The Right Way To Wash Your Period Underwear

Typically, people who menstruate have regular periods for 40 years of their lives up until perimenopause, per Office on Women's Health. That amounts to an average of 480 periods over one's lifetime, which equals nearly 4,000 days spent menstruating. 


A period typically lasts from three to five days, and they are troublesome at best. Cramps, fatigue, mood swings, headaches, and backaches are a few pet peeves everyone experiences during menstruation. The worst part of all: period leaks. They can occur for a variety of reasons, but some of the most common are incorrect period protection size, continual movement, and inadequate absorbency.

Because of this, a variety of products have been created to lessen period-associated discomfort. One of them is period underwear, an undergarment that uses absorbent material, like microfiber polyester, to soak up menstrual blood, keep you dry, and prevent leaking. A reusable undergarment can take the place of disposable tampons or pads, but you can still use those products for extra protection on heavier flow days. 


"Period underwear typically holds somewhere between one and two tampons worth of flow," obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Karmon James tells Cleveland Clinic.

But does that make washing period underwear any different than cleaning other clothes? Here are some insights.

Always pre-wash your period underwear

According to WebMD, period underwear should be changed and cleaned every 12 hours, or as frequently as you deem necessary. The point is to combat the odors associated with menstruation and keep you feeling fresh. 


Before throwing your underwear into your washing machine with other dirty laundry, rinse them out in cold water first, says Tide senior scientist Sammy Wang, via InStyle. A pre-wash with a stain-fighting liquid detergent helps break down and remove stains. Apply a small amount of detergent directly to the stain, rub it with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and let it sit for five to 10 minutes. Then, run cool tap water over your undergarment, and let it air dry.

After they're completely dry, wash them on a delicate or gentle cycle using a stain- and odor-fighting detergent. Since period underwear is constructed of various layers of different fabric types, it should be washed in a mesh garment bag in cold water to preserve its condition. Typically, cold water works well to lift the blood stain without setting it. Once washing is complete, hang your underwear to dry.


How to care for period underwear

The durability of a pair of period underwear varies substantially depending on how it's treated and how frequently it's worn. It typically lasts anywhere between six months and two years, per The Period Co. To protect your underwear from heat damage, avoid washing it in hot water, ironing it, or machine-drying it, per Kora Mikino. 


Rather than leaving your used period underwear in the laundry basket, wash them as soon as possible to keep the gusset (crotch area) fresh and clean. 

Period underwear might be more costly than disposable menstrual products, but it's a wonderful alternative for lighter flow days if you don't want to use anything else. Apart from keeping you dry and giving you extra protection on heavy flow days, period underwear is reusable and thus a more sustainable option than disposable tampons or pads.

Aside from keeping you comfortable during menstruation, period underwear can also be used for postpartum bleeding and light bladder leaks.