Periods are a healthy and normal part of life for countless people around the world, but something needs to go: the plastic waste that often comes with it.
Those who do have their period typically use more than 11,000 disposable menstrual products in their lifetime. Every year, over 3 billion single-use products are used by the UK’s menstruating population alone. The resulting disposal corresponds to around 200,000 tons of waste per year.
One of the biggest sinners is disposable menstrual pads, which can contain up to 90 percent plastic thanks to the leak-proof base, moisture-absorbing plastics and packaging.
However, there are reusable alternatives that pad tags can use and the good news is that they remain reliable for many years to come. The even better news is that they are also designed for comfort.
As well as the obvious environmental benefits, they could also help you save hundreds of pounds as the one-off cost of reusable products reduces the estimated £18,000 people spend on periods over a lifetime. It’s time to ditch these single-use products and embrace more sustainable, reusable alternatives. Here’s our guide to help you make the transition.
As we tested
We’ve rounded up the best reusable sanitary pads and tested each one over a cycle. Comfort is king, so we rated each one based on how comfortable they are and how confident we feel wearing them. We also paid special attention to the absorbency, the design, the materials each is made of and additional accessories that were available to make each period that little bit easier.
The Best Reusable Sanitary Pads for 2022 are:
Overall the best reusable sanitary napkin – Reusable Dame Pad Set with Dry Bag: £34.99, Wearedame.co
Best reusable sanitary napkin for easy blood flow – Bloom & Nora Bloomers individual reusable pads: £5.25, Greenbaysupermarket.co.uk
Best Medium Flow Reusable Sanitary Pad – Nora Moderate Reusable Pad Three Pack: £23.95, Livebynora.com
Best reusable sanitary napkin for heavy blood flow – Regn Reusable Sanitary Pads Six Pack Heavy Flow: £17.99, Regn.co.uk
Best Slim Reusable Sanitary Pad – Regular Menstrual Pad Fern x Babipur, Planty Babipurian: £6.50, Babipur.co.uk
Best reusable sanitary napkin for design – Kiki & Green mixed set: £24.99, Kikiandgreen.com
The best DIY reusable sanitary napkin kit – Eco Femme Make Your Own Kit: £18, Earthwisegirls.co.uk
Best Reusable Sanitary Pad for Teens – Mama Designs Teen Light 3 pack: £13, Thefutureimage.co.uk
Best reusable sanitary napkin for workout – Imse Small Black Exercise Pads 3 pack: £22.95, Babipur.co.uk
Best reusable sanitary napkin to do good – Earthwise Pads Medium, buy three give one: £13.50, Earthwisegirls.co.uk
Lady reusable pad set with dry bag
Dame is to the world of reusable period products what Tampax is to disposable tampons: almost synonymous and incredibly popular. And our testing showed us why they are chosen by so many women looking for reusable hygiene products. The pads were surprisingly thin, discreet, and stayed in place once attached with the snaps, and the absorbency wowed us for a fresh all-day feeling. This set includes three sizes – Liner, Regular and Night – so every base is covered. We particularly liked that this kit came with the stuff sack included, meaning it’s ideal for when you’re out of the house from day to night. However, keep in mind that one kit won’t last you your entire period, so you’ll need to buy a few extra pads separately. But we’re sure you’ll be glad you switched from your usual disposable products to these checker alternatives.
Buy Now £34.99, Wearedame.co
Bloom & Nora Bloomers individual reusable pads
This dainty little pad with a pretty floral print and blue lining is ideal for light days. It may be small, but it holds up to 65ml and has a waterproof layer to protect against leaks. Thanks to the bamboo fleece lining, it feels comfortable and is easy to fasten with snaps. It also washes well and is rated for ten years of use, making it great value for money and a truly sustainable option.
Buy now £5.25, Greenbaysupermarket.co.uk
Nora Moderate Reusable Pads 3-Pack
With a length of 25 cm, Nora’s moderate pads offer reliable protection on days with medium circulation. They can hold twice as much blood as a disposable tampon, but are surprisingly thin and light, which gives us a lot of confidence. The design is sleek and features snaps that attach the pad to your underwear. We also liked the stay-dry honeycomb lining. These pads are also designed to last 10 years or 150 washes, for ample plastic-free periods. For added feel-good vibes, Nora donates one percent of its sales to charity each year.
Buy Now £23.95, Livebynora.com
Regn Reusable Sanitary Pads Six Pack Heavy Flow
Heavy menstrual days call for a highly reliable sanitary napkin that won’t let you down and we’ve found that we can count on Regn to deliver. The highly absorbent pads are 30cm long and absorb as much blood as four regular tampons, meaning they’re great for overnight use too. They’re admittedly thicker than some of the other pads in this roundup, but they were still comfortable and gave us that extra confidence that we were going to stay leak-free. This pack is also great value for money and in addition to the six well-made pads, it comes with a storage pouch and a laundry pouch to keep them together when washing with other clothes in the machine. We think this set is extremely affordable and will save you a lot of money over time.
Buy Now £17.99, Regn.co.uk
Fern x Babipur Regular Menstrual Pad, Planty Babipurian
A collaboration between Babipur and Fern period products brings us this pad, which we found had the softest lining of any we tested. It is incredibly comfortable to wear and perfectly slim. We were a little concerned about stains when we first saw the lining was white, but rinsing in cold water before washing meant no marks were left. We also loved the cute houseplant print design on the outer fabric. This pad measures 25cm for confidence when seated or lying down, yet is discreet and thanks to its slimness it hardly feels at all. Investing in this pad can also help others as one percent of sales goes to charities that support people affected by period poverty.
Buy now £6.50, Babipur.co.uk
Kiki & Green mixed set
If the look of your sanitary napkins is as important as their performance, Kiki & Green is the brand for you. The designs, including Dare to Zebra and Midnight Rainforest, are beautiful and bring style to a time when we so often opt for the boring undergarments reserved only for that time of the month. This set also makes a fantastic starter kit for those experimenting with reusable pads for the first time. It comes with three regular flow and three heavy flow pads, dry bands and a holdall, which is handy for traveling as it has two compartments: one for used pads and another for clean ones. The inclusion of two types of pads meant we were covered for different Flow days, and we felt safe and comfortable using them. We also love that Kiki & Green works with the Eden Reforestation Projects and that a tree is planted with every product sold.
Buy now £24.99, Kikiandgreen.com
Eco Femme build your own kit
Now for something we’ve never seen before, which is also awesome if you’re feeling creative: a reusable DIY pad kit. The fully recyclable packaging includes everything you need to make three pads, including pre-cut materials, snaps and even a needle and thread. We followed the instruction video linked on the shop website (clear written instructions are also included) and simply hand sewed the pieces together to create some really good pads that felt comfortable and reliable – we were a little impressed with ourselves , to say the least. The job would be easier for sewing machine owners, but wasn’t particularly tedious to do by hand. There’s something really beautiful about wearing pads that you know you made yourself.
Buy Now £18.00, Earthwisegirls.co.uk
Mama Designs Teen Light Three Pack
Designed specifically for teens, these pads are super thin, soft and feature a fun leopard print. The 100% cotton lining makes them comfortable to wear and actually feels much more comfortable than disposable pads, while the snaps keep them in place throughout use. Our teen testers felt dry when they tried it and confident they were protected from leaks – essential for those still getting used to their periods.
Buy Now £13.00, Thefutureimage.co.uk
Imse Small Black Training Pads 3 Pack
Those who train during their period know the importance of a 100 percent reliable sanitary napkin. Stretching, combined with different movements and tempos, can make leaks feel like a frighteningly real possibility. But when we tested these pads, we knew we had found the solution to those worries. They’re really light, slim and flexible, you almost forget you’re wearing them when you’re active. Each pad can hold 15ml so we recommend changing them regularly, but we’ve been kept dry and leak-free throughout a long workout.
Buy now £22.95, Babipur.co.uk
Earthwise Pads Medium, buy three, give one
Not everyone can afford to buy period products, but these pads are here to help at least some. For every pack sold, Earthwise Girls donates a reusable pack to an orphan girl in Kenya through the Nasio Trust. And we want others to be able to use these types of pads because they are comfortable and do a great job of keeping you dry and protected from leaks. They washed well and we also love the variety of patterns available.
Buy Now £13.50, Earthwisegirls.co.uk
The verdict: reusable pads
The Dame Reusable Pad Set with Dry Bag might be the most expensive in our roundup, but we thought it was the best after testing each product. The pads and bag are exceptionally well made, strong and have excellent absorption properties for a comfortable and confident time. A more affordable but quality set is the Kiki & Green mixed set to help you feel a little chic during your period, and our younger tester loved the Mama Designs Teen Light three pack for the design, fit and comfort.
The cosmetics you use every day shouldn’t harm the planet – here they are The best plastic-free beauty products