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Cloth Pad Lengths Demystified

Are you having trouble deciding upon a cloth pad length to try?  Do you find that your longer pads have a lot of unsaturated space and wonder if you really need all that length?  Is your shorter pad uncomfortable?  Does your pad always leak from a specific area?                                                                                                                                                                                                   If you answered yes to any of the above, then this in depth discussion of cloth pad functionality as it relates to sizes is for you. 

Understanding Cloth Pad Absorbency 

Often, pad lengths are categorized by absorbency with longer pads generally corresponding to maximum absorbency.   While cloth pad surface area and density are directly related to absorbency capacity, a longer pad is not always the answer to maximum absorbency needs.  The reason for this is due to the manner in which cloth pads absorb liquid.  Fabric, in and of itself, does not distribute liquid contents evenly or immediately throughout the entire piece.  It reaches a saturation limit in a small area and spreads out from there.  Cloth pads are no different.   The fabric directly under the source of liquid contents will absorb until it reaches its saturation limit.  Then it will wick/spread contents outward toward whatever gravitational pull offers the path of least resistance.  If the person is sitting or standing, this pull will bring flow contents down fairly centrally,and if need be, out toward the winged areas.  If the person is laying down on their back or stomach, the contents will be pulled either to the back or front of the pad respectively.

Reasons to Choose Longer Pads.

Longer pads are recommended for overnight use especially if you tend to toss and turn, or sleep primarily on your stomach or on your back.  Longer pads are also recommended for postpartum or moderate incontinence use where the extra length means added protection against gushing and prolonged wear. ,Additionally, if you engage in vigorous exercise, the longer length adds extra stability to your pad as well as extra length protection.  On this same line, if your shorter pad won't stay put, a longer pad offers more gripping surface with your underwear which leads to more stability.. If you find you are leaking out the front or back of your pad, a longer length is also advised.  .Finally, if you begin to notice the "ledge" your pad makes toward the back end when you are sitting down and find this uncomfortable and/or too bulky,and adjusting the pad either forward or back does not solve the problem, a longer pad normally fixes it.  Even 1" longer can make a lot of difference.  

Reasons to Choose Shorter Pads

If you find the front and back few inches of your longer pad usually remains unsaturated on heavy days, and you are satisfied with the absorbency in this centralized area you can safely and confidently size down to s similarly constructed pad..  Discretion is another reason to choose a shorter pad especially if you tend to favor tighter fitting bottoms.  Shorter pads don't tend to show as much as longer pads in this instance.  Additionally, people of small frame oftentimes prefer a shorter pad so they are not overwhelmed with length.

Troubleshooting for Any Length 

If your "any size" pad is leaking out the wings, the issue could be one of two things.  First thing, you may need a more absorbent fabric (hemp instead of flannel or cotton), and/or a few more layers of fabric (inserts,sewn in layers), or zorb) to contain contents in the central location where they normally collect.  Second thing, you may need to change your pad more frequently, sometimes even immediately when soiled.

Final Thoughts

As always, try a few sizes before making a large investment.  If you were only going to try one pad size from our line for menstruation use, we advise the 10" pad in our Heavenly line or the 9" pad in the Venture line.   Our Venture line was created exclusively to improve the performance of our hemp fleece's ability to absorb more centrally and spread front to back regardless of body position.  For incontinence, we recommend trying the smallest pad size that matches your estimated loss from any of our pad lines..  

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1 comment

  • Jerry

    I’m trying to figure out which female incontinence pad would be best for a 84 year old woman with prolapsed urinary bladder?

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