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17 February 2022

The Best Way To Wash Period Pants

I am a huge advocate of period pants. I think they have revolutionised periods offering comfort and reliability to menstruating people while also being eco friendly. This is a really useful post if you want to learn about period pants, but I’m assuming you are here because you have period pants already and you want to know how to wash them.

Most brands suggest that their period pants will last at least 2 to 4 years, or roughly 40 to 50 uses each. The real life span of period pants will depend on the quality of pants and the care you take of them. Cheeky Pants for instance are relatively low cost, but I have found the quality isn’t so good and it feels like the waterproof layer isn’t going to last 2 years, my Modibodi pants are really reliable, but have gone bobbly in the wash and my WUKA pants in contrast still feel reliable after many wears (but I don't like the styles as much).

A pair of period pants period underwear being worn
The Best Ways To Store, Wash and Dry Period Pants

Everything You Need To Know About How To Wash Period Pants

The washing instructions for nearly every brand of period pants differs, and while I feel bound to recommend you follow the instructions of the manufacturer I wash all my different brands of pants the same way because life is too short.

Storing Period Pants After Wear and Before Washing

Some brands suggest running period pants under a cool tap when you take them off until they run clear, but this is a bit of a faff. A more water efficient suggestion is to rinse them while you are in the shower. If you aren’t going to wash them for a few days I would rinse them out, but otherwise you can just store them in a wet bag, or waterproof container, until you have a chance to wash them. Aim to always wash them within 2 days of wearing them.

The Easiest Way To Wash Period Pants

Period pants are best washed in a washing machine at a low temperature (eg 30 degrees C or cooler) with plenty of water. Use washing detergent but leave out the fabric conditioner as this will reduce absorbency. You are also recommended to avoid bleach.

It’s fine to chuck them in the machine with your normal washing. If they haven’t been rinsed and they contain a lot of blood I would put them in for a short prewash first. Use a wash that uses plenty of water and is long enough to provide a deep wash. A delicate wash can be a good choice to main elasticity and to keep the pants looking good. A mesh laundry bag can help protect them if putting them in a general wash, but it's not necessary.

How To Dry Period Pants

I would recommend always drying period pants on an airer away from a heat source (eg not directly on a heat airer or radiator). Nearly every design of period pants has a waterproof layer made from plastic (often PUL) which has the important job of keeping the blood in the pants rather than it leaking through to your clothes. Too much heat can damage the waterproof layer.

Some brands say you can tumble dry their period pants on a low heat, but given this may shorten their life span I would avoid this. Avoiding heat means no ironing either, just adding in case you are the kind of person who irons their pants. 

How long period pants take to try will depend on their absorbency, what materials they are made from and the drying conditions. You can speed up the drying time using the tips in this post.

Help My Period Pants Smell!

There have been times that while wearing period pants I have noticed they have started to smell. This isn’t the smell of blood which tends not to be a problem, but a weird smell. Using my knowledge of cloth nappies I am assuming that this is due to a build up of product in the absorbent gusset of the period pants which then reacts to blood and other discharge. 

To get rid of the smell I follow a similar approach to strip washing nappies (but at a lower temperature) which essentially involves giving them a good wash with detergent and then to put the pants through multiple rinses until there are no bubbles visible in the machine. 

Modern washing machines tend to be efficient with their use of water which is great for most clothes, but if you are washing items designed to absorb liquids (like cloth nappies and period pants) you need to have enough water to remove both the fluids they have absorbed and detergent. 

Tips for washing, drying and storing period underwear
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