How to Build Your Menstrual Cloth Pad Stash on a Budget

Menstrual cloth pads are finally having their moment. Since the pandemic created a brief feminine hygiene shortage, more people turned to reusable paper alternatives. Reusable cloth pads are one of those things. It’s exciting!

But…a lot of potential reusable cloth pad users lose interest because of the cost.

I see a lot of cloth pad business owners reinforcing the idea that you HAVE to spend a lot of money upfront to build a cloth pad stash, then providing a special promo code for their audience to save on a stash.

That’s bad ethics.

First of all, why would you spend more than $20 on cloth pads from a shop you’ve never purchased from? I bought five cloth pads from five different shops before I found a style and price that worked best for me.

Cloth pads are expensive up front, but save money in the long run.

People who aren’t willing to spend $200-300 on cloth pads right now don’t have a mindset problem. Those sellers have a gaslighting problem.

I’m Izzy, and I’m going to walk you through the steps I took to build my initial pad stash of 12 cloth pads for about $90. It has lasted me over five years, and I only recently expanded my stash.

12 assorted cloth pads lay atop a white blanket in a line, slightly layered on the next
I used just these cloth pads for at least five years because it was all I could afford.

This post contains affiliate links. If you buy through one, I’ll be compensated for the referral.

1. Free Party in My Pants Pad

First and foremost, cloth pad samples do not exist due to the type of product they are. It is considered rude, even as a blogger or influencer, to ask for a cloth pad sample from small business owners. Don’t do it. The reusable menstrual products (RUMPs) community doesn’t function this way. Bigger businesses partake in influencer marketing, but most will not.

(You do have better luck getting menstrual cups for reviews.)

However, some cloth pad companies will offer samples as part of their marketing strategy. You usually have to pay for the shipping.

The most legitimate, reputable cloth pad sample I’ve found comes from Party in My Pants (PIMPs) Pads.

  • DO get the extra snap.
  • Choose any liner.
  • Pay for shipping.

Use this pad for a few cycles, in conjunction with a menstrual cup, menstrual disc or whatever you use with pantyliners. Just use it like a pantyliner.

My PIMPs Pad slides around most of my underwear, because I didn’t get the extra snap. However, it absorbs quite well. I don’t use my PIMPs Pad much anymore, but it was extremely beneficial in my early RUMPs days!

Even if you don’t plan to buy more PIMPs Pads, it’s best to get the sample. 🤷‍♀️

2. Look for imperfect pads/seconds pads.

On Etsy, cloth pad sellers label cloth pads with cosmetic imperfections as “imperfect” or “seconds” — and sell them at a discounted rate. “Discounted” is another keyword to pair with “cloth pads” on Etsy search.

12 cloth pads, assorted, plus two menstrual cups laying on white surface in a circle collage
Can you guess which of these are imperfect pads? Hint: There are at least three.

Most of my cloth pads are imperfect because the cosmetic flaws are minuscule and don’t affect the overall use of the product.

3. Mystery/random pads

If you care less about the patterns and more about the price, you may be able to save money by opting for random/mystery options. Some cloth pad sellers will price these lower because they can grab a random design out of a mystery bin to ship to you instead of searching for the specific patterns.

I’ve done this a few times, but have become a pattern snob over the years and prefer the limited edition designs. 😅 I like to choose what I want too much.

4. Tree Hugger Cloth Pads Deals

Tree Hugger Cloth Pads (THCP) doesn’t do discounts. Anyone who promises you this is lying…unless they’re talking about the special events wherein THCP lists different pads to sell every hour — usually limited edition OR imperfects, and often many at a less rate than is typical.

If I recall correctly, there are TWO events per year: one in July, one in October. Shipping is free during these events, and they usually give out special gifts if you spend a certain amount.

My current stash is FULL of THCP pads from these events. 😅 Many limited edition prints because, again, cloth pad style snob.

I also find the Canadian currency conversion to USD pleasant. What would be about $200 CAD is about $180 USD. It’s a small difference that adds up.

5. Facebook groups selling secondhand cloth pads and menstrual cups

I’ve never done this, but I’ve been in groups where people have. It is sanitary, as all the precautions have been taken, but I could never just because of my personal germaphobic issues.

People sell their used cloth pads and menstrual cups that are in good condition, but no longer needed. Sometimes you can get them at discounted rates, but other times the shipping will outweigh the discount.

If you have no qualms about this, you would land better deals by finding local group members so you don’t have to pay for shipping.

Again, the pads and cups are cleaned and sanitized properly. I just didn’t care for this personally, as I wanted them new and to be only mine. I’d rather share with a partner, just because I don’t know who I’m buying from. I know it’s weird, but it is what it is. 😅

To find these groups, search “buy sell trade RUMPs”. I don’t know how active they are anymore after 2020.

Building a reusable menstrual cloth pad stash doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t have to fork over $100+ on something that might not work for your lifestyle.

Your first pad will probably not be the style you stick with, but you will probably develop an addiction to growing your RUMPs stash in the same way an autistic kid grows their marble collection.

The whole point of RUMPs is not just to save the environment, but to provide a healthier, more cost effective alternative to bleeders everywhere.

Not every cloth pad seller is a pushy capitalist, but there are lot of them out there. There’s a huge difference between educating someone about the upfront cost of RUMPs and telling someone they HAVE to spend the same amount as their grocery budget to build a bare minimum stash.

When you don’t have a lot of money to spend at first, you’re not being super frugal — you’re literally working with what you have. It’s not a YOU problem to pace yourself or seek budget-friendly options.

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