Reusable period pads – do they really work? We put Wear 'Em Out range to the test
On a mission to make periods more planet-friendly and pleasant, Abi Jackson tries out a new product
WEAR 'Em Out is a new reusable sanitary pad brand created by Lauren Derrett, who wanted to make her periods 'greener' after learning that a single disposable tampon or pad takes up to 800 years to degrade.
Other reusable pads she tried weren't comfortable or a good fit – so, roping in the help of her teenage daughter, she designed her own.
Wear 'Em Out pads come in four sizes (mini, medium, mega and mega-mega) and can be chucked in the washing machine (or hand-washed) and used again and again (it's said they'll be good for around four years). Manufactured in the UK, the aim was to provide a zero-waste period pad that's effective, reliable and, vitally, comfortable. We gave them a go...
:: What's the product like?
After finally making the switch from tampons to reusable period cups – and being very pleasantly surprised by the results – I've been curious about reusable pads. My periods are very heavy, so I always double-up on protection and easily get through a few packs of pads each month (that's a hefty pile of trash and fair bit of cash down the drain).
On first impression, Wear 'Em Out pads look great. The branding and design are lovely and they're super soft. Plus, a breathable, chemical-free pad feels like a much healthier and more pleasant option than many of the chemically treated, plastic-coated products we women are so often sold. These also come with a handy, secure-zip pouch with two compartments – one to store clean pads and one for used ones. On paper, they sound fit for purpose: there's 'double double' binding to lock in fluid, a moisture-wicking inner layer next to an absorbent middle, with a leak-resistant bottom layer.
Of course, a key difference is disposable pads have adhesive strips to stick them in place. Wear 'Em Out pads have fabric wings that close with poppers – but I admit I'm a little apprehensive. Will they stay in place? Will they really hold up to leaks and not feel soggy, or start to smell?
:: What are they like to use?
I start with the mega-size pad. It's slightly thicker than my usual sanitary towel, but thankfully doesn't feel bulky once I'm wearing it – and the soft fabric really does feel so much nicer and less irritating than a traditional pad. This alone is a big tick.
Nervous about leaks, I find myself moving around more carefully at first. However, I'm happy to report these fears are unfounded – and the pads really do soak up fluid and keep it locked in as promised. Also, there really is no odour. So far, it's thumbs up all round and I'm mega impressed that Derrett basically dreamt up the ideal product and made it happen (isn't that inspiring?).
The popper wings work well – although I switch back to a sticky pad when I hit the gym, as I don't want to worry about the pad slipping out of place during my workout. On a lighter day, it would probably be fine, but even an 80 per cent reduction in my disposable pad use feels like a big improvement.
:: What about cleaning them?
The instructions say you can wash them with your usual detergent at up to 40-degrees, then air-dry. I chuck them in my usual 30-degree wash and they're absolutely fine after.
:: Are they cost-effective?
The initial layout is obviously going to be more expensive than disposable products. Individual pads cost £7.99-£10.99 each, or you can buy bumper/starter packs with a range of sizes from £25.99. The Heavier Starter Pack, which contains six pads and a pouch, costs £59.99.
If you have heavy periods that last longer than a few days, you're going to get through quite a few pads, which either means lots of laundry or stocking up. So, making the switch isn't cheap and won't be possible for everyone – but for those who can afford it, you'll be saving in the long run (money and the planet!).
Overall, Wear 'Em Out pads do exactly what they promise and the comfort factor alone is a winner. Because my periods are so heavy and I do a lot of exercise, I'm not sure I'll use them 100 per cent of the time – but I'm certainly going to stick with them, and even if they make my periods 80 per cent more sustainable, I'm happy.
:: More at wearemout.co.uk