Also known as cloth feminine pads.
Now before you start in on 'eewwww', think about it this way. It's a GREAT money saver. Even buying enough fabric at the store to get your supply going or buying them already made, we're talking $30-$40 for the rest of your life-or, at the very least, years depending on if the cloth wears down or not. Is there a certain ew factor, yes, I would have to agree with that, but it's not really that bad.
There are many different styles, from the "stuffed" ones like in the picture, to All In Ones (AIOs), where everything is all together and you just have to put it on.
(Now for the personal part..) Since I started using cloth-still only part time since I just now found a pattern I love and it works great-which will be a different post-the length in periods has gotten shorter, the cramps are going away... All in all-it's a better week for everybody in the house. Sure I still get the PMS symptoms and mood swings, but even I can tell it's not NEAR as bad.
Switching to cloth can be pretty simple. If you sew, you can make your own very simply, or you can buy them already made. There are a ton of ladies on Etsy, Luna Pads, Kawaii Babies has some (I know I'm missing a ton of the big ones). Pretty much any place you can buy cloth diapers, you can buy mama cloth.
Making your own is simple, too once you find a pattern you like. I first started off using Hillbilly Housewife's pattern. Simple, but not quite what I wanted. After much searching on Pinterest and Youtube, I found a tutorial to show me what I was doing wrong and am now working on building my cloth pad stash. Amy Nix does awesome tutorials from how to make your own pattern, to what you could be doing wrong that your pads aren't turning out how you want them to. There are even some groups on Facebook to get you going (Isn't there a Facebook group for everything?). If you choose to make your own, you have to decide what you want to make them out of. You need an absorbent layer, I've seen everything from bamboo to flannel. Personally, I like flannel..mostly because I have it in the house just sitting in my huge scrap pile. So that's the core... Then you have the front layer (layer against your skin), you obviously want this to be soft, so something cotton or flannel (again lol) would work just great.. Now comes the back layer. For the 'just in case' scenario, you'll want something that will keep your clothes clean. You can do PUL (a waterproof fabric), or you can do fleece. While fleece doesn't have the waterproof way that PUL does, it seems to work just fine for me.
Most people use snaps to hook them together, those fancy plastic snaps you know-they are a lot easier that the metal ones.. I just have to save up for the tool and the snaps. Right now I'm using a diaper pin...that has to be situated just right or it's very uncomfortable.. You can use velcro, or I've even seen buttons. It's really up to you. If you don't want wings, you don't have to have wings. If you need them longer, wider... There are entirely customizable-as is anything homemade.
Sew all your layers together, insert the snap if you have them and you're ready to go.
To wash, some people wash in the sink after putting them straight in a pail of cold water to minimize staining. I just throw them in with the cloth diapers and wash at the same time.
Cloth pads do have more than just the monetary value, there are no chemicals against your skin and they are less abrasive-not to mention you don't have to worry about toxic shock syndrome. If you have issues where you have to wear a panty liner all the time, it really is a money saver.
Leave any questions you have and I'll see if I can find the answer! I'll follow up with a blog with pictures on how to make your pattern (straight from an Amy Nix video) that was as easy as pie and what part of my final stash looks like.