If you're new to cloth pads, here is the best advice you can follow:
Experiment with different brands first. Do not buy all of your pads from one company or individual seller until you have tried different fabrics, lengths, absorbances and wing shapes. Cloth pads have a large upfront investment, so take the time to find what works best for your body.
Cloth pads are made up of 3 layers: topper, core/absorbent layer and bottom. Each layer has a specific function, and the fabric they are made from determines how well a particular brand works for you.
This is the layer of fabric that will sit against your skin.
Party In My Pants (PIMPs) pads:
These pads are topped with cotton, which is a fabric we've all come into contact with before (especially if we want to avoid yeast infections!). As a topper fabric, cotton is very breathable, but it may have a tendency to stain. That's why most cotton-topped pads are made with colorful fabrics, to camouflage any stubborn stains.
Lunapads are topped with cotton fleece which is mostly available in solid colors. So unlike the PIMPs pads where the printed side sits against your skin, with Lunapads the plain side faces up, while the printed side (bicycle pattern above) sits against the seat of your underwear.
Cotton fleece feels luxuriously soft against your skin; its very absorbent and less likely to stain. However, the fabric is much thicker than woven cotton, so if you live in a warmer climate things could get uncomfortably warm.
Look at the difference below:
Cotton Fleece Top
The Lunapad topper reminds me of a fleece jacket, while the PIMPs topper is comparable to a bed sheet.
The fabric at the top of a pad is your first line of defense against leaks, it draws fluid away from your body then allows it to soak into the absorbent core of the pad. Natural fabrics like cotton absorb menstrual fluid, while synthetic fabrics like minky wick it away. Synthetic fabrics draw fluid into the pad faster than fabrics. If your flow has a tendency to gush you may want to consider trying pads with both natural and synthetic top fabrics.
Cloth pads come in different widths. Both the Lunapads and PIMPs pads have two snaps. At the narrowest snap the Lunapad is 2.5" wide, while the PIMPs pad is 2" wide. Choosing the width of your cloth pads is easy. Simply measure the width of the seats of your underwear, then choose a pad width that matches.
Tiny panties = narrow pads; 2" - 2.5"
Boy-cut briefs & other generous cuts = wider pads; 3" - 3.5"
Your underwear should be able to hold the pad firmly against your body.
Cloth Pad Core
This is where PIMPs pads stand apart from the competition, they are incredibly thin! Just look at that difference in thickness.
PIMPs pads have a cloth inner core, while all Lunapads have cotton fleece cores. The samples I received from both companies were liners which have what's called an all-in-one (AIO) design. All PIMPs pads feature an AIO design.
Only Lunapads liners are AIO's, their pads have a 2-part holder and insert design.
With Lunapads, instead of changing the entire pad you can use 1 base throughout the day and switch out the inserts after they become saturated. Inserts are secured to the base by black ric-rac bands. They are a good option for ladies whose flows fluctuate from heavy-light-heavy. You can stack up to 4 inserts at a time to help prevent leaks on heavy days.
Personally, I live in a hot climate so I'm not a big fan of the cotton fleece core/topper. And at $6 - $7 for two inserts I'd rather spend the money on an AIO pad made from a material that I'm comfortable with.
Cloth Pad Base
The fabric at the base of the pad can either be water-proof or water-resistant. PIMPs can achieve such a thin pad because of their water-resistant nylon shield. When I first received the liner I put it to the test by soaking the cotton top with water, and let me tell you, that nylon shield works! The back of the liner remained bone dry, even though it was fully saturated.
Lunapads' liners have zero leak protection. The base is a layer of cotton flannel, which is also used by other cloth pad makers as a top fabric. Their liners are best suited for very light days or as backup protection for your menstrual cup.
For heavy-duty protection you'll need their 2-part pads. Lunapads' base contains a layer of PUL, which is PolyUrethane Laminated onto polyester. This makes their pads waterproof. This can be a good and bad thing. Although you'll be protected against leaks, PUL is not nearly as breathable as other base fabrics.
Party In My Pants Pads
- The fabric is cute
- liner is incredibly thin
- can hold a lot of fluid for a liner
- cotton fleece feels lovely and soft
- cotton flannel base was also soft (your almost tempted to wear this side up, although they instruct against doing so)
Party In My Pants Pads
- the cotton top fabric could be softer
- nylon backing has a tendency to slide
- wings feel a bit bulky
- only offer cotton fleece as a topper fabric
- all their pads include PUL
If Lunapads and Party In My Pants Pads were the only options available, I'd personally go with Party In My Pants. The AIO design and thinness of their pads make them far superior in my opinion.
Fortunately, these two companies are not our only options when it comes to cloth pads, and thank the Lord because their pads are expensive! You can find pads for half the price on Etsy that are just as good... if not better than the commercially available pads. Plus there's the added benefit of supporting Work At Home Mom (WAHM) businesses.
In the next post I'll review my favorite Etsy pad sellers and show how they one-up the commercial competition.