It's been two anxiety-filled days of waiting for the amazing conclusion.
Five days to test four different feminine hygiene products and figure out if full-time sustainability is practical enough for a period.
Day 1: Diva Cup
I figured I'd better start serious and break out the Diva Cup. Getting it in is a little tricky, and even though the instructions tell you to only use this product when you're on your period, I'm going to recommend you practice getting it in and out before your cycle starts. You'll be glad you did. Figuring out the logistics of my body while on my period was annoying, to say the least.
Anyway I did finally get it. It was quite comfortable. I had to trim the stem a little, but apparently that's normal.
The packaging says that the Diva Cup does not leak and only needs to be emptied every 12 hours. This wasn't exactly the case for me and I needed to empty it several times in the first 24 hours and I went through two liners. Luckily it was my day off, so it wasn't an issue. I'd like to give this product another test run next month before I give my full recommendation.
Day 2: Tampons and Liners
I paired up the tampons with the liners, just to be safe. I had already used two of the liners on day one, which was stupid of me, so I was a little worried. When my period finally started I was so excited to use my new stuff that I didn't really plan ahead at all. I was so used to having boxes upon boxes of pads and tampons that I just went ahead and used whatever, without thinking.
This made me especially nervous because I didn't know how well the tampons would work. I packed an extra liner and all the tampons into my wet bag and also shoved a few disposable tampons into my backpack, just in case. I knew that using them would mean that I failed my own sustainable challenge, but I didn't want any embarrassing issues at work.
The day was a success. The reusable tampons worked just as well as my disposable, organic ones, if not better. They're easy to roll up and put in and I had no leak problems that one little pantiliner couldn't handle. The bonus to the reusable method that I didn't foresee was that because there was no packaging, there wasn't any of the embarrassing noises associated with ripping open tampon packages in the bathroom. I don't mind blogging about my period, but I'm not about to broadcast news of my cycle at work.
Day 3: Tampons and Liners
Much the same as day 2.
Day 4: Reusable Pad
Well, here's where I panic a bit. I was out of liners and tampons. I had to suck it up and use one of the full sized pads, which I had only been using for evenings (in case you were wondering what I did at night). When I removed the inserts the pad was undetectable with slightly baggy pants. Really, these pads are great, it's just that they are longer than I need and they make me paranoid. Still, the day was fine. I pulled the pad forward a little and I don't think it ever became visible from behind. Phew.
Days 5 and 6: Pad Insert
There is maybe a bit of spotting by day 5 and 6, but as I said, I was out of liners. I decided to use an insert from the pads, even though they don't have wings and snaps to keep them in place. Amazingly I discovered that you don't really need the wings and snaps to keep pads in place. They just stay. No shifting at all, even after walking around all night at the bookstore.
Care and cleaning:
After using pads or tampons I rinsed them and tossed them into a small bucket of cold water with a lid sitting under my bathroom sink. I changed the water daily, and on my heaviest day I put a little detergent in there. If you change the water daily, it won't smell. By the last day the water will be clear. I dump the water and throw everything into the wash with my clothes. In the months since I started using the cloth pads overnight, this is what I have always done. I have never gotten a stain on my clothes and there aren't even stains on the pads themselves. Don't believe me? All of the pictures in the previous post were taken the day I wrote this, meaning they had all been used at least once and washed with my clothes using all natural powder detergent.
Tampons: Rinse them as soon as you can after use. They store just fine in the wet bag, but I really don't think you'll want them sitting in there for any longer than necessary.
Pads: Can usually be thrown right into the bucket without rinsing. Use your judgment.
Diva Cup: Follow the directions that come with it. They are detailed and easy. I used Dr. Bronner's unscented body wash instead of the Diva Wash, because I don't need to order yet another overpriced product from the internet.
Wet bag: Wipe it out daily and wash it with everything else at the end of your cycle.
Even though I carried disposable tampons around in my pocket all 6 days of my period, I never used them. Not one.
I splurged on my period, but I'm happy I did. I can honestly say I'm not going to be buying reusable pads or tampons any time soon and it'll save me so much money. The convenience of always having them here, ready for use is enough to sell me, but the environmental and safety issues are the greatest bonuses.