We get asked for free pads on an almost weekly basis.
Some people ask for free pads because they are too poor to buy pads, some want freebies/samples in exchange for reviews or mentions on their sites.
We understand that some people are in tough financial situations and some people would like to give us extra promotion by advertising our products. However we’d like to explain our position on handing out free pads, and offer some assistance for those in financial difficulty.
We are a collection of work at home padmakers who are in many cases trying to make ends meet ourselves. We’re not large companies with large profits. Cloth pads being handmade and labour intensive are already priced lower than what our padmakers would earn as reasonable wage working somewhere else. It can take around 15-10mins to make a single pad. While reviews are great, it costs our padmakers money to provide free pads and many customers who have bought our pads do reviews on them without asking for free pads in exchange.
Many of us have decided that when we are in a position to donate pads, we will do so to support women who are in dire need of menstrual products. Such as the homeless, women in shelters and women in developing countries.
While we understand that there are many women in our own countries who are in difficult financial positions, there are women in the world who don’t even have access to clean drinking water, sanitation or schooling. They wouldn’t even be able to access a device to view this website. Many of us feel that those women are in much greater need of any aid we can give.
Cloth Pad Shop is currently working on establishing a sponsorship program to help support organisations who are providing sanitary products to women in dire need. Some of us have individually supported projects such as Days for Girls, Share the Dignity, Shanti Uganda, HURU and have recently donated snaps and a snap machine to help supply pads and padmaking equipment to villages in Nepal.
Need pads because of financial difficulty?
While we may not be able to donate pads to you, if you are in financial hardship and looking for cheap menstrual products, we have some suggestions that might help you.
Aid Agencies – Contact aid agencies in your local area, as some may offer supermarket vouchers or aid packages that may give you access to disposable pads.
Sew pads from household fabric – Cloth pads can be sewn (by hand or machine) using fabrics you may have around the house already. There are many free patterns available online that you can use. We would suggest using fabrics such as old towels as the absorbent core with old tshirts or flannel Pjs as the pad topper. You can use any fabric as a backing, so any old clothing or other fabrics could be used. Finding a suitable waterproofing layer may be a little trickier, so cutting a strip of something like a thick plastic tablecloth and placing that between your underpants and the pad might be the best option so that you can replace it as it wears out or if it doesn’t work well. Use the buttons found on old clothing as the closures on the wings of the pad. Sewing by hand may be more time consuming, but if it provides you with free pads then it might be worth taking the time to sew them. Try asking around friends and family to see if they have a sewing machine you could borrow.
Sew pads from purchased fabric – If you have enough budget to buy some good quality fabrics to make pads, check fabric stores for nappy/diaper making supplies, in particular any waterproofing fabric such as PUL or Windpro and absorbent core fabrics like bamboo fleece or zorb. You may find that buying “diaper cuts”/”nappy cuts” from online stores to be a good option for making a small amount of pads. While you may pay more per yard/metre for these smaller cuts of fabric, if you don’t need a whole metre then the supplies will cost less.
No-Sew-Pads – For inexpensive no-sew wingless reusable pads try folding terry facewashers up into a long rectangle and using those in your underwear. If you need a leakproof barrier you can cut strips of any sturdy flexible plastic, such as thick plastic table cloths, thick reusable plastic shopping bags etc. Just place the plastic layer between your underpants and the folded cloth or into the bottom fold of the cloth. If you don’t like the feeling of the facewasher and if you’d like something a bit more pad-like, you could slip this folded cloth into a small cotton sock to create a wingless pad. If you are worried about the cloth slipping around, you could use nappy/diaper pins to secure it in place (please don’t use regular safetypins as these could undo and poke you!), but snug fitting underwear is very important especially with wingless pads.
Second hand – If you’re not uncomfortable with the idea of using second hand pads or menstrual cups, there is quite a market for these second hand. Some are “gently used” and “prewashed only” pads – prewashed but never worn, or worn only a couple of times. These generally offer a cheaper alternative than buying new.
Purchasing a small stash – If you have a limited budget and can buy some cloth pads, the most cost effective pad option may be the “base & insert” or “All-in-1” style system. These are where you have a waterproofed base/shield with absorbent inserts that sit ontop (See example). This system allows you to change the inserts while leaving the waterproofed base on, so it might be possible (depending on the style) to use things like folded facewashers as additional inserts to give you more wear from the one pad.
One by One – It’s often cheaper overall to buy a lot of pads at the same time to save on shipping costs, but if you can find money in the budget to buy just one pad, you can slowly increase your stash by spending only a small amount at a time. You could do this to supplement pads you’ve made yourself or the facewasher pads.