Menstrual products are a world apart from what was available even only twenty years ago. But it can be difficult to determine which product is right for you—a decision that may be influenced by lifestyle, physical activity, comfort, fit, cost, and many other factors.
That’s why we’re publishing a series of menstrual product reviews, written by the staff here at Clue (and a few of our loved ones) to show you how we used these products, and how they worked for us. Check out the reviews here.
Full disclosure—many of these products were sent to us free of charge, for the purpose of reviews. These are the unbiased opinions of the folks who used the products.
GladRags Reusable Menstrual Pads (USA)
“I slept comfortably through the night and woke up without leaks.”
My flow is: Light-Medium thanks to my IUD
I’m looking for: Environmentally sustainable menstrual products
Eco-friendly period products appeal to me and this is the first time I’m trying a reusable pad. I received GladRag’s colorful day pad “for moderate flow” in a red, pink and maroon box. Through a peephole in the corner of the box I could see the pink and white floral cloth pad inside.The care and use instructions are laid out simply on the box, in a pamphlet insert, and on the company website.
The day pads allow for customizable absorbency: use more inserts for a heavier flow. Although my flow doesn’t get very heavy due to an IUD, I opted to use one insert at night during my heaviest day. The cotton material is considerably more comfortable than traditional diaper-like disposable pads. I slept comfortably through the night and woke up without leaks.
After use, GladRag advises soaking the pad in cold water and then hand-or-machine washing it. The instructions say not to use fabric softener, but I did it anyway since my city has hard water and fabric softener cannot be avoided. I don’t have a dryer along with my washing machine and I don’t run laundry every day, so it wasn’t feasible to easily wash and dry the two inserts and the holder in one period.
—Michalene, Product Team
“They feel just like the pads my grandmother used to wear”
My flow is: Medium to light
I’m looking for: something practical, sustainable (and glamourous)
Gladrags is made out of soft white cotton, and looks very well done. The pad comes with two inserts, so you can adapt the pad to your particular flow. That being said, I didn't like wearing them. They feel just like the pads my grandmother used to wear and told me stories about. I didn’t find them to be very practical, because you need to soak and wash them right away. The fact that I was testing a white pad didn’t help my user experience either.
I would probably use them again if they were the only available option!
—Lucia, Director of Growth
My flow is: A massive, horrific, bloody nightmare
I’m looking for: An environmentally sustainable way of managing my period
“Complete coverage from front to back, and there were no odors because the material caught the blood well”
This was my first time using a reusable cloth pad. My mother used to use these back in the day, so I was surprised to read that they were making a comeback. But because I don’t like sleeping with anything inside me, I was keen to try one for the first time. Plus I’m interested in more environmentally and financially sustainable methods of managing my period.
GladRags’ website offers a comprehensive FAQ section that talks about why they use organic materials, breaks down the cost difference between reusables and disposables, along with the different absorbency levels of various products. This is especially useful if you’re using a cloth pad for the first time, and aren’t sure of what to buy! They also offer a whole variety of colors and patterns, from flowers to polkadots and plain cloth pads, which I think is important to make the items accessible for trans and non-binary people with cycles. As a cis-woman, I was happy to try a colorful overnight pad with flowers. The pad is very long and wide, and comes with two additional inserts to customize the absorbency. I used this pad on the first night of my period, which is always extremely heavy.
At first I wasn’t sure how to use them, but there was a fold out booklet in the GladRags box which had very clear instructions, and showed me how to use the inserts, how to attach the pad to the underwear, and after care. I used one of the additional inserts, and I’m glad I did because otherwise there would have been leaks. Due to its size, the pad provided complete coverage from front to back, and there were no odors because the material caught the blood well. I actually found wearing it more comfortable than the disposable ultra-thin pads I’ve been using for most of my life.
After use, I soaked the pad in a bowl with some spot treatment, and then washed it later with a laundry load, and it was as good as new. The one thing I would say is that, because the pads have to be washed between use, it’s best to have a complete set on hand to last for your entire period. Also, a reusable pad requires a bit of pre-planning, because if you have to switch in the middle of a work or school day, you’ll need a leak-proof container to store the soiled pad until you’re able to get home to wash it properly. I’ll definitely be using mine again!
—Jennifer, Content Manager
My flow is: Normal (two days heavy, three days light)
I'm looking for: Menstrual products that are environmentally-sustainable
“I found them more comfortable and will happily continue to use them.”
I’ve tried a few reusable pads before, but I really like the GladRags panty liner best. I used these as a back-up with my menstrual cup and tampons to catch leaks and was very happy with the results. The GladRags were thin and very soft against my skin. Even though they are only held in place with a small snap, they didn’t shift or become dislodged. These reusable panty liners are made of fabric without a leak-proof layer, so I wouldn’t use them to free bleed on unless it was my the last days of my period, which are normally very light. Although they were slightly more bulky than a regular disposable pad, I found them more comfortable and will happily continue to use them. I also like the fact that, since they are mostly cotton, they are reusable and biodegradable, which is good for the environment.
—Nicole, Science Editor
My flow is: very light and irregular because of my hormonal IUD
I’m looking for: a convenient, environmentally sustainable way to manage my period on the few days that I get one.
“A fun, sustainable alternative to traditional disposable pads”
The GladRags pads are a fun, sustainable alternative to traditional disposable pads. They are made of cotton and have wings that snap together, completely wrapping your underwear in the pad to prevent leaks.
I liked that the GladRags came in fun, gender-neutral colors (mine were green and white). I had worried that after a few uses the GladRag would be stained and look dirty, but I was pleasantly surprised at how clean they looked after they were washed. Unless you can plan to do laundry in the middle of your period though, you’ll need two or three GladRags per day.
While I generally found the pads comfortable, sometimes I really missed the adhesive strip that I'm accustomed to with disposable pads. When I cycled to work, I found the pad bunched between me and the seat of my bicycle. I have a pretty light period so I didn’t worry about leaks on the front and back of my underwear, but I wouldn't wear a GladRag on a heavy day unless I was wearing underwear I wouldn’t mind staining. So while the lack of adhesive is not a dealbreaker for me, I would use a different solution for heavy days or when I’m doing sports.
If reusable menstrual pads aren’t really your thing, then check out what Clue had to say about the Rael Period Panties instead. You can read all about them and the rest of Clue’s period product reviews here.
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