How many cloth period pads should you have?

The quick answers: Most experts recommend having at least 10-12 pads to get through a period. For heavy flows, 15-20 pads may be needed. It depends on your unique flow and how often you change pads.

Having enough pads is key to managing your period comfortably. Running out mid-cycle is inconvenient and can lead to leaks or stains. Stocking up on pads takes some planning, but is worth it for peace of mind.

How Often Should You Change Pads?

Before determining how many cloth pads you need, it’s helpful to understand how often you should be changing your pad during your period. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Light Flow – Change every 4-6 hours
  • Moderate Flow – Change every 2-4 hours
  • Heavy Flow – Change every 1-2 hours

As a general rule, you should change your pad at least every 6-8 hours even on light flow days. Leaving a pad on too long increases the risk of leaks, odors, and skin irritation. It’s also important to change pads first thing in the morning and right before bedtime.

Pay attention to when your flow seems heaviest each cycle. For many, the first few days tend to be heavier. Plan to change pads more frequently during this time. Tracking your cycle with a period app can help you identify patterns.

How Many Cloth Pads Per Day?

Most period experts recommend having at least 10-12 pads in your rotation to get through an average 5-7 day cycle. Here’s a breakdown:

  • 2 pads for light days (changed 2x per day)
  • 3 pads for moderate days (changed 3x per day)
  • 5 pads for heavy days (changed 4-5x per day)

Having 10-12 pads gives you enough to work with as flow levels change each day. It also allows you to easily do laundry just 1-2 times per week.

Heavy Flows

For those with consistently heavy periods, you may need as many as 15-20 pads in your lineup. This accounts for changing pads up to 5 times a day on heavy days. It also gives you extra padding at night.

Overnight Pads

Be sure to have 2-3 overnight cloth pads on hand. These are longer and more absorbent to handle heavy overnight flow. You might use these in combination with a reusable pad for added protection.

Swapping Out

As your pads start to show signs of wear, swap them out for new ones. Try to have at least 10 pads in good condition at all times. Phase out stained, torn, or leaky pads.

Types of Cloth Pads

Cloth pads come in a range of shapes, sizes, and styles. Here are some of the main types:

Pad Type Description
Regular Standard size pad, approx 10 inches long and 3 inches wide.
Overnight Long pad, approx 12-15 inches long for extra coverage.
Heavy Flow Extra wide and absorbent pad.
Panty Liner Slim, lightweight pad for light days.
Postpartum Large pad designed for postpartum bleeding.

Within each type, you’ll find options with different fabrics, fasteners, and designs. Test out a variety to find your perfect fit.

Absorbency Levels

Cloth pads vary in terms of absorbency and thickness:

  • Light: 3-5 layers, ideal for light days and panty liners
  • Moderate: 5-7 layers, suitable for moderate flow
  • Heavy: 8+ layers, required for heavy flow

Having a mix of light, moderate and heavy absorbency pads gives flexibility across your cycle. Look for pads with stay-dry layers next to skin and absorbent cores like hemp and bamboo.

Create a Cloth Pad Stash

Follow these tips to build your cloth pad collection:

  • Start with 10-12 pads in a variety of sizes and absorbencies
  • Include 2-3 overnight/postpartum pads
  • Add 5-10 more pads if you have a heavy flow
  • Have a mix of light, moderate and heavy absorbency pads
  • Get different shapes and fastener types to find your favorites
  • Plan to replace pads once they show significant wear

It may take some trial and error, but you’ll soon have the perfect pad lineup to take you through any cycle comfortably.

Cloth Pad Storage and Care

Properly storing and washing cloth pads will keep them in the best condition:

  • Rinse: Swish used pads in cold water before washing
  • Wash: Include in regular laundry loads on cold, line dry
  • Store: Keep pads in a breathable bag or bin
  • Sun: Occasionally sun pads to disinfect and brighten
  • Replace: Swap out stained/worn pads for new ones

With a good care routine, your cloth pads can last for many cycles to come.

Additional Cloth Pad Tips

Here are some other pointers for an easy, comfortable experience with cloth pads:

  • Use a wet bag while out to store soiled pads until you can wash
  • Try period underwear as a backup on heavy days
  • Have unscented wipes to quickly clean up when changing pads
  • Use cloth panty liners on light days
  • Change pads often to avoid odor and leaks

Making the Switch to Cloth

Transitioning from disposable to reusable cloth pads takes some preparation but is worthwhile for many pad users. Here are some tips to help make the switch:

  • Start slowly – try using cloth on lighter days first
  • Build up your cloth pad stash over 2-3 cycles
  • Keep disposables on hand during your transition
  • Find a portable wet bag you like for on-the-go
  • Figure out a washing routine that works for you
  • Find your perfect absorbency levels and pad styles

It take a bit of trial and error, but soon cloth pads will be a comfortable, eco-friendly routine.

Troubleshooting Cloth Pad Problems

Cloth pads are simple to use, but occasional issues can come up. Here are some common problems and solutions:

Issue Solution
Leaking Use more absorbent pads, change pads more frequently
Odor Change pads often, rinse thoroughly, wash regularly
Skin irritation Ensure pads are not stained/dingy, try a different fabric
Staining Pre-rinse pads, use cold water, sun regularly
Worn out Replace pads that are leaky, torn or overly stained


Is there a risk of TSS with cloth pads?

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is very rare, but proper cloth pad hygiene is important. Changing pads regularly and washing after use reduces any risk.

What’s the best fabric for cloth pads?

Natural fibers like cotton, hemp, and bamboo work well. Stay-dry layers next to skin help avoid irritation. Look for absorbent core fabrics.

How many times can cloth pads be reused?

With proper care, cloth pads can be used for 2-5 years or more before needing replacement. Swap out heavily stained/worn pads as needed.

Are cloth pads cost effective?

While the upfront cost is higher, reusable cloth pads save money over time compared to buying disposable pads monthly. They also reduce waste.

Where is the best place to buy cloth pads?

Many brands sell cloth pads online, on Etsy, and in natural goods stores. Boutique brands offer high quality pads in various styles.


Finding your ideal cloth pad stash takes a bit of effort, but gives you reliable period protection cycle after cycle. Most women need 10-12 pads, while heavy flows may require 15-20. Having enough pads, changing frequently, and proper care ensures the best experience.

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