The 10 Best Reusable Period Pads (aka: Mama Cloth) of 2023

Choosing reusable period pads can help you save money on pads, and it will also improve the environment. Learn which ones are the best to buy.

Reusable period pads on a dark green background with flowers.

While in a landfill, disposable pads are estimated to take 500 to 800 years to break down, and materials such as plastic never truly biodegrade. This is of major concern given that each menstruator will use and dispose of 5,000-15,000 pads and tampons in their lifetime. That’s why many individuals are choosing reusable pads and menstrual cups for their cycle to be more eco-friendly.

In addition to the environment, there are costs to consider as well. The average menstruator spends about $20 on feminine hygiene products per cycle, up to about $18,000 over her lifetime. If that’s not a reason to switch to reusable period products, I don’t know what is.

Like our paper towels, it was time to change to something reusable.

Did you know the FDA tried regulating reusable period pads?

In December 2014, the Food & Drug Association decided to enforce registration of these items, even those made by work-at-home moms, if they intended to sell them.

It’s 2023, and the FDA insists these items must be registered, but they don’t seem to be working hard to enforce it.

This registration costs the maker thousands of dollars each year. While those prices may be a drop in the bucket for large manufacturing companies, the small mom-and-pop can’t afford the price tag and are being forced to stop making reusable period pads. Since most women purchase their mama cloth from small mom-and-pop stores or WAHMs, they are angry. They have every right to be.

Dear FDA,

There has been a lot of talk about you on the internet lately. Your enforcement of the regulation stating that reusable period pads are a medical device really has a lot of ladies with their panties in a twist. You see, you’ve had this regulation on the books for a while now, updating it to include mama cloth, and reusable cloth pads, back in April of this year. Now all of a sudden you are telling work-at-home moms to fork over the fees and putting small business owners out of business.

I’m sure you must have a very good reason for your actions. You always do. It must be that you want to protect the users of these products. There must be all sorts of terms that must be met in the name of safety. Oh, you don’t? Okay, so they can be made in any fashion with any materials and that’s fine. So what is your reason for this regulation? Why do the makers have to pay out almost $4,000 a year to make and sell reusable period pads?

In the event of a National Crisis, we need to be able to locate these devices.

For the record, FDA, we menstruators are pretty savvy. If there were a national crisis, I’m sure we could come up with some pretty nifty ways to keep Aunt Flo at bay. An unregulated tee shirt would probably do the trick. Or, as we’ve all had to do at some time in our menstrual lives, toilet paper comes in handy. No one is lining up at the menstrual pad tent when FEMA comes. We tend to be a bit more focused on food and shelter.

Well, maybe you are cracking the whip with all things that could be deemed medical devices. I’m sure you are strictly regulating the manufacturing and sales of things like anesthesiology devices, cardiovascular devices, and surgical devices. These are things that actually go inside our bodies. No? So let me just get this straight: You have absolutely no good reason to be putting hardworking individuals out of work. You have no justification for crushing the little guy. You are so busy regulating things that don’t need to be regulated that you don’t give a damn about products that should be regulated. Shame on you FDA. Maybe you should just stay out of our underpants.

Signed, The Menstruators

The Regulations for Menstrual Products

I want everyone to take a look at the regulations for these products. Section 5 is especially interesting. To sum it up, they don’t tell you what is required. They recommend you tell people what your product consists of and what it will do. Do you know what I feel is the real kicker here? Small business owners and WAHMs rarely have anything to hide. They tend to be pretty transparent regarding the materials and engineering of their products. It’s the big-name corporations that hide the fact that their tampons contain harmful chemicals like pyridine (a carcinogen) and their pads contain chloroform (a carcinogen, reproductive toxicant, and neurotoxin).

Items exempt from Medical Device regulations.

Reusable period pads, a menstrual cup, and plastic-free tampons.

The Best Reusable Menstrual Pads to Buy

Because of the FDA issues, you will not find large corporations on this list. Our focus is on supporting small businesses.

Battle Green Box

An eco-friendly alternative to disposable period pads, they are suitable as reusable panty liners, for light flow, or as a backup to a menstrual cup. Each set includes three soft, comfortable pads.

Shazzy Chic

These pads are made with 100% cotton topper, organic toweling, and brushed cotton core and backed with a soft polar fleece. They are super absorbent and comfy to wear. Sold individually.

Naturally Lady

The Naturally Lady Starter Set consists of all-black reusable washable sanitary cloth pads for lovers of black and offers extra discretion because of the dark color. The set includes nine pads.


AYRAcreations has a wide variety of cloth pads in many patterns, styles, colors, and absorbancies. No matter your shape, preferences, or budget, they have the reusable sanitary products you need. Many customizable packs are available.


PADSbyCCO is a non-profit that wants everyone to have access to healthy, money-saving reusable period products. They offer reusable period pads at a low price to help raise funds to keep their Period Poverty Programs running and to help more people build up their stash.

Cambodian Hands

These pads are made from high-quality materials (including bamboo charcoal) and are safe. For confidence day and night. They are very soft and gentle on your skin. Their starter set includes 5 pads and a wet bag.

Princess & Pea PADS

Enjoy a wonderful experience of 100% certified organic cotton. Available in 17 sizes/absorbencies and two stunning fabric patterns, Princess& Pea has you covered (literally). The set includes eight pads.

Reusable Sanitary Pads You Can Make Yourself

You can make reusable period pads if you’re even remotely handy. Here are some great tutorials to get you started.

If you have some scrap flannel and some okay skills with a sewing machine (you could also sew these by hand), you can make this simple cloth pad from Little House Living.

These pads from The Eco-Friendly Family are soft, absorbent, and easy to make.

For low-flow period days or as a backup to the menstrual cup, check out these panty liner pads from Permacrafters.

Brightly colored reusable period pads hung up on a clothesline outdoors.

Caring for Reusable Period Pads

Wash your pads by hand before first use. Leave your pads to hang dry. Washing your pads before first use will eliminate any residue or contaminants on the pads from the manufacturing process and increase absorbency.

Toss the used pads in with your other laundry and wash with cold water. If you don’t like mixing menstrual blood with your dirty clothes, you can hand wash them in cold water or give the pads a good soaking before tossing them in the washing machine.

You can use normal detergent, baking soda, or vinegar in washing machines. Baking soda acts as a natural stain remover, and vinegar acts like a fabric softener without leaving residue that can affect the absorbency of the cloth.

When drying cloth pads, you can put them in a dryer or let them hang dry. Do not set the cycle on high heat if you choose the dryer option.

Never use fabric softener or fabric sheets – this will cause the pad to become less absorbent. If your cotton pad is bunching, iron them on medium heat.

You may also want to try making your reusable bags as more and more states begin prohibiting or charging for one-time-use bags.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If by medical device is meant coverable by insurance.

  2. Sandy Hayley says:

    Because the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry are inextrably linked, anything that interferes with their “big business model isn’t a perceived threat Forney them and they will race past ex bounds of common sense to protect their financial interests, even to the point of regulating mama cloths. I suggest the name mama cloths be changed to “hotpads” and sold as a kitchen item (with accompanying pictures, of course) so they can’t find a way to regulate it! (I’m only partially jesting,). The only way to deal with the crooks at the FDA is to outsmart them because they are not going to listen to reason. However, if they want to label mama cloths as a medical device, then they must also label condoms, toilet paper, underwear…….?

  3. What happened to, it’s your body?

  4. KUDOS! Love this! If the mama cloths are considered medical devices, then perhaps women need to obtain a prescription from their doctors and file an insurance claim. Afterall, I believe they would fall under “durable devices”. Just sayin’! LOL! Great post, Jessica!

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      Thanks Tammy. I completely agree!

  5. Jorrae Ashlock says:

    My question is this…..after “locating the devices in an emergency situation” what in the hell are they going to do? Wast valuable resources collecting them?……Used menstral pads?! Then of course, they’d have to go looking for the agents they sent out to collect from the women who are USING them in an emergency situation, because obviously the person who comes up to a an already stressed woman looking for any uncertified menstral pads will be minus one head from shoulders or cowering in an alley after being bitch slapped by the red hulk that lives in all of us and emerges once a month.

  6. Kristi @ Homestead Wishing says:

    This post is really great. I laughed out loud, and thought that you made some very good points! I agree please stay out of our underpants!

  7. Do you know where I can get some cloth pads inexpensively to start out with? I want to switch, however, I’d like to be able to use my own money (I’m just a teen). I’d like to make the switch as inexpensive as possible, as my mother is kind of tired of my “organic-food-hippie” tendencies and I don’t want to give her anything to complain about.:) If you have a post on this I haven’t found yet please direct me to it. Thank you!

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      Etsy is a great resource that has everything from an economical to extravagant price point. Another good option might be making your own. There are hundreds of free patterns online, many of which use materials you might already have laying around. If you go with the DIY option, thrift stores are a great source for inexpensive fabrics.

      PS: Way to go for forging your own healthy path 🙂

  8. Judy Kruse says:

    This just blows my mind and is another reason I BELIEVE. that FDA stands for food and death administration. Look at all the stuff they approve that kills millions each year.

  9. Toni | says:

    What a shame, unfortunately it seems it’s more about a plan to protect the big businesses who give the FDA so much money to get their items cleared. And the $4000 sounds like a payoff for them to look the other way. Boo on the FDA

  10. Nicole @Little Blog on the Homestead says:

    The things the FDA chooses to be concerned with are exactly the reason why my one conspiracy theory is completely related to the FDA…seriously, I don’t trust them one bit

    1. I bring out my tinfoil hat for the FDA as well. I want to sell my homemade soaps here on the site, but I’m already on their radar, so I’ve held off.

  11. This was epic. Love it! I don’t use mama cloth, I use a menstrual cup, but I have two daughters who will definitely be starting off with mama cloth. Keep those toxins away from my kids, please and thank you! By the that time I’ll probably have to make them myself, thanks to this regulation. So frustrating, stay out of our way FDA!

    1. I’m going to be playing around with making them for my teen daughter. If I can figure it out, I’ll be writing a post about making your own.

  12. Homestead Lady says:

    I’m ordering as many as I can afford right now but I have four daughters. I think I’m gonna have to learn to sew these myself. Argh!

    1. If I can figure out a good pattern, I will be sure to share Tessa.

  13. It is probably more to do with the fact that commercial menstrual pads and tampons cause cancer, cramping, endometriosis, and other reproductive problems but cloth pads and keeper cups don’t. Since mamma cloths actually prevent cancer they are taking money away from Big Pharma for Chemo and radiation sales so affect long term profits. The presidents reports from a couple years ago stated that 1 out of every 2 adults in the US will be diagnosed with cancer within a year. How can they possibly meet this GOAL if women are wise and get the toxic “devices” out of their lives by moving to the more healthy mamma cloths.

    1. “How can they possibly meet this GOAL if women are wise and get the toxic “devices” out of their lives by moving to the more healthy mamma cloths.” I love that Chris. It’s sad that that seems to be the truth.

  14. Angi @ SchneiderPeeps says:

    I do hope someone from the FDA actually reads this post. The regulation is silly.