Hi ekoTribe! I think I can speak for all of those who menstruate when I say that it is always is an uncomfortable and unsustainable experience. Buying menstrual products, such as tampons and pads, is expensive and pretty wasteful, as they're mainly made out of plastic, are not recyclable and surely not reusable! That's why many people nowadays, myself included, have been opting our for more sustainable and cheaper options: period underwear. So, if you're thinking of making the switch, I wanted to list out my learnings from 7 years of using these products, the do's and don't's, and my favorite brand out of 3 that I've tried ( Spoiler alert, Saalt is my top choice).
I started my journey with period underwear 7 years ago with Thinx, after seeing their advertisement all over the subway in NYC. I bought 10+ pairs of their heavy flow models and got right into it.
The way that period underwear works is that it has layers of very absorbent fabric that absorbs the period blood. Based on the model you buy, you can choose lighter or heavier absorbency. Even though the heavy absorbency models tend to hold a lot of flow, I personally like to double down and still use a tampon while going out. If I'm staying home and using just the underwear then I'd typically switch to a new pair 2-3 times a day. After switching it's best if you rinse the underwear with cold water right away, and let it dry until you do your laundry. From my experience of using these for 7 years, the underwear never smells and the period is absorbed quickly so I never feel as if I'm sitting in a wet patch. Every person's flow is different, so the changing occurrence would be different for you and your cycle flow. Washing the underwear is simple, I just add them to my laundry and wash them on cold, and then hang them out to dry.
Overall, I really liked the design of Thinx and how they fit. The downside is that material quality they use doesn't seem high. The elastic waist of my bikini pair started to rip just within the first year of using them, which was very disappointing. This had no impact on the performance of the underwear but it's not what you'd expect from a $30 pair. Yet, I was loving my Thinx underwear and after 5 years of using them I decided to get about 10 more. And then, news came out that Thinx had been using PFAS in their cloth. PFAS are simply tiny plastics that can be absorbed by the skin and lead to infections and cancer. So, even though the Thinx claims they no longer have PFAS in their underwear it's hard to trust them again, so I do not recommend these anymore...
About 2 years ago I got a pair of the "Sleeper Period" from Period.Co. The pros of them is that it's made from organic cotton and come at a great price of $24 (vs other brands at $39). The downside is that the material is very thick. While this is supposed to be their most absorbent model, it still feels like a diaper when I put it on... Thus, I wouldn't really recommend this to my friends.
Lastly, 2 years ago I bought 5+ pairs of Saalt, after doing a lot of research and reading that they do not have PFAS in their underwear. To start with, I really like the materials that they've used and that they have a seamless model. The material is pretty thin yet absorbs a lot. The styles they have fit comfortably and they're true to size. So, considering all of this, I highly recommend Saalt compared to the other brands I've tried.
Things to keep in mind are that you will still need to back your period underwear with other menstrual products in your heavy days, especially if you're going out. You also need to rinse them right away after each use in order to keep them clean, which sometimes can be inconvenient if you're not home. Lastly, you shouldn't put them on the drier if you want to preserve the absorbing quality over time, which can be inconvenient if you only have a couple of pairs and need to switch out. When it's time to get a new pair, you can use recycling programs such as Take Back bag to ensure that the old underwear material gets recycled.
To conclude, I highly recommend using period underwear. Overall it is a pretty smooth and comfortable experience, that can save you money and reduce waste in the long term. The best part is that most of the brands nowadays offer free returns, so you can try period underwear risk free and let us know about your experience!