The Economics of Cloth Pads

Overcoming the cost barrier of switching to cloth pads

Recently we asked the GladRags community what their #1 barrier was for getting started with reusables. We heard a variety of reasons like, “Just getting the courage to try them! I finally had a breakthrough when a cloth user said: Do you throw your undies out when you don’t catch it in time or overflow?” and “Getting over the idea of washing cloth. Then I had kiddo (and had been planning forever that I’d cloth diaper him) and realiszd it was silly to be squeamish about my body and not his.”

But by and large, the #1 reason folks hesitated about switching to reusables was THE COST OF GETTING STARTED.

Most are well aware that reusables save a boatload of money in the long run. But since we like math, we broke it down so you can see for yourself, and for the sake of simplicity, we’re going to use cloth pads instead of other reusable options. And because we’re focusing on cost here, we’re not going to compare other factors, like the environmental impact of each. Focus, folks. This is about money (this time).

Cost Breakdown

If you were to compare the cost of using cloth pads vs the cost of disposables for a day, a cycle and your whole entire lifetime, here’s what you could expect *:

One Day

4 GladRags Day Pads – $59.96 (if purchased individually)
4 tampons + 1 disposable pantyliner – $1

One Cycle

20 GladRags Day Pads – $59.96
20 tampons + 5 disposable pantyliners – $5

Lifetime

GladRags Deluxe Kit (all the pads you may ever need) – $199
Tampons + disposable pantyliners – $2,216
* Our mathing is based on a 5 day menstrual cycle and this estimation of lifetime costs for using disposables.

Takeaways

  • If you bought cloth pads and only used them for one day, disposables come out ahead on cost (for that day).
  • If you bought cloth pads and only used them for one cycle, disposables come out ahead (for that cycle).
  • If you bought cloth pads and used them for multiple cycles, cloth pads come out ahead (if rotating through 4 GladRags Day Pads, they will have paid for themselves, economically, in 30 cycles).
  • If you bought cloth pads and used them for your entire bleeding life, cloth pads come out ahead by a couple THOUSAND dollars.

But we know, you’re still thinking, “Yes I know this. Cloth saves me money in the long run. But I still can’t afford them right now.” We hear you. And you’re not alone. Here are some wise words from others who have been right where you are now.

“I am still using the same set of 3 pads I bought over 10 years ago. And then a few years after that I bought another set of 3. That’s all I’ve ever needed. Amazing! But yes, I guess if cost is an issue, switch over gradually.” – Leigh Ann S.

“A lot of companies offer a free pad if you’re a new customer, and you just have to pay shipping. I got 4 pads this way, so was able to try them out. Then I bought a starter kit from GladRags! So worth it.” – Megan V.

“Collect items one at a time. Watch for sales!” – Tibby P.

“I started out small: my first purchase was pantyliners. That way I could try them out, the cost was lower, and I figured even if I didn’t go any further in my reusable lifestyle change that would be a good chunk of trees and money saved over the long run.” – Ashley R.

“Bought one or two a year, eventually had enough for a full cycle and have used them for almost 10 years.” – Stephanie T.

Remember back in the day when we’d all carry home our groceries in plastic bags? Or take our coffee to-go in a disposable cup? And then we started buying reusable grocery bags, one at a time maybe. And then we invested in a reusable lidded coffee mug. Well, the tide is changing for how we care for our periods, too. And even if the switch has to happen one pantyliner at a time, what matters is that it happens at all. And to get you started, here’s your first cloth pantyliner for just the cost of shipping. And if you follow along on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to emails, we promise to let you know when there are chances to build up your stash for less!