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!


  1. Vicky!!! This method is *amazing*!!! Thank you sooooo much for sharing it with us!!! It worked perfecty for me! It's sooooo much easier and cleans way better than all the other methods I've tried (I've tried soaking and a couple others methods). Your method left me with NO stains, NO odor, used LESS water, took LESS time, & took LESS work!!! In fact, even some of my older stains came out using this method! :) Love, love, love it!!! Thank you soooo much! :)

    Oh, and were right...even with my "hot" showers, I did not have a problem with stains setting in! :) Vicky is also right that when "dry pailing" the pads...there is no offensive odor. Pads are tucked away neatly leaving no one to gross out on smell or sight. ha!

    All other methods I used made it a lot of work to get stains out, and had a little bit of odor. Not so with this one! I HIGHLY recommend this method to everyone!!! Thank you soooo much again Vicky!!!

  2. Thanks for the information !!

  3. I find that collecting all my pads til the end of my cycle super convenient as well.

    I add 2 denture tablets to a bucket of warm water with 2 denture tabs dissolved and allow to soak overnight in the tub.

    Dump, squeeze, ready for laundry!

    Here's others:

  4. Hi, I want to try your method but I take super hot showers. wouldn't that set stains in?

  5. @Anonymous: How hot is super hot? I take relatively hot showers, and haven't had any issues. The water has usually cooled down a fair amount by the time it hits the bottom of the shower enclosure.

    To be on the safe side, you could always omit the shower step and squeeze the pads out by hand instead.

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