Get to know Aunt Flow! (a cloth pad chat)

Posted on March 20 2016

Have you joined us for a Facebook chat yet? Each month we welcome an expert guest to a one hour chat on the MOBY® Facebook page, inviting community questions and comments for an in-depth discussion with our featured expert. This month we welcomed Tracy Puhl, CEO for Portland-based GladRags. See below for some of the top Q & A from our chat, or head here for the full thread

If you're interested in getting started with cloth pads or a menstrual cup, use coupon code REUSE2016 to save $10 on all value kits from

M - Moby Wrap

T - Tracy

C - Community

M: First off, how did you come to be a period expert?

T: I've always been interested in women's health and eco-feminism, so working at GladRags was a natural fit for me! I started at GladRags in 2009, then took over the company from founder Brenda Mallory in 2011. It's great because I get to spend my days working with rad, passionate people and helping women love their bodies!

C: What makes your product and company stand out from others? Also could you please explain how your cloth pad inserts work? Are they worn underneath the pad, against underwear?

T: We've been in business since 1993, so we have a LOT of history in the reusable biz. That means our products are tried and true, by multiple generations! We also love that our pads are extremely breathable and plastic/nylon free. And, we're proud to be a certified Benefit Corporation, which means we don't just make good products, we also do business in a way that benefits people and the planet. As far as the construction of our pads, the inserts are tucked inside the pad, on the underside. That leaves the smooth side of the pad against your body. We use inserts so that the absorbency can be customized to meet your needs on any day, and to ensure simple, thorough washing. You can see how the inserts work in this video:

C: Would the pads be a good way to start a girl off with her first period, or is it better suited for someone who has experienced their period for a while?

T: I think it's totally appropriate! I also think it's important to ask the girl what SHE thinks. After all, it's her body! We do have a great book that non-judgmentally explains disposable and reusable options that can help her decide:

C: I love that GladRags are reusable and made right here in Portland. What are they made out of? And how long can you wear them before you change them? I felt horrible about using tampons, but now I use a menstrual cup. it's amazing, but I'd love to transition over to glad rags (&support a local business!) thanks

T: Yay Portland!! GladRags are 100% cotton. The outsides are made of soft cotton flannel, and the inside is absorbent terrycloth. You can wear them for about as long as you can wear a comparable disposable -- for example, if you typically use a standard maxi pad for about 4 hours, you should be able to use a GladRags Day Pad for about the same amount of time.

C: Should cloth pads be changed more often like cloth diapers have to be changed more than disposables? I tried cloth and had a hard time with it. Also want to know how many to start with.

T: I'm not really familiar with cloth diaper recommendations, but our cloth pads are comparable to disposables in terms of wear time! You can start with ANY amount! Even using just one or two GladRags instead of disposables is gentler for your body and the planet. If you're looking to get a full set, consider how long your cycle lasts, how frequently you need to change your pad, and how often you'd like to do laundry. For example, if you typically wear a standard maxi pad for about 4 hours, you can likely use a GladRags Day Pad for about four hours, too. We provide some good starter sets on that are geared toward specific needs:

C: What if someone is traveling... What's to keep these from developing an odor? Do you have to rinse before storing after you change the pad? This is the first I have seen reusable pads for women. And the sanitation of it comes to mind.

T: They're great for traveling, and odor isn't really an issue due to the breathability of cotton. You don't need to rinse immediately, just wash thoroughly before using again!

C: Is it just made of cloth meaning the cloth absorbs everything it is there something else in there? Are there different length sizes?

T: Yes! GladRags are made of cotton flannel and cotton terrycloth to be breathable and absorbent. There are all different lengths, shapes, and sizes -- just like disposable pads! You can see them all side by side here:

C: Is there any kind of lining on the underside to avoid them from leaking ?

T: We intentionally do not use a leakproof lining -- GladRags are absorbent enough on their own, and a waterproof lining traps in moisture which can lead to odor and bacterial growth. Ew! We prefer breathable! If you're ready to give GladRags a try, make sure you take advantage of our super-discounted Pantyliner Plus for newbies!

C: I had a friend who is a nurse tell me that using cloth pads can cause yeast infections and other issues. Is that true?

T: I have to preface this by saying I'm not a doctor! Many doctors do recommend our products, however. There is no reason why breathable cotton cloth pads would cause a yeast infection -- in fact, many doctors recommend switching to 100% cotton pads if you have recurrent yeast infections. However, if you have a yeast infection and use a cloth pad (or underwear!) you could reinfect yourself. This is why we encourage anyone with a yeast infection to discuss with their doctor the best way to prevent reinfection. Doctors often recommend boiling or washing underwear/cloth pads in very hot water to ensure no recurrent infections.

C: Do the cloth pads need to be laundered separately?

T: Nope! You can wash them with other items. Personally, I liked to soak mine for about 10 minutes in the sink or bathtub while I get the rest of my laundry ready. That way when I put everything in the washer, they're pretty clean already -- but I have a pretty crummy old washer. If I had a nicer one, I'd throw everything in together!

C: What about working out, is it possible with cloth pads or should I stick with cups?

T: I do it every month. For long runs I prefer a menstrual cup (I did a half marathon with one!) but for shorter workouts or less intense stuff, I use pads. I even climbed a mountain once wearing GladRags!

C: I have been interested in cloth for awhile just haven't been able to afford it. How many would I need for a light to moderate flow usually about five days long?

T: I hear you! It's definitely an upfront investment, but it's so worth it. We have a deal for newbies where you can get a GladRags Pantyliner Plus for about 40% off: As far as how many you need, how frequently you need to change your pad, and how often you'd like to do laundry. For example, if you typically wear a standard maxi pad for about 4 hours, you can likely use a GladRags Day Pad for about four hours, too. Hope that helps! We also provide some good starter sets on that are geared toward specific needs:

Want to see more? There's more to see! Head over to the original thread on Facebook for the full discussion. Thank you again to Tracy for joining us! 

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