(See "UPDATE" at bottom of this post)
Okay, guys -- time to disappear for awhile. Ladies, please stay.
Some of you might recall our neighbor Enola Gay began a business several 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 over seven 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 seven 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 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.
Women can choose their personal flannel pattern, which makes it easy to distinguish between pads for different family members.
Patterns range from playful to dignified.
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 them to the cost of washables. So far we’ve gotten seven years’ worth of use out of our pads and they’re still going strong.
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. They even offer a line of incontinence products because customers asked for them.
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.
Naturally Cozy also started another business addressing essential goods for the prepper: toilet paper. Specifically, an astounding amount of TP packed into a very small space. They call their company Privy Paper.
This is good-quality two-ply stuff.
And we're talking a lot of it.
If anyone is local, Naturally Cozy/Privy Paper will be at the Bonner County Citizens Preparedness Expo this upcoming weekend.
If you stop by, tell them I said "hi."
UPDATE: A day after posting this piece, I saw an article entitled "China 'fake sanitary pads' scam sparks health concerns." It seems "the discovery of a huge 'fake sanitary towel' operation in southeast China has prompted fears about the possible impact on women's health." Granted, this issue seems to be confined to China; however in my opinion it just reinforces how lovely it is to have a good handmade reusable version of a monthly necessity.