What do you use to replace your disposable feminine products? I've seen the diva cup (which I find ridiculously uncomfortable) and the cloth pads, but how to wash the cloth pads? With your regular laundry...?
I've been using Gladrags for a little over a year now, and I think they're great! Lots more comfortable than disposable pads because the material is breathable and very absorbent. The Gladrags website has a very helpful FAQ page on how to use and launder the pads. I've been soaking the used pads in a covered container that I keep under the sink, changing the water daily, and at the end of the week adding a powdered oxygen bleach (I like the Ecover brand) to the container to sanitize and de-stain the pads. I then toss the pads in with a regular load of laundry. A little more cleaning involved than with the disposables, but the comfort of the pads and not having the hassle of stocking up on disposables is a good trade-off.
DivaCups aren't the only menstrual cup brand out there. There's plenty! Also a menstrual cup is not a one size fits all kind of deal. You need to know the location of your cervix, how heavy your period is and how wide you are down there to get an idea on which brand is the best for you.
I personally have a LadyCup mainly due to my low cervix and my light period. I would imagine the relatively large and long DivaCup would be incredibly uncomfortable for me too! So I suggest you research on other brands before giving up. Switching to the menstrual cup is probably one of my favorite change in my zero waste efforts.
There is also a learning curve, but it's worth it! And you get to know yourself better too while you're at it.
I would imagine the cloth pads laundering rules would be similar to cloth diapers. It's all about keeping them from smelling and making sure they stay absorbent.
If you're using an eco-friendly detergent or something that is "free and clear", you should be ok using your regular detergent. Make sure you aren't using any type of fabric softener in the wash or dryer.
An extra rinse cycle would probably be beneficial to make sure you don't end up with detergent build-up, which is where stink problems come from (with diapers, at least).
I wash diapers separate, but I would have no problem washing the pads with my other clothing. Probably not with the whites :)
I have a different alternative you can try. I worked at a health food store that carried small sea sponge "tampons" called Sea Pearls. At first I thought it was a little odd, but I tried it anyways. Well, that was 7 years ago and I'm still using sponges! It is a completely natural product with no chemicals and the sponges are good for about 6 months combined with disinfecting/cleaning methods. After the 6 months you can compost them the same way you would meat and dairy leftovers (Never in a compost that will go to produce for human consumption) I use two per period, that way when one gets full, I can change it out with a clean one and rinse the other one for the next change. This has been an awesome money saver and very eco friendly! I actually found that I can use the big sea sponges sold for body wash and save more money by cutting it up to the sizes I need. Just disinfect before the first use :) I can usually get about 6 or more out of one sponge. That way I'm not having to buy the little ones as often (plus they have a bit more packaging involved). The sponges work great, they hold a large volume and you can make one a little bigger for heavy flow days and one a little smaller for light days. Disinfecting is easy, you can either boil them or, what I do, soak them in alcohol over night. (But make sure they are completely dry before use!) Sea Pearls has a website:
http://www.jadeandpearl.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=18 It has a more in depth FAQ and other info on it. Well, good luck! I hope someone gives it a try!
I've been using the Diva Cup for almost 2 years now. I can't imagine using anything else now. Sadly, it took me months until I could properly insert it the first time, every time. In those first few months, I had moments where it felt uncomfortable, and moments when I couldn't feel it all. Now I know that the moments where it felt uncomfortable were because I didn't have it in the correct position. My only complaint with it now is that it is so comfortable that sometimes I forget I'm using it! Yikes!
I realize this thread is a little old, but I just found the ZWH blog & forum :)
I use Party In My Pants pads, http://partypantspads.com, and love them (love the fun name too!). The PIMPs site has great info on washing/care and it's really very simple. They also have awesome customer service for any questions, etc.
I store my used pads in a small wet bag (check out Planet Wise bags) in the bathroom, and just wash them with my dark laundry- easypeasy. I have also thrown them into lighter (not whites) loads too without any problems.
PS: We do cloth diaper, but I don't feel the need to include my pads in with those since putting them in my regular laundry works just fine :) Also, I use Nellie's PVC free dryer balls so I'm not sure if fabric softener would effect absorbency, but I would also suggest skipping fs if you do use it.
I have used "The Keeper" menstrual cup for 13 years -- the same one (the company advertized the it lasts for 10 years, but mine is still in perfect condition after 13 years) It's not made of silicone like the "Diva" cup, which my teenage daughters use. It's made of "natural gum rubber" or latex, which I know some people may be allergic too, and it's more rigid than the silicone menstrual cups I've seen. But it still works great, and is durable, I have used the same one (initial $26 investment, including shipping) without buying tampons since I got it.
I am so happy to have it! I mean that. In the last 13 years I have gone through several stages of life, from being a "poor" student, to graduating with my husband and having enough money, to starting my own business and having a sporadic income.
I never have the stress of running out of tampons or pads. No matter what my situation or where I am, I can have this menstrual cup with me, and I don't have to carry bulky paper products and I don't have to have money, and I don't have to take precautions to hide the disgusting trash produced by using disposable menstrual products from my family or guests.
Also, since the menstrual blood is collected in the cup, and doesn't actually touch me by sittting in soaked cotton against the inside of my body, I'm not in danger of Toxic Shock Syndrome. If you leave it in too long, it may begin to leak, but it won't make you sick.
For all these years, I have enjoyed the feeling of just pouring a little bit of blood into the toilet or sink, rinsing out the cup (or even wiping it out with a tissue, which is also an option if I'm in a public restroom) and using it again; VERSUS, putting blood soaked tampons or pads, wrapped in tissue and/or plastic into garbage containers and unwrapping a new plastic covered tampon or pad that I have carried with me or stored in the cupboard etc. to use -- up to 8 times a day, for a week out of every month.
For back-up protection in case of the menstrual cup leaking a little, I started 15 years ago using "New Moon Pads," and I still have them. They just lay inside my underwear. In the last 5 years, I have used "Lunapads" system of specially made underwear with straps to hold their pads in place because you can put one thin cloth pad, or a small stack of pads in place if you need to. I find it convenient and flexible, even to wear everyday to protect my clothing from feminine discharge or the occasion incontinence I may have, like when I'm pregnant, and I sneeze -- etc.
I hope my descriptions were not too graphic or offensive. Sometimes our fear of bodily fluids, germs, laundry etc. keeps us from trying options which reduce the waste created by disposing of our bodily fluids -- even if "zero waste" options are actually more sanitary in both the short and long terms. I just wanted to describe my experience hoping it may help someone to overcome their fears of trying something new.