Country Living Series

Monday, December 22, 2014

Product review: Naturally Cozy feminine hygiene

Okay, guys -- time to disappear for awhile. Ladies, please stay.

Some of you might recall our neighbor Enola Gay began a business a few years ago making washable reusable feminine hygiene products. The business was so successful she couldn't keep up, so she sold it to another young family that lives in north Idaho. The business, called Naturally Cozy, continues to flourish.

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 (a couple of years ago we phased out whatever reusable household items we could, and feminine hygiene was high on the list). And six, as a prepper, I can think of no finer prep item than washable hygiene. Can you?

So when Enola started her business, we (Older and Younger Daughters and I) were just about her first customers.

We've been using these products for five years now, and I thought it was time to touch base once again and offer our experiences on how well they work.

Keep in mind the quality has improved drastically since we purchased our original sets of napkins. The fabrics and sewing techniques used in their construction have improved the products' quality, softness, thickness, and absorbancy. Yet our original napkins are still going strong. They show only the slightest bit of fraying around the edges and continue to perform their function superbly.


I also have about a month's worth of the daily-use panty liners and have come to loathe the store-bought versions after five years of cloth softness.


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.” The fabrics breathe, which decreases trapped moisture and the problems that accompany it.

We keep a dedicated bucket in our washroom for soiled pads, with a pair of dedicated tongs hooked over the edge. The bucket should be full enough of water that the soiled portion of the napkin is always submerged. Sometimes we’ll add a splash of hydrogen peroxide to the water, which helps loosen blood from fabric.

When we’ve all finished our cycles and the soak bucket is full, I use the tongs to lift the pads into the washing machine where I wash them by themselves, twice. The napkins should NOT be put in the dryer. Instead, we lay them on a wire shelf we installed near the washing machine and allow them to air dry.

About twice a year I soak all the (clean) pads in vinegar, then wash. This gets rid of any odor buildup.

We keep another dedicated bucket of water (with a splash of bleach) in the washroom for panty liners, then wash them with our whites (socks, underwear, etc.).

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 will be higher than disposables. But it’s also worth adding up how many disposables you purchase on a monthly or yearly basis, and compare them to the cost of washables. So far we’ve gotten five years’ worth of use out of our pads and they’re still going strong. The panty liners initially wore out quicker, but the quality has improved to the point where I anticipate similar longevity from my latest batch.


There is also the satisfaction of giving business to a hard-working young family which is hand-producing high-quality products. These kinds of cottage industries are known for their sensitive response to customer needs, and Naturally Cozy is no exception.


I don't endorse products very often. When I do, it's because I can strongly recommend them. That's how I feel about these particular hygiene items. They're wonderful.


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.


Ladies, I urge you to think about washable reusable hygiene items as a gift to yourself this upcoming new year.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention -- Naturally Cozy also has a line of incontinence products. Remember where I said small cottage industries often have sensitive responses to customer needs? Case in point.

28 comments:

  1. Great review for a fantastic product.
    I just regret that Mother Nature didn't allow me enough time to personally try them. Fact is I'm at the age where I'm on the prowl for washable incontinence pads and not sanitary napkins.

    I've always believed Enola Gay's home sewing business was a perfect model for every small holder who desires to achieve some sort of financial independence.
    The power of independent and creative people, who also understand the market forces to meet unmet consumer needs, has always defined real homesteading and traditional self-reliance.

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  2. I've been thinking about ordering some for a while now. Your review has made up my mind. Once I save up enough, I'm ordering! :)

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  3. normally, i immediately think 'yucky', although i have washed plenty o fdiapers and only used what the baby called 'plascit diapers' when traveling, for convenience.
    however, daughter is so allergic and has other 'issues' that i am going to send for the samples. they may be of great help to her from your descriptions.
    thanks for bringing us up to date.
    deb h.

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    Replies
    1. Deb- I highly recommend trying them. I switched to "Cozy" products a couple years ago because I was getting so allergic to commercial pads.... rash, itching, inflammation. I have not had any problems since the switch.

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    2. anonymous,
      thanks. ordered 5 of the organic for daughter to try.
      in the comments below a lady writes who had horrible after effects.
      deb h.

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  4. Been prepping for upcoming hard times for the past three years, just a few weeks ago the Holy Spirit brought this exact topic to mind...I'm too old for 'em, but just purchased a variety pack for the younger gals who will be staying with us at our refuge. I'm in Oregon and was able to purchase from a small company in Portland "Earth Girl Pads" who sell on Etsy. Thanks for the care and washing tips.

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  5. Hi everybody! We have really appreciated getting great phone calls from folks this morning! Just wanted to let everybody know that we also make incontinence pads. And, some people have reported something quirky is going on with our checkout process - not for everyone, but it is for a few others- and our computer fella is checking on that now. Please email or call if you have any problems with checkout. Thank you Patrice for such a great review! We love your blog!

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  6. Question, why don't you use the dryer? I'm still a little new to reusable pads so I've never heard not to use the dryer. I have 5 daughters but only the oldest 3 have cycles right now. I bought washrags for myself but I use a cup, like the Keeper. So the rags are used as a backup. For my daughters I bought pads from a friend who was starting her home based business. We have found them to be good although it took the girls a little time to get use to the difference. I too hated the cost of disposables but more importantly I didn't like the materials that touched their bodies. Wood pulp and plastic. Not ideal for a woman's body, especially such a sensitive area. My only issue is that it seems there is a odor that sometimes hangs on to the pads. I'm going to try the splash of bleach and, or peroxide. As for the yuck issue, I diapered my children in cloth diapers. Only the oldest and youngest wore disposables sometimes. The cost in savings has been great too. We still have not recouped the initial cost but we will. Thanks Patrice for this posts. I hope other ladies chime in with their thoughts too.

    LSM

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    1. LSM, try soaking your clean pads in vinegar (submerge them totally in cheap white vinegar) for a few hours, then wash them in the washing machine. I think you'll find the odor problem decreases greatly. I do this about twice a year.

      As for the dryer -- we don't use a dryer anyway, but my understanding is the pads aren't meant to handle high temperatures.

      - Patrice

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    2. It destroys the quality of the waterproof backing, I think is what they said.

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    3. Thank you both for answering! I will see if we can find a way to air dry them. Also, I will try the vinegar suggestion. Thank you again!
      LSM

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  7. Hi Patrice. I have used reusable panty liners for about a year now and am very pleased with them. I don't need the pads for a menstrual cycle either, but still need some protection for mild incontinence throughout the day. The chemicals on and in disposable pads are just one more thing I have chosen not to expose my body to anymore. Thank you very much for this article.

    Fern

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  8. I bought from naturally cozy maybe 2-3 yrs ago now, and I now greatly dislike disposable pads. I don't even soak mine....I fold them up on themselves, snap them, and put with the regular laundry. When I throw them in a load, I unsnap them, unfold them, and add them to my dark load (mine are all dark colors). I dry mine, too...didn't know I wasn't supposed to. They are great, and I've never had one leak. When it comes time for my dd to need pads, we will either buy or make her some!

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  9. the FDA is passing Regulation #884-5435 that will require resusable menstrual pad makers to pay an annual fee in the amt. of $3,646 in 2015, and $3,872 in 2016. Must be FDA compliant!!
    How absurd can our govt. get...write and ask them to repeal or greatly reduce this crippling charge to cottage industries. Urgent that you and your "friends" write. "We the People" website has a petition you can sign.

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  10. FDA regulation #884-5435 up for approval will require an annual fee by cottage industries making menstrual pads. In 2015 it will be $3,646 - in 2016 it will be $3,872. You can sign a petition at "We the People" in opposition to this job killing govt. intrusion.

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  11. I am past needing these but may consider the liners. As far as the cost comparison, right before nature made sure I didn't need these I was scheduled for a uterine ablation due to the allergic reactions I was having to every product on the market. I was literally using rags in order to prevent the oozing swollen rash I got every month that took an extra week to get over. My gift from nature came while the doctor was arguing with the insurance company because the procedure wasn't being done for reasons they deemed usual.
    These are a blessing and as I can afford I'll put some away for "just in case" some younger women, as in my daughters and granddaughters come to live with me, or as gifts.
    RBF

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  12. I have been using cloth for a few years now. We cloth diaper so it's no big jump for me. When our girls get older the same will apply, because I have no intention of buying them something different. I have to say, that cloth has made a world of difference post partum for me. I have used cloth after my last 2 were born and oh what a difference! Cloth is so much softer... there is no comparison. Especially on torn, sore skin. I healed much faster, which is a big deal when you have a bunch of little ones to care for. I would never switch back....

    As for the funky smell... I've dealt with this with diapers before as well. The soap to water ratio needs to be right or you will get a soap build up which can make for a funky smell after time. When you wash you want to have a stew like consistency in your washing machine with the amount of cloth and water. Then do an extra rinse cycle but before it starts to spin open the lids and check for soap bubbles. You will want to make sure there are no bubbles before you let them dry. The vinegar helps too, but I found out after doing cloth diapers for 6 years that my soap to water to cloth ratio wasn't right and that's what the deal was with the smell. We haven't had the problem since!

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  13. Oh and as for why not to put them in the dryer... if they use PUL for the waterproof backer(not sure if they do) it can de-laminate after many cycles through the high temp dryer and then cause leaks. Have seen this also with cloth diaper covers.

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  14. Replies
    1. A fabric called Polyurethane laminate (PUL) -- see this link:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyurethane_laminate

      - Patrice

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  15. I ordered some several months ago. Unfortunately, they were not the size I ordered, but smaller. Apparently the website had some mistakes on it. I was hopeful because I remembered the last post about these, but mine had a big leaking around the sides problem. Not through the waterproof part but on the wings. I'm not sure how that problem would be fixed but it's much worse than leaking through the bottom. Needless to say, I was disappointed. They did offer me a refund which I got.

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  16. So our cycles are now considered a "medical condition", regulated by the "careful watchdog", the FDA. For those of us with low budgets purchasing cloth pads are soon to be a thing of the past as many of these upstanding small businesses will not be able to pay the fees attached to selling a "medical device". Guess I will have to whip out the sewing machine for myself.

    On another note: since roughly half of the world's population now suffers from a "monthly medical condition" how long do you think before some "crafty" women decide to try to go on medical leave for a week every month? (;

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    Replies
    1. Rats! Wish I'd thought of that before menopause! (Just kidding)

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  17. Lauren is brilliant! my thoughts exactly! i remember going to work during my "medical condition" and it involved passing out, vomiting and horrible nausea, cramps, overheating, freezing and a whole pile of other crap! but i had to just get over it in order to attend the next meeting! if our monthly's are considered "medical conditions" then ladies take a week off every month!

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    1. For the 1st 3 days of most of my periods, I have intense pain that renders me totally useless, so depending on the job, there would be no point in me going to work cause I wouldn't be able to get any work done. I would barely have the ability to move. 2 or 3 days off would be enough for me, but I guess that's too much to ask.

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    2. if you are not already, try cutting out caffeine before, during , and after.
      just a thought.
      deb h.

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  18. Patrice,

    Regarding the FDA shakedown of manufactures of "medical devices" for menstruation; online petitions will be unsuccessful. The Gov is desperate for money and will continue to enact more and more ridiculous fees until the entire mess collapses in on itself.

    As an alternative to paying the fees, I suggest that cottage industries such as Naturally Cozy simply stop manufacturing medical devices. Instead, they could seamlessly shift production into "strangely shaped oven mitts".

    Seriously, market the liners as "cushions" against delicate skin being rubbed by pants seams or the like. If the end user chooses to "misuse" the product as a sanitary product, let the fda take it up with the consumer.

    I know a lovely woman who DEFINITELY DOES NOT MAKE (delicious old fashioned) ROOT BEER (out of sassafras root bark and yeast and other mystical ingredients) in her home kitchen for sale.

    She simply makes decorative bottles. Bottles clearly labeled not for human consumption, decorative use only. The front of the bottle has a decorative label and the "label" on the reverse has no ingredients or calorie counts, just the disclaimer above. The liquid inside is her special formulation made to LOOK like actual root beer. In our little slice of Chicago, she has such a demand for her decorative bottles that one must order several weeks in advance! *wink*

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  19. Love mine. Hint, ladies, if you're not terribly squeamish: the garden really appreciates the water left in the soak bucket.

    As for our over-reaching government, *sigh*. I wish they'd do what the rest of us do when things get tight: tighten the belt and the purse strings. If I funded my operations the way they fund theirs, they'd call it robbery.

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