An unspoken but critical need for any prepper family with women is feminine hygiene. Sorry to bring up an awkward and indelicate subject, but every woman reading this is nodding her head in agreement.
Phasing Out Disposable Products
A number of years ago, our family started phasing out disposable products. We did this for a number of reasons, including environmental and financial; but the biggest reason was our interest in reducing waste. If the bleep ever hits the fan, waste disposal will be a huge issue. Better to tackle that aspect now rather than later.
Washable Feminine Hygiene, A High Priority
During this process, obtaining washable feminine hygiene was high on our priority list for myself and our two daughters. Therefore I purchased three full sets of washable hygiene products for our monthly use. That was almost 10 years ago and I’ve never looked back.
Reasons For Being Dissatisfied With Store-Bought
Before switching to washables, I’d long been dissatisfied with store-bought sanitary napkins for a number of reasons. One, I don’t like what they’re made of. Two, I don’t like the price. Three, I don’t like that they’re non-biodegradable. Four, I don’t like the idea of being, say, trapped in a blizzard and unable to make a dash for the store for emergency supplies. Five, I don’t like things that aren’t reusable.
There are many washable hygiene options on the market. We purchased ours from Naturally Cozy. The nice thing about this company is the variety of products they carry for women’s needs: daily panty liners, cotton nursing pads, incontinence products, post-partum pads, washable toilet wipes, hand towels, and even flannel “clutches” to carry personal items discretely. Naturally Cozy has item samples you can order to “test drive” a product, if you want to try them out before ordering a full set.
What’s It Like?
So what’s it like, using washable hygiene? In a word, comfortable. The pads are made of soft flannel and organic cotton, so there is no chafing and it’s easier on the “lady parts”.
Personal Flannel Pattern
Women can choose their personal flannel pattern, which makes it easy to distinguish between pads for different family members. The fabrics breathe, which decreases trapped moisture and the problems that accompany it. Contrary to popular belief, washable hygiene isn’t “icky” any more than washable cloth diapers are icky.
Of course, the initial cost of purchasing pads and panty liners are higher than disposables. But it’s also worth adding up how many disposables you purchase on a monthly or yearly basis, and compare that to the cost of washables. So far we’ve gotten almost 10 years’ worth of use out of our pads, and they’re still going strong.
Disposable Versions Made With Nasty Chemicals
Washable hygiene is one of those products that, once used, you start to wonder what you ever saw in the disposable versions (which, not incidentally, are made with all kinds of nasty chemicals). Most women aren’t aware of what goes into the manufacture of disposable sanitary napkins. Laboratory analyses of a popular brand of disposable hygiene products found toxic chemicals classified as carcinogenic as well as reproductive and developmental toxins, including styrene (a human carcinogen), chloromethane (a reproductive toxicant), chloroethane (a carcinogen), chloroform (a carcinogen, reproductive toxicant and neurotoxin), and acetone (an irritant).
I also have about a month’s worth of the daily-use panty liners and have come to loathe the store-bought versions after nearly 10 years of cloth softness. I finally hit menopause (yay!) so I no longer have to worry about monthly pads, but I use the panty liners every single day and adore them beyond reason.
Washing is simple. We put soiled pads in a soak bucket (often with a splash of hydrogen peroxide), then when we finish our cycles, we run them (by themselves) through the washing machine, twice. (I keep a dedicated pair of tongs hooked over the side of the bucket to fish out the soiled pads and drop them in the washing machine.) Once in a great while if an odor problem builds up, I soak the pads in vinegar for a few hours, then wash. I keep soiled panty liners in a separate soak bucket, then wash with whites (dish towels, socks, underwear, et cetera) in hot water. We don’t use a dryer, so we lay our clean pads out to air-dry. All hygiene items should be air-dried, never dried in a dryer.
How Did Disposable Products Become the Only Option?
Women have had to take care of their personal hygiene needs for thousands of years before convenient disposable napkins became the norm. How did women become convinced disposable products were the only option? In the wake of World War II, manufacturing ramped up hand-in-glove with advertising and disposable income. Thanks to the unflagging efforts by commercial manufacturers, whole generations of women became convince that disposable products were sanitary, efficient, and healthy, and by contrast washable options were … well, icky. Nothing could be further from the truth.
For those concerned about environmental impact, consider this: “It’s estimated that nearly 20 billion (billion!) pads and tampons are discarded each year in North America alone. The plastics in a pad will take hundreds of years to decompose. The process of manufacturing these disposables also pollutes our waterways, air and animal habitats. Switching to reusables can make a difference.”
Disposables May Have Their Place If Water In Short Supply
There are times when disposables in the home make sense. Reusable options mean something must be washed before using it again, and if water is in short supply (natural disasters, power outages, even traveling), then disposables have their place.
Learning To Wean Yourself Off Disposables is Smart
But in everyday non-emergency circumstances, learning to wean yourself off disposables is smart, especially for the prepper. Not only does it mean you’ve adapted to the reusable versions, but you’ll always have an abundant supply on hand.
I’ve known people who have purchased washable pads, only to tuck them away among their prepper supplies “just in case.” That’s fine and dandy, but why not use them now? You’ll save money by switching to reusable napkins, and then you’ll become a fan of the washable versions, too.
I cannot recommend these products highly enough. Ladies, do yourself a favor this year and give yourself the gift of washable sanitary napkins. You won’t regret it.