Country Living Series

Friday, February 19, 2010

For ladies only...

Okay guys, time to disappear. I know you'll want to anyway when you find out that the subject of this post is....(drum roll please) ...feminine hygiene.

Seriously, ladies, by now you probably know I'm into preparedness. I like to think we're fairly well prepared in terms of the basic necessities (and some of the comforts) of life if the economy gets tough(er). For the last few years we've been using reusable alternatives to most everything that’s disposable. And what's more disposable than feminine hygiene products?

For some time now, I've been "test marketing" reusable feminine napkins made by my friend Enola Gay. Along with some other ladies, we've suggested tweaks and fiddles and adjustments until she's come up with a design that works.

And let me tell you, these work. Beautifully. These napkins are better than any store-bought disposables I've ever used. No leaks, no slips, easy on and off, and they feel terrific (and soft!). If it's possible to gush over such a product without sounding like an idiot, I'll happily gush.

My favorite style is unquestionably the one designed for nighttime use. There's nothing worse than lying half-asleep in bed and, uh, feeling things getting out of hand. If you're lying on your back, there's an excellent chance you'll wake up with a stain on the sheet. Oh groan. But with this nighttime design, there's extra material in the back to catch that middle-of-the-night flow.

Reusable feminine hygiene products means you never run out. Have you ever had that moment of panic when you realize you need a napkin now and you don't have any more? For some women, it's a simple matter to drive down the street to the nearest store to resupply. For us rural women, it's more of a challenge (especially in winter) to make a dash to the grocery store. But what would it be like if disposable napkins weren't available at all?

After I started using these reusable napkins, I realized there's a side benefit I hadn't thought about: the cha-ching factor. You know what it's like - you keep using a disposable napkin until it's saturated (and possibly leaking) because every time you use a fresh one, a little "cha-ching" ("How much did that cost?") runs through your mind. But with reusable napkins, you can change as often as you please (for that "fresh feeling," don't you know) with no additional cost. Ever.

Washing is easy. I keep a bucket and tongs dedicated to soaking my napkins. When that time of the month calls, I fill the bucket about half-way full of water and use the tongs to press the napkin's soiled part fully under water. That's it. As the days pass, I pile more and more napkins on top each other (adding more water as needed to make sure the soiled part is always soaking) until either my cycle is over and/or I do a load of laundry. As long as the soiled part is soaking, I don't need to add anything else to the bucket except plain water - no hydrogen peroxide or vinegar or anything. When it's time to wash, I start the washing machine, use the tongs to fish out the napkins, and toss them in the washing machine with a load of dark clothes. Voila.

I air dry my napkins by laying them flat on my clothes racks to dry.

I've adopted Enola's attitude that "ladies only" items should be pretty and feminine. Accordingly I bought attractive picnic-style baskets from thrift stores for our items, and my daughters and I keep the napkins discretely stored in convenient places.

Enola's home business is called "Naturally Cozy" and she's ready to start taking orders. I estimate these products will pay for themselves inside six months. I ordered three sets – one for myself and a set for each of my daughters. Never again will we have to make an unexpected dash to the store for disposable napkins.

Enola has perfected a design for a daily-use panty liner as well. Whoo-hoo!

So here's my testimonial for Enola's reusable feminine hygiene products. If you want some peace of mind for that inevitable and unavoidable time of the month, I can't recommend these highly enough.


  1. Practible, smart and something I would never have thought of. But your are wrong.For men who really love their women, This something that needs to be concidered as well. Thank you for bringing this basic need to my attention.

    1. First day finding this site. As a newish prepper and a newer husband (2.5 yrs) and newish devoted follower of Christ (3.5 yrs, thanks to Him and his leading me to my now-wife)...
      I agree wholeheartedly that men ought not be shy to protect not only their wives heartbeat but also their overall health in all areas... going to review pricing and possibly get this as a discrete Christmas gift for my wife, I think she'd like the idea.

  2. I've seen a lot of people marketing these on Now, with your endorsement, I think I'll invest. I'm all for reducing and reusing.

  3. Hi Patrice,

    Please forgive me for being a guy, but I read every word you write, both here and at WND, and I couldn't help but be intrigued by what you would say about this particular subject. ;-)

    I've got to tell you my reusable feminine hygeine product story.

    We were in the process of moving and had several families over to help us pack. My wife and another gal went to the store to get food for our helpers. While she was gone, one of the helpers, a teenage girl, came across my wife's reusable panty liners in her dresser drawer.

    She brought one out to the livingroom where we were all gathered in anticipation of lunch. She was deeply intrigued by it ... wondering out loud what it was, and offering several (wrong) guesses. She passed it around to our other friends, who were as curious and intrigued as she was.

    She tried it on as a hat. Nope. Not the right shape. She thought it might be a doily. Nope, too lumpy. Maybe it was a cleaning rag of some sort. Nope. Wrong shape ... and what would the snaps be for? A hot pad for cooking? Nope. Would've been in the kitchen drawer instead.

    OK. So imagine me sitting on the floor (most of the furniture was already out) leaning against the wall, wishing I could just become one with the wallpaper ... dieing of embarrassment. In other words, I wanted to just become invisible in the worst way.

    I was hoping against hope that nobody would glom on to the real purpose of the intriguing item that the girl was waving around so curiously. I knew it would be extremely embarrassing for her, and for me.

    Anyway, she lost interest in it, and things returned back to normal before my wife even returned home.

    I can't remember if I even told my wife about that episode. So, honey, if you are reading this, just be glad you weren't there. Don't worry, I handled it like a man. ;-)


  4. Dave, I'm sitting here laughing my fool head off....

    - Patrice

  5. That's a good idea. I would love to find pads the don't slip and won't leak (although personally, I cannot even fathom wearing a pad until it leaks from overstaturation b/c I'm afraid of contracting Toxic Shock Syndrome).

    I have a few questions about these reusable pads. Having been raised in the disposable generation, I must ask: how absorbant are they? They don't look very thick in the photos. Does your friend use a super-absorbant filler material inside?

    Also, will they smell while you're soaking them? I live in close quarters, and I can't have stuff that smells (especially used pads).

    Finally, how much are they and how many are in a set?

    Thanks for posting!

  6. Tamtam, I'll try to answer all your questions, but I also suggest you look over all the pages on Tiffani's website because it gives good info (i.e., here -->

    I've found these pads to be surprisingly absorbent. She makes them with layers of terry cloth inside, and the outside is this wonderfully soft thick flannel (not the el-cheapo stuff you get in fabric stores - it's lots better quality). All together I'd say they're about 1/4 inch thick, which means you don't feel like you're wearing a diaper (some disposables are too thick for my taste).

    A set comes with nine day pads and two nightpads. If you routinely have a very heavy flow, you may want to order a couple extras of each so you can change more frequently.

    I haven't had an issue where anything smells. My oldest daughter noticed a smell in her napkins after a washing, and we determined it was because she hadn't soaked the soiled part enough (the bucket didn't have enough water in it) so they dried out. She now soaks them thoroughly and hasn't had a problem since. There isn't a smell *during* the soaking at all because everything is underwater (or should be).

    Prices are found on the link I gave you above.

    Hope this helps! Tiffani is always happy to answer questions - her contact info is on her website.

    - Patrice

  7. Thank you so much. AFter recently realizing the disposables give me a rash (New allergy?) I have been wanting to learn about these lovely replacements, and also wanted to know about the soaking.

    With having a girl that is about to be at this stage too, I appreciated hearing that your daughters use them too.

  8. I'm also experimenting with making my own but for at least 2 years I've been using .... socks!
    My favorite are black cotton socks but any kind will do. I usually use the odd ones and keep them seperate in a tissue box in my sock draw. I've had no problems with slippage but you could always safety pin them to your undies if you were worried. On heavier days I double them over, often reversing the fold when one side gets too damp. At night I open them up for extra length, using two if I feel the need. For light days I have a couple that I've cut to size, more as a liner.
    Its not a fool proof solution, I don't wear them if I have a very busy day at work ahead or when I want to get around in tight pants (they can be a little bulky) and I'm extra careful about soaking through on my first - and heaviest - day. But all in all using socks that I already own has saved me a heap of money. There are also no embarassing incidents as described above. You can carry extra in your bag and no one thinks anything of it if they happen to see them.
    Even if you don't like using them ordinarily they are a great stand by when you've run out of disposables! Its also a good way to see if you enjoy the feeling of cloth vs disposable, especially if you don't have much money to invest in reusables just now. I know that once I started using cloth, disposable napkins felt awful! I hate using them now, cloth feels so much better next to the skin.
    This is not to discourage you from buying the excellent looking reusables - properly made ones are 100% better than using socks or strips of flannel - but if you're trying to save money give socks a go until you've saved enough to buy a set of reusables. I highly recommend the switch!

  9. I believe I would have used these in past years; my mother tells of using "rags" and having a soaking pail in the bathroom. Thankfully I'm done with that sort of thing, having gone through menopause, completely naturally, I might add, no HRT for me thank you. I will recommend these to others who would be interested.

  10. I remember my mother using cotton diapers that were folded over, sewn and cut to shape to fit the crotch area. She had a heavy flow usually and these seemed to work well for her.