(The pad pictured above is a pad I bought in ahealth food store. I believe it was made by New Cycle Products, but I'mnot positive.)
Before disposable pads and tampons were invented, women used special clothsto absorb their flow. Lately a whole new generation of cloth pads whichare meant to be reused have become available. They are not nearly as popularas disposables today, but women who are concerned about the environmentare rediscovering this old-fashioned method.
These cloth pads are usually made of soft cotton flannel or terry cloth.Some are sewn into ovals and are puffy in the middle, like disposable pads.Others are flat like washcloths, and are meant to be worn folded. Whenone side is wet, the cloth can be refolded so that a dry side is facingyou. They come in different sizes for different needs. They are not usuallyheld in place with belts or pins because the flannel does not slide aroundmuch when worn with close fitting cotton underwear. But I should add thatthey seem to work best when you are bleeding. I find that dry pads (likea pad you are wearing at the end of your period) slide around more forsome reason. For this reason, perhaps, some of companies that sell thecloth pads also sell underwear with snaps or elastic bands to hold thepads in place.
They are meant to be washed and reused, and if they are cared for properly,one set will last for years, depending on how grungy you want them to get..
As with disposable pads, they are easy to use, allow you to see what'sgoing on with your period, and may be healthier for your system.
They are softer than disposable pads, almost cozy, and best of all,you never get an adhesive strip stuck to your body. They also smell betterthan pads when used.
Cloth pads absorb the fluid very well, and can hold quite a bit. I thinkthey actually allow less of the dreaded "edge staining" thandisposable pads, and they won't soak through to your panties unless theyare completely saturated.
They are good for the environment: they produce no waste for years exceptfor wash water, and when they are finally thrown away they can decompose.
Once you pay for the first set of them, you don't have to buy them againfor a long time. This means that ultimately you save money, and stop worryingabout how many pads or tampons you have left, or being caught unprepared.They are always there for you.
They are not as convenient as disposables. If you change your clothpad when you are away from home, you have to bring the old one back ina bag or something.
They are not as thin as the ultra-thin disposable maxi - but they areno thicker than full sized pads.
Some women complain that they do not absorb blood fast enough, and soare not good for heavy, FAST bleeding.
You have to wash them. For best results, you should soak them or rinsethem before you put them in the wash. It's not a big deal, but it is morework than throwing something in the garbage. It can be a drag if you don'thave easy access to a washer and drier. Also, because the evidence leavesthe bathroom and goes to the laundry room, you have to be open about thefact you are menstruating.