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Figuring out Fabrics

This can be another confusing aspect of cloth pads…. some talk about “OBV”, “SHOBF”, “PUL” …..what are these and what is best? Here is a little rundown…

Think about:

  • Softness (feeling nice against your skin)
  • Absorbency (how absorbent is it – some fabrics add extra absorbency)
  • Colour (dark colours to hide stains, light colours so you can see how much you flow)
  • Pattern (Do you want patterns for hiding stains and being fun)
  • Durability (How easily will it wear, some fabrics wear better than others)
  • Stain-ability (Will it stain, or can it hide stains)
  • Dryness (Some fabrics wick moisture away, and some can feel more dry when worn than others)

Natural fibres
Made from plant or animal fibres they are more eco friendly. These are absorbent and are generally more breathable and can feel cooler/less sweaty than synthetics. They can be more likely to stain, and when used as tops on pads, can feel wetter than synthetics. Fabrics such as Cotton, Hemp, Bamboo, Wool.

These generally don’t hold moisture, so when used as a top layer, they tend to allow the blood to wick through into the core, and stay relatively dry on top. Used as a backing they can prevent a layer to prevent the blood seeping through. Some synthetics work better at waterproofing than others. Synthetics can feel hot and sweaty if you are prone to getting sweaty in that region. Usually less likely to stain than natural fibres. Can feel very soft. Fabrics such as Polarfleece, Microfleece, Suedecloth, Minkee and PUL are synthetics.

So… lets look at fabrics as they relate to cloth pads:


Top Fabrics (“Toppers”)
The layer that goes against your skin, and the fabric you’ll most often see and feel. This is really up to personal preference and is often a trade off between fun prints or nicer feeling fabrics. Some women choose natural fabrics for a cooler feel, or organics for less chemicals, and some choose synthetics for their stain resistance and wicking ability.

Flannel & Woven Cotton | Velour, Sherpa & Terry | Minky, Suedecloth & Fleece


Absorbent Core Fabrics
This is what goes inside the pad to absorb the menstrual flow.  There are both natural and synthetic options available.  Check the “about” for information about absorbent fabrics in general.  Each option is discussed on the “Absorbent Fabric Options” page.

About Absorbent Fabrics | Absorbent Fabric Options | What NOT to use


Waterproof Fabrics | Backing Fabrics
These provide waterproofing and/or the backing of the pad.  Some pads do not have any leak-resistance or waterproofing.  Whether you need it depends on your lifestyle and your menstrual flow (both heavyness and the way it flows)

About Waterproofing | Waterproofing Options | “Antipill fleece” | Backing Fabrics