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Washing Cloth Pads

When you change pads, there are different methods to deal with washing the pad. Lifestyle as well as your blood's tendancy to stain can determine which method you find suits you best. 
Soaking Method - Place the used pad in a container of plain cold water to soak until you wash them. You may leave them soaking until the end of your period and wash them all together at the end, or wash at the end of each day. A little teatree, eucalyptus or lavender essential oil in the soaking water helps combat any odour, however it is recommended to change the soaking water every day or two if not washing straight away. The soaking water can be used on the garden as "grey water". Rinsing the pads out before putting them in the container to soak, and/or daily emptying the water out, rinsing all the pads and refilling the water, can help prevent odours.
"dry pailing" - That is to not soak them. Just place the used pads into your laundry basket (or empty washing machine) and leave them until you wash them. Some shapes of cloth pad can fold up to keep them tidy. Fold the ends of the pad into the centre, then snap the wings around to keep it secure. If this folding technique puts strain on the wings due to the shape of the pad, it is not recommended. Some women can find that allowing the blood to dry can lead to staining however, and prefer to rinse the pads out or leave them to soak.
Rinsing - Rinse them out straight away after you take them off, until almost clean, then either drypail or soak. This method has the advantage that the majority of the blood is removed from the pad before it is left to sit until it is washed, which can help prevent odours. Some women like to rinse the pads in the shower each morning to save water.
Cloth pads can generally be handwashed or machine washed, on hot, cold or warm setting. You should refer to the manufacturer's instructions on washing the pads however. Hot wash only if you have thoroughly rinsed the pads first, as hot water can set stains. Tumble drying pads is not recommended, as synthetic fibres (eg fleece or PUL) and snaps may be effected (also be careful of the snaps as they can become hot to touch). If you need to iron the pad (cotton can become wrinkled), do so on a low heat and iron only the cotton side (do not iron PUL or synthetic fabric), being careful not to touch the snaps with the iron. 

Hand WashingAnother option for smaller stash, rinse and hand-wash each time you change. Use a small amount of detergent, while rinsing gently rub the top of the pads against itself to remove blood and residue, and squeeze repeatedly until water runs clear. Make sure no residue or blood coming out when you squeeze the excess water to ensure its clean. Hang dry after hand-wash or run a cycle(with spin) in a washing machine before hang dry. Remember not to use any brush to avoid fabric damage.

You should not use fabric softeners or dryer sheets on cloth pads, as this can cause them to repel liquid (the last thing you want with a cloth pad!). A little baking soda rubbed onto fresh blood before washing can help remove stains, as can allowing them to hang to dry in the sunlight. If you have left the pads soaking too long and they have developed an odour, you can try re-washing them with a little disinfectant or essential oil, then allow them to hang to dry in the sunlight. 

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