Washable pads, 1902 & 1908, U.S.A.
CONTRIBUTE to Humor, Words and expressions about menstruation and Would you stop menstruating if you could?
Some MUM site links:

MUM address & What does MUM mean? |
Email the museum |
Privacy on this site |
Who runs this museum?? |
Amazing women! |
Art of menstruation |
Artists (non-menstrual) |
Asbestos |
Belts |
Bidets |
Founder bio |
Bly, Nellie |
MUM board |
Books: menstruation and menopause (and reviews) |
Cats |
Company booklets for girls (mostly) directory |
Contraception and religion |
Costumes |
Menstrual cups |
Cup usage |
Dispensers |
Douches, pain, sprays |
Essay directory |
Extraction |
Facts-of-life booklets for girls |
Famous women in menstrual hygiene ads |
Founder/director biography |
Gynecological topics by Dr. Soucasaux |
Humor |
Huts |
Links |
Masturbation |
Media coverage of MUM |
Menarche booklets for girls and parents |
Miscellaneous |
Museum future |
Norwegian menstruation exhibit |
Odor |
Olor |
Pad directory |
Patent medicine |
Poetry directory |
Products, some current |
Puberty booklets for girls and parents |
Religion |
Religión y menstruación |
Your remedies for menstrual discomfort |
Menstrual products safety |
Seguridad de productos para la menstruación |
Science |
Shame |
Slapping, menstrual |
Sponges |
Synchrony |
Tampon directory |
Early tampons |
Teen ads directory |
Tour of the former museum (video) |
Underpants & panties directory |
Videos, films directory |
Words and expressions about menstruation |
Would you stop menstruating if you could? |
What did women do about menstruation in the past? |
Washable pads |
Leer la versión en español de los siguientes temas: Anticoncepción y religión, Breve reseña - Olor - Religión y menstruación - Seguridad de productos para la menstruación.


Today's washable pads for menstruation and a directory for old washable pads on this site
{Two contemporary makers: Party In My Pants and Glad Rags)

When haven't women used washable menstrual pads in our society? Cotton menstrual rags hanging out to dry were a feature of many an American- and European-city landscape. Often users soaked the bloody rag in a bucket overnight to loosen the stain, then washed it the next day. [Read my thoughts on what European and American women used in the past.]

For women with money, the disposable Kotex (for COtten-like TEXture) pad, developed from bandages made in the First World War for American soldiers in France by Kimberly-Clark, was a boon in 1921 and thereafter, enabling them to forget about Sears, Roebuck menstrual traveling kits - I kid you not; see it at MUM! - and the like. The texture was cotton-like, because women were used to cotton and the new Kotex was made from wood pulp, making it cheaper. But not cheap enough for the poorer woman, who still relied on the cotton rag, or similar cloth, even today.

But with the heightening of awareness among women in the 1970s and 1980s, individuals and small companies revived the washable pad. Women comfortable with their bodies, and willing to spend the time required for the care of the pads, found the colorful and sometimes "wild" pads a delight.

The next three pages show a tiny selection of what is available from mostly mail order companies in the United States, Canada and New Zealand. In the future I will tell you how to contact the companies.

See a modern, beautiful bowl to soak used menstrual pads in.


Washable menstrual pad with underpants

Elastic bands hold this modern flannel pad in underpants made by the pad manufacturer Glad Rags (another maker is Party In My Pants). Pads come in all kinds of colors and patterns, and often have fillers to vary the thickness (and therefore absorbency) of the pads.

An official of a large menstrual products company visited MUM and saw washable pads for the first time in her life, although she had heard of them. Probably 70 percent of MUM visitors have never heard of today's washable pads, and probably 90 percent have never seen a menstrual cup. And these are intelligent, informed women.

Someone wrote MUM the following in March 2006:

"About washable pads: there are quite a few moms who have work-at-home businesses making these things. I find them to be far superior to Glad Rags. This page shows several styles:

"There are also work-at-home moms who make pad pots. An example: http://www.primalmommy.com/padpots.htm"

Snap-on style washable pad, Washable pad with belt, a menstrual sponge, a modern, beautiful bowl to soak used menstrual pads in.
Modern German washable pad,
Washable pads from
Almora, Uttar Pradesh state, India and Rajasthan state, India - American washable pad (pad?), date unknown -  Nineteenth-century Norwegian washable pads - Italian washable pad, probably from the 1890s - instructions for making Japanese pads, early 20th century? - German, about 1900 - 1902 & 1908, U.S.A. - Tip for making a washable pad, 1907 - German washable pads and belt, with case (about 1935-40)

See also the patent medicine Cardui, Dr. Grace Feder Thompson's letter appealing for patients, Dr. Pierce's medicines, and Orange Blossom medicine.
© 1998 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute work on this Web site in any manner or medium without written permission of the author. Please report suspected violations to hfinley@mum.org