Saturday 27 June 2009

Packaging Changes

A while back, I did a packaging poll in the Cloth Pads community as well as a mini poll here. I'd been thinking for a while about revamping my packaging, and wanted to get people's views before I did anything.

I've always wrapped pads in tissue paper and put in a brown paper envelope with a mini business card (tied with ribbon to turn it into a handy bookmark... or at least that's the idea), care instructions if it's a first order, and a packing slip. Occasionally I'll include a Femmecup leaflet, since I am contractually obliged to promote them. While the result looks pretty, it bothers me that a) the pads aren't protected from moisture, and b) the tissue paper is likely to get discarded. The last thing I want to do is burden people with things to throw away.

So, what do people want from their pad packaging? Are extra touches nice or a nuisance? Everybody had differing views. Here are some of the interesting things I learned:

  • Most people preferred minimal packaging, and wanted their pads straight in the envelope.
  • A resealable bag was rated slightly higher than tissue paper.
  • Most people would save tissue paper to reuse later, a slightly lower number of people would throw it away, and a few would recycle it.
  • Almost everybody who participated would reuse a resealable bag.
  • A sticker on a resealable bag would not be a hindrance to most people. A couple of people mentioned that a sticker with a reference to cloth pads would stop them from re-using it.
  • Most people would not like to receive care instructions on paper if they were available online. One person came up with the idea of putting the care instructions on the packing slip so that no extra paper would be used, which received a very positive response.

If you'd like to see the actual results from the survey (in graph form), please click here.

After a lot of thought, I have decided to replace the tissue paper with a resealable bag. While I like the idea of putting the pads straight in the envelope, this leaves them vulnerable to loss or damage if the envelope tears. Since the resealable bag was the second most popular option, it seems like a reasonable compromise. It's more protective than tissue paper, and is more likely to be re-used.

I'll still include my little card (unless instructed otherwise), but the care instructions will no longer be a separate sheet. I will be printing these on the bottom of the packing slip. They'll be easy to cut off and separate from the other details, which could be useful if the items are a gift.

I will still keep tissue paper on hand, and would like to find a CubeCart mod that would enable me to offer free gift wrapping.

Until then, please do make use of CubeCart's comments facility if you have special packaging requests. During the checkout process there is an opportunity to write a comment, which I receive with the order. If you'd like me to include or omit any packaging, I'll be happy to oblige!

Monday 22 June 2009

I shall go to the ball!

Not pad related, but I wanted to record my latest sewing project for posterity. My first ever dress!

Please click to enlarge, if you are inclined.

I had been searching and searching for a decent summer dress, and had tried on just about every dress on the high street. NOTHING fit. My top and bottom halves are two different sizes, so anything that fits my top half won't go over my hips, and anything that fits my hips gapes at the bust. After a day of trekking around town trying on dresses, I suddenly thought: this is stupid. I know how to sew. I will stop this madness and make my own!

The pattern is New Look 6773, and the fabric is flat cotton. I custom made it to my measurements, so it actually fits my bust AND hips! Amazing! The lining is red, the same as the front band and straps. It was supposed to have boning, but I really couldn't be bothered with that, so I left it out. The halterneck holds it up just fine.

It started out about 8 inches longer, but I shortened it quite radically. Only after I'd cut off the excess and spent three hours handsewing a blind hem did I realise that I actually preferred it longer. Oh well. I will just have to make another!

Thursday 18 June 2009

June Lottery Winner

Belated congratulations to silvermuse, the winner of the June lottery liner. I hope you enjoy it!

Monday 8 June 2009

My Verdict on the Co-operative Own Brand Stain Remover Powder

Pad cleaning time again! This cycle I replaced my usual Vanish Oxi Action with the Co-operative's own brand to see how the two compare.

I'd say the Co-op's version is about 90% as effective as the Vanish. When the pads came out of the washing machine I was left with one barely visible stain, which disappeared after the pad dried.

The Co-op's version doesn't smell as strong as the Vanish, which is nice for people with chemical sensitivies. (I actually rather like the sherberty smell of the Vanish, though, so I missed it a bit.) It gets odour out nicely, and left my pads smelling clean and fresh.

Although the Vanish seems to have a little extra "oomph", the Co-op's version is plenty good enough for my purposes. It works well, it's about half the price, and better still it's BUAV approved.

I'll definitely be using this from now on, in conjunction with Ecover stain remover for spot-treatment.

Thursday 4 June 2009

June Lottery

I recently did a custom order for a really awesome lady, who generously donated some of her own fabric for my June lottery liner. The lottery is over at my Cloth Pad Shop store, and the lucky winner will receive this beautiful liner FREE, inclusive of shipping. International entries welcome!

Wednesday 3 June 2009

Pad Care, Soaking, and Odour

I've had a few queries about pad care, particularly since the weather's warmed up. Warmer weather and soak pots don't mix very well, often resulting in musty smelling pads... and let's be frank, nobody wants to wear a pad that smells like an armpit.

Fortunately, you don't have to. Over the last few months I've perfected a new pad care routine which involves minimal soaking and leaves my pads looking and smelling beautiful, so I thought I'd share it.

My Pad Care Method

When I take off a pad, I fold it in on itself, and snap. Like this:

I then put it unrinsed into a waterproof zippered bag. Yes, unrinsed. I was sceptical at first; I was afraid unrinsed pads would stink, but they don't. Obviously, if you put your face into the bag and inhale deeply you'll be able to smell your pads, but you wouldn't do that anyway, would you? I keep my waterproof bag in our (small) bathroom, and neither my partner or I can smell my pads at all. (Believe me, if my pads stank, my partner would have something to say about it.)

My waterproof bag is nothing fancy; it's a large toiletries bag that I picked up for about 50p at a charity shop.

When I'm ready to clean my pads, I do it in three easy steps.

Step 1: Open the pads up, drop them into the soaking container, and fill with cold water. I do this in the morning about an hour before my shower - you'll find out why in a minute. After an hour, I tip out the water.

Step 2: Time to rinse. You could fill your soak pot again, swish around a bit and tip the water out... or, you could do what I do: dump your pads into the shower enclosure or bathtub, and take a shower with them. The combination of the shower water and me trampling about on them gets them pretty good and clean.

At this point, you could wash and dry as normal, spot-treating any stains if you are so inclined. Ecover stain remover is great, I highly recommend it. I am very finicky about stains, though, so I like to add one more step to ensure my pads are pristine.

Step 3: Dump the pads back in the soaking container, and this time add warm water and a scoop of Vanish Oxi Action, or similar oxygen based laundry cleaner. Oxy Clean is widely used in the USA, and seems to be approximately the same thing. Make sure whichever version you get is colour safe! The Vanish comes in a bright pink container and looks like this:

The Co-Op has their own brand which I will try in a couple of days and let you know how it compares.

Swoosh around a bit to dissolve the crystals, and leave for another hour or so. When you come back to it, you will be amazed at how beautiful your pads look (and smell!) Now you can wash and dry as normal. I wash at 30 degrees with no problems. I like to air dry outside (when the weather permits), but that's a matter of personal preference.

I have been doing this for about a year now, and my pads always come out looking and smelling perfect. Rinsing every pad and then soaking for the duration of my cycle has never worked for me - I always had odour problems, and it was a whole lot of effort. It works great for some women, and power to them, but it doesn't suit everybody. I've found my method to be an easy and effective alternative.

If the idea of storing unrinsed pads squicks you out and you'd rather stick to soaking, here are some tips for keeping your pads and soak water smelling fresh:

  • Add a couple of tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda to your soak water. Bicarb absorbs odour.
  • Add a couple of drops of tea tree oil or other essential oil to your soak water. Make sure you wash your pads thoroughly afterwards, as tea tree can be irritating to some women.
  • Change your soak water often, at least once a day.
  • Before washing, give your pads a final soak in Oxi Action or similar.
  • Add a quarter to half a cup of white vinegar to your wash (if you machine wash)
  • Dry pads outside if possible.

Do you have any tricks for keeping your soak water smelling fresh? Or a pad care method that works really well for you? If so, please leave a comment and tell me about it - I'd love to know!