ON THE RAG: A Review of Novel Red Cloth Pads

Are you a victim of monthly menstruation? Do you dislike the price and waste of traditional tampons & plastic applicators? Have you ever used disposable maxi pads and hated them? Well, then I have the product for you!

No, I’m not talking about something uncomfortable and disposable. I’m talking about pretty, cozy, easy-to-maintain, cloth pads. Move aside for mama cloth, courtesy of Novel Red!

ON THE RAG will be a new series about all things reusable menstrual products! If you or someone you know could benefit from menstrual product reviews, stay tuned!

reusable menstrual pads are the Future

Face it, if you are someone who menstruates then you’ve used a maxi pad. You know those bleached-cotton pseudo-diapers that you stick to the inside of your underwear? They are downright terrible.

In fact, because they’re so terrible women and menstruating people have stigmatized pads as a nuisance and moved away from them entirely. Instead, people typically favor tampons. Unfortunately, cotton tampons have been linked to some pretty terrible health problems such as Endometriosis and Toxic Shock Syndrome, yuck! But have you ever heard of cloth pads?

Using cloth during your cycle is completely life changing. In fact, it was the standard up until Benjamin Franklin changed the game.

What did women use before MAXI pads?

The invention of disposable maxi pads came about by accident, thanks to Ben Franklin in the late 1880’s. Originally he was attempting to create a device to aid soldiers on the battlefield to quickly stop bleeding. Instead the design was repurposed for females during menstruation.

However, before the invention of disposable pads women often used cloth to maintain cleanliness during their time of the month. Women would use whatever cloth or rags they had around the home in order to control their flow. This is where the (now somewhat derogatory) expression “on the rag” originally comes from.

Throughout history women have utilized and favored cloth for their period needs. And truly, it just makes sense. It’s comfortable, it keeps odor contained, there are no icky chemicals. There are a plethora of benefits to using cloth pads as opposed to plastic.

Why switch to reusable panty liners?

It’s better for the planet

A standard plastic-based cotton maxi pad can take up to 800 years to decompose in a landfill and you only get a few hours of use out of it.

Cloth pads are estimated to last for as many as five years, though I have had some of my pads from Novel Red for much longer (10+ years) and they still look brand new!

It’s better for your body

Disposable plastic pads have been linked to nasty effects on your health. Disposable pads and diapers often contain volatile organic compounds and phthalates. When exposed to sensitive skin, such as your genitals, these can contribute to health problems long-term.

Cloth pads, on the other hand, are simply made from cloth! There is almost nothing different chemistry-wise than the underwear you use every day, other than their absorbency!

It’s better for your wallet

It has been estimated that women spend more than $18,000 on their periods over a lifetime. Maxi pads can cost around $500 extra dollars over a lifetime and tampons come in at around nearly $2,000! And let’s be honest folks, we know from experience that it actually costs much more.

You can buy a substantial collection of cloth pads from Novel Red for around $80 dollars. That’s enough to buy you ten Moderate-Level Cotton Print Cloth Pads. That leaves two pads a day for five days. Of course you can buy more and in different fabrics and absorbencies but that is enough to start anyone who has a standard flow. That’s $80 once, versus $2,500+ over a lifetime.

It’s much more comfortable

Have you ever used a standard disposable pad? Ew. They feel and sound (you know what I’m talking about) like DIAPERS! And if we’re honest with ourselves, they’re not much different than diapers are. Plus, standard disposable pads are not good for odor control…

Cloth pads feel like nothing, truly. When I wear cloth pads, especially pads from Novel Red, I feel as if I’m not even on my period. It’s an absolute life changer.

They’re so PRETTY!

Standard pads are so boring. They’re white and scratchy, bland and dull, and they can be really loud. Besides absorbency, it’s one size fits all which we know never works out.

Cloth pads come in a variety of colors, shapes, absorbencies, and most importantly: patterns! Novel Red makes pads in organic cotton, soft minky, piqué knit, seasonal & holiday prints, as well as their signature crushed velvet and NINJA pads. You can have cloth pads with prints from your favorite franchises, foods, animals, in your favorite colors, patterns, or themes. There is a ton of variety!

But Why novel red?

Novel Red is the best name in the game, hands down. I have tried pad brands from almost every popular seller and the only one that comes near Novel Red in terms of quality is Yurtcraft. But Novel Red absolutely reigns supreme.

There is something elegant and thin, yet sturdy and reliable, about Novel Red cloth pads that cannot compare to anything else I’ve ever bought or made. It feels as if you’re wearing nothing, yet I’ve never had any leakage. How is that possible? I’ll tell you how it’s possible: impeccable craftsmanship.

Hayley, the owner and operator of the company, was kind enough to send along a package filled with cloth goodies for me to try and report back to you, the reader. And report I shall!

In the interest of full disclosure, I have personally been a customer of Hayley’s for many years. My own cloth pad collection is now almost exclusively made up of Novel Red, those are always the ones I always favor. I haven’t placed an order in a while (I haven’t needed to, they last forever!) so I was curious to see how they had changed in recent years. The good news? They haven’t changed a bit. In fact, they’re slightly better!

do you like The Novel Red cloth pads?

11” Curve, Organic Cotton Knit, heavy absorbency, Microcosm print, limited edition snaps & Wind Pro fleece
11” Curve, Signature Luxury Crushed Velvet, moderate absorbency, Royalty print
9” Performance Piqué Polyester Knit, moderate absorbency, The White Rabbit print, limited edition black heart snaps
7” Minky, light absorbency, Watercolor Lotus print, limited edition white lotus snaps & blue Wind Pro fleece
A PUL Pad Storage pouch in the print Molten Moody

Per usual, Novel Red knocked it out of the park. The 11” Curve Organic Cotton Knit heavy absorbency in Microcosm had a white Wind Pro Fleece backing and the 7” Minky light absorbency in Watercolor Lotus came with beautiful blue Wind Pro Fleece backing. Traditionally, Novel Red pads come with their signature black Wind Pro Fleece (good for hiding stains, though I’ve never actually gotten a stain) so it was interesting to see how the lighter colors fared mid-week.

I was incredibly impressed with the resiliency of the lighter colored fleece! I used the Heavy absorbency pad overnight, which completely saved my sheets and underwear. Absolutely no leakage! It was comfortable and there were no stains left on the white fleece post-wash. I’ve never personally purchased a heavy absorbency pad or a Performance Piqué Polyester Knit from Novel Red, but none of them left me feeling disappointed.

On a typical cycle I use Novel Red pads in conjunction with a menstrual cup. I personally prefer the Moon Cup, though I know there are many fans of the Diva Cup, which I have also tried. For the purposes of this review I used only the cloth pads sent to me by Novel Red, and some additional NR pads from my own stash when I ran out!

Three cheers for Novel Red!

Taken with permission from https://www.instagram.com/novelred/

Novel Red is best known for their Alice in Wonderland themed prints and their Signature Luxury Crushed Velvet pads. But they are much more than that. The company itself is a statement that women, and menstruating people, are taking their health into their own hands. Not just on a personal level, on a planetary level as well.

By purchasing and using cloth pads from Novel Red, a small independently-owned company, we’re telling big brands like Tampax, Playtex, and Kotex (why do they all end in X?) that they’re doing it wrong. They’re contributing to our landfills and taking money from our pockets in the process.

You vote with your wallet, truly. Where you decide to spend your money is where more resources and time will be allocated. Spend wisely, bleed freely, and go check out Novel Red.


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