If you’re going on holidays, and want to still use your reusable products, here are some ideas of how to deal with this. What products you use and how well you’ll be able to cope using them away from home, will depend on where you are going, for how long and also if you’re used to using pads away from home.
You will most likely need a “wetbag” – a waterproof bag in which you can store your used pads. You can buy these, or you can always use a ziplock bag or something like a PVC pencil case. You need something that will not allow any dampness to leak out, but it doesn’t have to be able to hold liquid. Some people recommend sing a bag that will breathe (or to leave the top open), to stop the pads going musty.
You might also like to think about bringing some baking soda to sprinkle on the pads (which will help kill odour and bacteria), and a few drops of an essential oil such as teatree or lavender in your wetbag can help mask any odours.
If you are going camping or somewhere where water could be scarce, you may not have the opportunity to wash your cloth pads. If you will only be gone for a couple of days, you could choose to fold your pads up and take them home in a wetbag to wash when you get back. Keeping the pads dry will help lessen any smell, but could allow the pads to stain – so you might need to soak them when you get home to help shift the stains. If you rinse the pads out before putting them away, leaving them damp for a few days could result in a musty smell.
The best option would be if you can rinse them out straight away, and then let them dry before folding them up and washing them when you get home. By rinsing them, the majority of the blood will be removed, lessening the risk of stains (and smell), but allowing them to fully dry before folding them up and storing them, will mean they are less likely to go musty.
If you are able to wash your pads, don’t forget to allow somewhere for them to hang to dry. Bring a couple of wire or thin plastic coat hangers and some pegs. This will allow you to hang your pads to dry almost anywhere should you need to. If you are staying in hotels, you can lay them over a bath/towel rail/coat hanger or something like that to dry them. You can also buy foldable hangers designed for socks and other small items. If you will be travelling from location to location, you can leave your pads drying as long as you can, then store them away and bring them back out to dry again at the next location.
If you are driving, the back ledge of the car is a great place to dry pads – so long as you don’t mind anyone being able to see them (they are unlikely to see them while you are driving however)
If you prefer to soak your pads before washing (eg if you find allowing them to dry out sets the stain), look around for a large plastic jar with a screw on lid that you can use to soak your pads while you are away. If you move from one place to the next, empty out the water, rinse out the pads and take the jar to the next place empty – and refill it there.
Another suggestion, if you travel regularly, is to keep a set of “travel pads” – ones you don’t mind if they stain, or ones chosen to limit staining. Synthetic tops (like minky, suedecloth etc.) don’t tend to stain, so those fabrics might be useful for you if you will be leaving your pads to wash when you get home, and your pads would stain from doing this. Also pads made from dark colours and bold prints will be less likely to show any stains. You could consider using pad styles that are faster drying, such as foldable pads, base+insert pads or pocket pads.
If using cloth pads seems like it will be too difficult, you might like to use a Menstrual Cup or Sea Sponge tampon instead. With these, all you need is access to water to rinse them with – although you might still like to wear cloth pads/pantyliners as backup. A menstrual Cup or sponge also takes up much less space in your suitcase or bag, and can even fit into your pocket.