This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please read my disclosure for more details(Last Updated On: January 7, 2019)
Today we have a guest post for the ladies – how to save money on period products!
I’m sure that I don’t really need to tell you this, but feminine hygiene products are expensive. Have you ever had a bit of sticker shock when buying tampons or pads at the local drugstore? My guess is yes!
According to Chatelaine, the average Canadian woman spends around $65 ($50 USD) per year on period products. It’s not ideal for someone on a very limited budget.
Since 2015, people in Canada no longer pay taxes on menstruation products because they’re considered “essential items.” However, in the USA, as of 2016, there are just 13 states that don’t require women to pay taxes on feminine hygiene products.
That same article in Chatelaine mentions that making the switch to reusables can get that $65 per year for period products down to less than $4. I’ll give you a few details about my favourite reusable period options: menstrual cups and reusable cloth pads.
Frugal Option #1: Menstrual Cups
I’ve seen various estimates of the number of tampons used during a lifetime which range from 11,000 to 16,000.
I’ll use the 11,000 estimate. I took a look on Amazon and found that a box of 40 regular OB tampons costs $7.10. That means you’ll need 275 boxes of them, which comes out to just under $2,000.
Compare this to a menstrual cup. The Diva Cup costs around $30 on Amazon. The company recommends replacing it every two years, but most people find that it lasts at least five years.
The average person menstruates for 40 years, which means 8 menstrual cups. That equals $240, a whole lot better than spending $2,000 on tampons!
Tips for buying a menstrual cup
If you take a look over on Amazon, you’ll see that there are more than a hundred options. Here are a few quick tips to help you choose the best one:
- Check Amazon reviews carefully. They are a wealth of information.
- The cheapest cups are usually not the best option. They’re often made from sub-par silicone which is very flimsy. The result is that these cups often leak like crazy.
- Menstrual cups come in different sizes. Check the company recommendations carefully to figure out which one will work best for you.
- [Edit from blogger]: Keep in mind that there are different sizes available based on whether you’ve given birth or not. Make sure to choose the correct size!
- Some of the best brand names include the following: Lunette Cup, Diva Cup, Moon Cup, Lena Cup, Eva Cup. [Edit from blogger]: I’ve used the Diva Cup and Moon Cup and only have good things to say about both. The Diva Cup is still my personal favourite though!
- Consider taking a menstrual cup quiz to narrow down your options a little bit.
Frugal Option #2: Reusable Cloth Pads
Cloth menstrual pads are very similar to disposable pads, except that they’re reusable for 5-10 years. In general, most people need 5-7 pads to make it through their period. How many you need basically comes down to how often you do laundry at your house.
If you use pads instead of tampons, the total number you use during your lifetime will be similar to the number for tampons, 11,000-16,000.
The total cost of this will be around $2,000 as well. Let’s compare this to reusable cloth pads.
Reusable menstrual pads cost around $7 per pad. Let’s assume that you need seven of them, and they each last for five years.
Over a lifetime, that’s $392, far cheaper than $2,000 for disposables.
Tips for buying reusable cloth pads
- Again, check reviews on Amazon because they’re a wealth of information.
- You can also make your own cloth pads (check patterns on Pinterest).
- They come in a wide range of absorbency levels and sizes, ranging from pantyliners to overnight pads.
- There are some organic options for cloth pads, but they are quite expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, just go with the normal ones, but be sure to wash them before using.
- [Edit from blogger]: I’m a fan of the Lunapad (they’re also Canadian!). It comes in a variety of sizes and cute patterns. Although I have to agree, reusable pads are a bit less convenient than menstrual cups!
Are there any downsides to reusable menstrual products?
If cloth pads and menstrual cups are so much cheaper, why isn’t everyone using them? It’s a common question!
Menstrual cups come with a bit of a learning curve. It takes most people 3-4 cycles to really get the hang of inserting, and removing them. It can be frustrating and annoying. The good news is that the vast majority of people do figure it out; the key is not giving up too soon.
You also have to clean menstrual cups. It’s not really a big deal, but it takes a bit more time and effort than just throwing a tampon into the trash and putting in a new one.
Cloth pads come with the added inconvenience of extra laundry. If you don’t care about staining, it’s not so bad and you just have to throw them in with your regular load. If you do, then you’ll need to pre-soak then and use cold water.
The other negative to cloth pads is that they don’t have a sticky layer on the back like disposables do. This means that they can slide around on your underwear a little bit, particularly when exercising. Most people combat this by opting for reusable pads for everyday use, and then keeping a box of disposables in their cupboard for exercise.
Can I use cloth pads or menstrual cups when traveling?
A common question is whether or not cloth pads or menstrual cups make a good option when traveling. Cloth pads are kind of a terrible idea, because you need easy access to laundry facilities to make them work. Imagine carrying around a soiled cloth pad in your backpack for a few days? Gross!
On the other hand, menstrual cups are perhaps the best option of them all. There is no trash that has to be disposed of, nor is there any need to scramble around in an unfamiliar country to find feminine hygiene products.
A long bus ride or plane trip? Menstrual cups have you covered—they have a capacity 2-4x more than a jumbo tampon.
[Edit from blogger]: When I travel, I usually carry a bottle of DivaWash – Natural DivaCup Cleaner. It makes it so much easier to clean the DivaCup wherever I go!
Consider making the switch today
It’s obvious that you’ll save a lot of money, as well as help the environment by making the switch to reusable period products. Tampons and disposable pads are products that most people can just stop spending money on!
What’s less obvious are the health benefits. You’ll eliminate your exposure to toxic chemicals that are sometimes found in non-organic disposable pads and tampons. You’ll also lower your risk of toxic shock syndrome by making the switch to a menstrual cup from tampons.
Reusable period products for the win!
About the author
Jackie Bolen is a tree-hugging, friend of the Earth that can often be found on top of a mountain, paddling a river, or drinking coffee around Vancouver, Canada. She hopes that one day, a reusable period product will be found in the hands of every single menstruating person around the world. You can find her at Reusable Menstrual Cups.
If you loved this article, don’t forget to check out Jackie’s book on menstrual cups:
The Ultimate Guide to Menstrual Cups: An Eco-Friendly, Safe, Affordable Alternative to Tampons
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