“ Brand: Yurtcraft / Type: Sanitary Towels / Dosage Form: Pads „
Before I start I need to warn you that this is a review about menstrual products- so it's going to mention blood and lady parts.
I'll admit I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about cloth menstrual pads. They just sounded a bit nasty, unsanitary and a bit too crazy "green." However, trying them has absolutely changed my mind. When I moved to the UK a little over 3 years ago, I struggled to find menstrual products I liked. When I lived in the States I primarily used Playtex Sports tampons but they aren't available here in the UK. I tried countless other brands but couldn't find anything tolerable- I could either feel them inside me and/or they leaked badly. My luck with pads wasn't much better. How can you ladies put up with pads that crinkle like you have a plastic grocery bag in your pants? Or ones that don't stick well and shifts around? Or (unscented) ones that smell like baby powder? Or ones that make you sweat and smell down there? Every month I had to put up with a week of nasty, smelly, uncomfortable pads and tampons. I resorted to stocking up on my favourite brands when I went back to the States to visit family and even made my mum bring a few packs when she came to visit, but obviously that wasn't enough (I only go back once every other year). I had read good things about menstrual cups here and elsewhere and bought a Lunette cup, but I found it a bit uncomfortable and it frequently leaked (likely that would have stopped with more practice inserting it). While looking into what I could do to make my Lunette cup more bearable I came across a few mentions of cloth pads and started to look into them. Time and time again I saw Yurtcraft mentioned as a brand that offered superb quality at reasonable prices. I was still on the fence about trying cloth when I saw the most beautiful pad (wildflower pattern on a black background) that I just HAD to have. After that, there was no going back.
===Why choose cloth?===
First and foremost, it's about comfort for me. Yurtcraft cloth pads are WAY more comfortable than disposables. The first time I tried one I actually forgot I was on my period for several hours which wasn't a problem because they are as absorbent (if not more) than disposables. The cloth allows your body to breath so you don't get sweaty and smelly like you can with disposables. They are extremely thin (only a fraction thicker than an ultra thin disposable pad), but the fabric molds to your body so it doesn't feel like you are wearing a piece of cardboard in your pants. There's no crinkling and the fleece backed Yurtcraft pads don't shift around.
But there are other reasons to choose cloth. Disposable pads are made with a multitude of harsh chemicals that can irritate the sensitive skin down there (not to mention harming the environment). And of course, the sheer number of pads going into landfills is shocking and they don't break down quickly. I often have several days of spotting at the end of my period. I hated throwing away disposable pads with only a few spots, but they would get damp, smelly and uncomfortable after a few hours. But since cloth pads aren't going in the bin, I don't have to feel guilty about changing the pad as often as I like.
A number of women say they cramp less with cloth. I can't say I've noticed a difference, but they certainly aren't any worse. There's also something to be said about having something special, even beautiful, that you just use during your period. It makes the whole week that much more bearable.
Then there are the financial issues. Disposables are expensive. While the initial cost of cloth is higher, each pad lasts years making the long term costs considerable lower (although I might argue this one- because there are so many cute patterns you will end up buying more than you need...). You can buy cloth pads in a wide range of sizes and thicknesses to suit your own particular needs. This makes them far more versatile than disposables.
I have about 20 pads in my stash (over half of which are Yurtcraft pads because they are my favourite), which is just about enough to get me through my period without needing to wash and reuse any.
This seems to be what puts most people off the idea of cloth, but it really isn't hard at all. I use the dry method- I keep a small lined wicker basket with a lid by my toilet. I place my soiled pads in the basket until I'm ready to wash them (most of the time within a few days, but once I went on holiday and it was over a week later). They don't smell at all (well, if you put your head in the basket and took a big sniff they might smell a little, but you can't smell them if you're not trying to- not like disposables which I can smell in the bin from across the bathroom. When I'm ready to wash the pads I put them in a bucket of warm water with a scoop of oxygen bleach (I use oxo brite, but ecover works fine too) for an hour or two (or overnight). Then I put them in the regular wash with my normal clothes at 40 degrees. I generally don't put mine in the dryer, but the pads are dryer safe. Of all my pads, only one (a light green pattern) sometimes stains-but running it through another cycle does the trick. Just remember not to use fabric softener as it reduces the fabric's ability to absorb.
It's worth noting that every woman's blood is different. Some women have better luck placing soiled pads in a bucket of water until they are ready to wash (replacing the water at least once a day, until wash day). I found this to be more trouble and my pads were more likely to stain, but like I said, each woman's blood is different, so it might take a little time to find the method which works best for you.
Yurtcraft Pads are exquisitely made by hand by a lady in Texas named Lisa. I look at some of my other pads and think "I could make that," but I just stare in awe at the Yurtcraft pads. They are perfect, not one stitch out of place. The WindPro fleece backing provides better moisture resistance than standard fleece and washes better (pads that have been washed a dozen times still look like new). It also helps keep the pads in place and prevents slipping. The bamboo(70%)/hemp(30%) fleece is super absorbent while remaining very thin. And there's such a wide range of topping fabrics that you're going to have a hard time narrowing down your selections. To see all the options go to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yurtcraft/ or google "yurtcraft flickr."
Yurtcraft Pads start at 6" and go right up to 14.5" that's 15cm up to 37cm. There are 4 levels of thickness: liner (1 layer of bamboo/hemp fleece), regular (2 layers), heavy (3 layers), and ultra (4 layers). Most Yurtcraft pads are topped with quilter's cotton although she also uses cotton flannel, minky and bamboo velour. All her pads are backed with high quality WindPro fleece which provides a moisture resistant layer which is highly breathable.
I have a 7" and an 8" liner as well as three 8" regulars and one 10.25" regular pad. The 8" regular pads are sufficient to cope with my heavier days with the 10.25" one on the 2nd night of my period, which tends to be the heaviest. Even the 8" liner is fine for all but my heaviest day. I like the 7" liner for the lighter days at the end of my period. All my pads measure 2.5" at the centre (when snapped) which is perfect for my underwear. They flare out slightly (to about 3") at front and back, providing that extra protection.
One of the nice features of Yurtcraft Pads is that the centre stitching does not go through all layers, it secures the core to the top fabric, but only the stitching around the edges goes through the fleece backing layer. This reduces any possible leaking around the stitching.
I have never leaked in a Yurtcraft pad. Also, Lisa incorporates tiny stars or diamonds into the stitching to indicate the pad's absorbency (1 star = liner, 2 stars = regular, etc.). While this isn't strictly necessary when you are starting your collection I imagine it is hugely useful when you have a larger stash, particularly if you have more than one pad in the same fabric.
===Price and Availability===
A small selection of Yurtcraft pads are available from femininewear.co.uk where a 7" liner will set you back just £5, a 8" regular pad can be yours for £6 and a 10.5" maxi pad is just £7. I've ordered from them 3 times and couldn't recommend them highly enough. Alternatively you can order direct from the Yurtcraft shop on Etsy.com (prices start at just $5). I highly recommend checking out her flickr page for fabric options and placing a custom order. Lisa is absolutely brilliant and I got my custom order in less than two weeks (that includes sewing and shipping all the way to the UK). And I'm not alone in thinking these pads are amazing. They are among the most popular and highest rated on ClothPadReviews and Lisa's Etsy feedback is 100% positive with nearly 2000 rates. Her international shipping rates are fairly reasonable (although they have gone up a little since my last order); just be aware that you might have to pay customs charges on larger orders.
Yurtcraft cloth pads have changed my life. I don't dread my period any more. I think that says it all.