Most styles have wings that fasten with press-studs, buttons or “velcro” instead of the adhesive that disposable pads use. so they will look and be worn like a disposable pad. Some styles may have additional boosters and inserts, but most cloth pads are ready to go as is.
You need to throw out the daggy “Granny Undies” though, as even winged cloth pads work better on snug fitting undies (They don’t need to be tight, but if the fabric is too loose, the pad can shift around a bit).
Wingless pads are generally made with a fleece or some sort of textured fabric backing to prevent slipping. As long as your underpants are reasonably snug fitting, they should not move about so shouldn’t require fastening to your underpants. You just need to remember to take extra care when pulling your pants down to go to the toilet, as wingless pads can fall out onto the floor or into the toilet bowl! They can be more comfortable for bike/horse riding though, because there are no snaps to make it uncomfortable when sitting.
You should find them as absorbent as a disposable pad (if not more so), but for hygiene, change them as often as you would a disposable pad (that is meant to be every 4 hours). Many people use one or two pads a day and a night one for night time. On heavy days you may feel more comfortable changing them more often.
When you change your pad, you can pop the used pad into a bucket of water to soak and put on a fresh pad. Or you may like to rinse out your pad straight away (or leave it as it is) and put it in the washing basket to add to your next load of washing, or even hand wash straight away. Then when you are ready, wash and hang the pad out to dry. Cloth pads can be hand washed or machine washed (depending on your preference or the manufacturer’s instructions). If they are soaked or rinsed out straight away (in cold water) they should be less likely to stain. If the pad is allowed to dry out before washing it is more likely to stain.
You will need between 2-5 pads a day, depending on how often you like to change your pad, how heavy your flow is and how absorbent your pads are. Pads are usually changed whenever you go to the toilet (otherwise when you pull your underpants back up you’re greeted with a wet and slightly cold pad, and that’s not so nice at all), so you can use that as a guide. It is recommended to have at least 6-12 pads. 20 is a good sized stash (but of course more is better). The more you have the less wear & tear on each pad, making them last longer. This might seem like a lot of expense to begin with, but they will soon pay for themselves in savings. And you may find it fun to collect pads, having different colours and styles just like you would clothing choices. It is best to make sure you have several days supply in case you are not able to get them washed and dry in time. You can add to your cloth pad collection as time goes by, buying a few now and then to spread the expense and wear and tear on your pads.