Frequently Asked Questions
Menstrual use - We would recommend starting by measuring the length of your current pad. If you are unsure about the whole cloth thing entirely, start with just swapping your lighter days for either our 8” LITE or our Tween/SLIM LITE if you are more petite, and see how you get on. If you’re sure you want to do cloth, then choose your most commonly used single-use pad and measure that one to gauge which of our pads would be a closest match. For capacity, an average single-use tampon holds 12-15ml and an average single use menstrual pad holds 15-25ml and you can expect even our thinnest lightest pads to hold two or three times that.
If you’re still unsure exactly what to choose, our “Menstrual starter pack” is a set of the 4 most popular pads with a wetbag. We will top them with a mix of the different fabric toppings we offer and you will then have a mix of lengths, widths and cores to try.
Continence use - We would recommend starting by weighing one of your current pads after use. This will tell you how much fluid it is holding and therefore what capacity you need roughly. You can then decide which length you feel would be most comfortable and use the capacity you measured to decide which core strength to go for.
PottiPad (for children up to 8 years) - holds up to 50ml (narrowest point/gusset width 5cm, length approx 7.5”)
Tween/SLIM Original - holds up to 70ml (narrowest width 5cm, length approx 7.5”)
Tween/SLIM LITE - holds up to 50ml (narrowest width 5cm, length approx 7.5”)
8" Extra - holds up to 120ml (narrowest width 6.5cm)
8" Original - holds up to 90ml (narrowest width 6.5cm)
8" LITE - holds up to 60ml (narrowest width 6.5cm)
Long SLIM Original - holds up to 130ml (narrowest width 5cm, length approx 10.5”)
Long SLIM LITE - holds up to 70ml (narrowest width 5cm, length approx 10.5”)
11" Extra - holds up to 200ml (narrowest width 6.5cm)
11" Original - holds up to 150ml (narrowest width 6.5cm)
11" Lite - holds up to 80ml (narrowest width 6.5cm)
13" Extra - holds up to 320ml (narrowest width 6.5cm)
13" Original - holds up to 250ml (narrowest width 6.5cm)
13" LITE - holds up to 110ml (narrowest width 6.5cm)
16" Extra - holds up to 400ml (narrowest width 6.5cm)
16" Original - holds up to 350ml (narrowest width 6.5cm)
16" LITE - holds up to 210ml (narrowest width 6.5cm)
For higher capacity, please contact us to discuss options.
If you’re still unsure exactly what to choose, our “Continence starter pack” is a set of the 4 most popular pads with a wetbag. We will top them with a mix of the different fabric toppings we offer and you will then have a mix of lengths, widths and cores to try.
There are various fabrics available to top your pad with and they all have slightly different properties.
Pros - soft against skin, doesn’t crease or stain as easily as woven cotton, can feel cooler and more breathable than velours, stretchy and flexible, comes in lots of prints and can be dyed too, can be tumble dried but expect some shrinkage
Cons - stains more easily than velours, not as robust as woven cotton so caution with stain removers, can stretch over time and become ‘poofy’
Pros - very fast absorbing, holds lots of fluid, soft against the skin, robust, can use stain removers, can be tumble dried, can go directly on radiators, doesn’t stain as easily as woven cotton, cooler than velours
Cons - ‘bobbles’ fairly fast, doesn’t come in prints, shows creasing
Pique (athletic) cotton:
Pros - very fast absorbing, holds lots of fluids, dimples are great for gush capture, very robust and long lasting, can use stain removers, can be tumble dried, can go directly on radiators, doesn’t stain as easily as other cottons, cooler and more breathable against the skin
Cons - Feels more “rough” than other cottons, doesn’t come in prints
Organic Cotton velour:
Pros - very soft, feels more dry against the skin, organically grown and processed, more stain resistant than woven or jersey fabrics
Cons - doesn’t come in prints so is coloured by hand-dying, thicker than other cottons
Pros - super soft, feels more dry against the skin, bamboo is a sustainable fast-growing plant, more stain resistant than woven or jersey fabrics
Cons - bamboo doesn’t like heat so avoid direct contact with radiators etc, not as hard wearing as some other fabrics, bamboo velour can be warmer than other fabrics, doesn’t come in prints so is coloured by hand-dying
For deeper information about the fabrics we use and why, please see read our last FAQ "How do your pads absorb so much compared to other pads?" .
If you would like a material that we do not offer as standard, or would prefer your pads without a PUL layer inside, please contact us. We are also happy to top your pads with material that you send to us. Pop us a message to arrange.
As pads are hand-made to order, orders with pads have a turnaround of up to 10 working days, although you can usually expect turnaround to be much faster and your order should be dispatched within a week. Orders will be sent second class via Royal Mail unless otherwise agreed, or you can collect from Penny in Malvern (WR14) if you are local. Pop us a message to arrange so that we can contact you once your order is ready to collect.
Yes, but we can’t promise that we can do it! We are happy to make pads without the PUL layer if required - just add a note when you order. For any other requests, pop us an email or Facebook message and we will see what we can do for you.
When you first get your pads, they won’t be very absorbent as the fibres will need “fluffing up” by washing and drying (think expanding and contracting to “puff” up each strand of material from it’s very smooth initial state so that it has greater surface area and can absorb more and more). Hemp and cotton are both natural fibres that become more absorbent the more they are washed and dried so I always prewash mine at least 3 times before use, drying in between helps as absorbency builds faster as the fibres expand and contract. Hemp can take up to 10 washes to become fully absorbent depending on how vigorously it’s washed, so change sooner to start with and bear in mind that it’ll get more absorbent each time it is used. You can soak in cold water overnight then wash at 60 and tumbledry (on low heat) as a faster way to increase initial absorbency.
Once you’re happy with your prewashing, wear your pad with the longer end at the front, it can be turned round for spending longer periods lying down or if you sleep on your back. The grey fleece is the backing and goes against your underwear (this layer is impregnated with charcoal during manufacture to absorb any odours. This will eventually wash out. It lasts approximately 200 washes, which is around 4 years if washing once a week) then the wings reach underneath the gusset and fasten with the snaps. There are two wing settings to suit different underwear styles.
When you want to change your pad, undo the snaps (we’ve added a handy tab to make this easier) and rinse under cold water if required to reduce staining (or you can soak in cold water for a few hours prior to washing if preferred) then fold with the grey fleece facing out, and place in a wetbag to store until washing.
Wash at 40 or 60 degrees on a cotton cycle with your usual non-bio detergent, do not use fabric conditioner as this coats the fibres and reduces absorbency. Rinsing or soaking in cold water should reduce or prevent staining, but hanging outside will also fade staining even in the rain or clouds. Avoid harsh stain removers, but Violet’s earth-friendly bleach or olive oil soap are fine if you need something to shift stubborn staining. Biological detergent wears natural fibres such as hemp and cotton faster than non-bio detergent so we advise against using biological detergents with Minivivi pads.
When your pads come out the wash, give them a gentle stretch and flatten back into shape before drying. Repeated tumble drying, even on low heat, will reduce the life of your pads so line or airer drying is recommended (if you peg to an airer they’ll dry faster than if you drape them over it) avoiding direct contact with radiators.
Because our pads have a hemp and cotton core, they will shrink slightly for the first few washes and this has been taken into consideration when making them. Gently stretching and flattening when removing from the washing machine before drying helps them keep their length and shape.
Your Minivivi pads are very robust and should last many years if looked after well. There should be no need for harsh products like bleach if there is a good wash routine in place. As you want your pads to remain absorbent, washing them with your towels is a good idea. Towels also tend to be some of the more microbe-rich items in our laundry so if your towels are coming out fresh and clean, so should your pads.
Fabric conditioner and some dryer sheets will coat fibres and reduce their absorbency so we would recommend avoiding fabric conditioner on your pads, towels and anything else that you want to keep absorbent. If your pads (or towels) feel stiff or hard after line drying, rubbing them together briskly but lightly will usually soften them.
If staining is a concern, olive oil soap (any 100% olive oil soap) will usually remove most stains and is suitable for all types of fabric. A cold water soak for a couple of hours, then a rub with olive oil soap and a cool wash with your normal detergent is often all that is needed to remove stains. Olive oil soap is also inexpensive and long lasting. Some more harsh stain removers can damage certain fabrics so if you are concerned about your pads and olive oil soap is not having the desired effect, do contact us for further assistance.
Biological detergents can damage natural fabrics like hemp and cotton when used regularly over time. We would recommend using a non-bio detergent for longevity. As a rule, non-biological detergent can be used at higher temperatures, whereas biological detergents tend to be more effective at lower temperatures.
Minivivi pads currently have three core options, LITE is just two layers of our core materials (light grey snaps), Original is four layers of our core materials (black snaps), then Extra is 5 layers of our core materials (blue snaps). Obviously the thicker the core and the longer the pad, the higher the capacity. There is a limit to the amount of fabric one can put between the legs to absorb fluid without needing more strongly elasticated legs, so our pads current maximum capacity is around 400ml. We also hope to stock other products in the future, or can advise you on where to go if you need higher capacity than we offer.
Blue snaps - Extra core (5 layers of organic hemp/cotton blend)
Black snaps - Original core (4 layers of organic hemp/cotton blend)
Grey snaps - LITE core (2 layers of organic hemp/cotton blend)
White snaps - Seconds - a pad that has a flaw and has therefore been reduced in price. (These will also have either black, blue or grey snaps depending on their core)
Our standard pads are all 6.5cm wide at the gusset. Our SLIM pads are 5cm wide at the gusset. The wings also have two snap options to suit different width underwear, meaning you can tighten or loosen the wings as needed depending on the width of your gusset. The SLIM pads have smaller wings so the Extra core option is not available on SLIM pads.
If you measure the pads you currently use, you can pick a similar length from our collection. Some will prefer a longer thinner pad, others may prefer a shorter, thicker pad. We offer many options to suit as many people as possible. Please contact us if you need something different.
This is a difficult question to answer. For menstrual use, most people agree that 10 pads will be enough to wash just once at the end of the week. For incontinence, if you weigh one of your current pads after use, it will tell you how much fluid the pad is holding. You can then work out how many pads you are likely to need from there. We can help you do this if required. Your pads will be fine in a wetbag for several days before washing them, so you may need less than you think. For a free wetbag with any 5 pads, use code "starter" at the checkout (add your chosen wetbag to the basket first).
You can also extend how long pads last when using them for menstruation by using interlabial pad and of course the more often you wash your pads, the less you need to buy overall. We would recommend starting with 4 or 5 and then building up your collection once you know how long they last and which style suits you best for your period. You may prefer different lengths or widths for nights as opposed to days for example. Our starter packs are a great way to buy a selection of pads at a good price, or if you buy 5 pads, we will send you a free wetbag with your order for storing them.
Initially reusable pads seem very expensive. We felt the same when we first came across cloth pads. But when you do the maths, you can see a huge saving.....
From a menstrual point of view, according to https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/cheap-sanitary-products/ the average menstruating person will use around 10,500 menstrual products over their menstruating lifetime at an average cost of £1,470 at 2019 product prices. This is before taking leakage and other costs into consideration (See their link for more details and breakdowns). Minivivi pads are tested to 200 washes (but should last much longer if looked after properly) so assuming each smaller Minivivi pad lasts 200 uses, you would need 52.5 to cover the 10,500 single use products, at a cost of £446.25 and with much higher capacity in each pad, most people find they need significantly fewer changes with washable products as well, saving even more money. This is over the entire lifetime of menstruating. On a monthly basis you will only need around 10-15 Minivivi pads and they can be washed with towels at the end of the week so no increase in washing or laundering costs.
Menstrual saving - £1,023.75 over menstruating lifetime
From an incontinence point of view, the savings are even more. At an average cost per pad of around 25p for light to moderate incontinence (2019 prices taken from average price for moderate incontinence products via “Incontinence Choice” website) and with the NHS recommendation to change single use pads at least 4 times a day we are looking at 1,460 pads used each year at an average cost of £365. If a Minivivi pad can be washed 200 times and therefore replace 200 single use pads, the average cost of Minivivi for a year (based on using the 11” pads) would be £70.30 which is a significant saving. Most people using reusable pads wash with their towels and thus have no extra washing costs to factor in, but if we assume that we are doing an extra load of laundry each week at an average cost of 45p a week, the total yearly cost for Minivivi pads would be £93.70 so still a large saving.
Incontinence saving - £294.70 per year
Each pad takes approximately 45 minutes to make, and they are handmade in the UK with love and care (by people who have disabilities and incontinence themselves) and individually checked at every stage, rather than mass factory made abroad and shipped in. Our organic hemp/cotton blend material in the core is made specially for us and is the fastest absorbing and highest capacity material for how thin it is that we could find. We also wanted to avoid plastic and use ethically sourced, natural materials as much as possible so hemp remains our favourite fabric for the core despite the high price tag on it.
All the materials we use are tested thoroughly to ensure our pads are very robust and will last as long as possible but whilst also being ethically sourced and produced. Our pads can withstand at least 200 washes at 60 degrees with a low-heat tumble dry. For menstrual use, if you are washing at the end of your cycle, that’s 16 years! Even if washing weekly for incontinence, 200 washes is almost 4 years of use. When you compare that to how much you’d spend on single-use pads during that time, even using the cheapest single-use products available, our pads will save you a significant amount of money, and if you wash them with your bath towels each week, you’re not even running an extra washing cycle, saving you even more money!
When your pads are too worn to use anymore, send them back to us for recycling - if you enclose your address, we will replace your pads free of charge! (Like for like where possible, terms apply, please contact us for details).
A choice of different materials for the top, to suit different skin types/preferences
A unique organic sustainable hemp and cotton blend core for highest capacity
The pads are extremely thin for what they hold
A hidden waterproof layer for extra security against leaks
Thin microfleece backing and wings to grip to underwear and prevent slipping
Charcoal impregnated into the backing fabric to absorb and reduce odours
Reinforced non-wick wings to prevent damp thighs
A special tab to help undo the wings if you have pain in hands or fingers
Two width settings to suit different underwear
A choice of lengths and core options to suit a wide variety of needs
Cut, sewn and checked at every stage by people, not machines
Tested to 200 washes and beyond, Minivivi pads are very robust
Designed and shaped specifically for incontinence by someone with incontinence needs
Reversible design means you can turn the pad around if you’d prefer the length at the back
Environmentally conscious with ethically sourced and carefully considered materials
Personal service from people who understand incontinence
Free replacement if they wear out
Interlabial pads are small, leaf shaped cotton pads that you pop between your labia to direct flow towards the center and back of the pad. They are literally “Into labia” pads. Although it sounds uncomfortable they are surprisingly comfy and actually prevent the gushy feeling that can come with a heavy flow. They also add an extra 10-15ml of capacity so are like little absorbency boosters for your pads. If you change your interlabial pad often, you can make your actual pad last longer, which saves you quite a bit of money as our Interlabial pads are only £1-£1.50 each. You can wear them with either the cotton jersey side up or the brushed cotton side up depending which you prefer. Fold the pad and place between labia, or buttocks. You’ll want to leave a cm or two out the front so that you can grab it when you go to the loo, otherwise they become “into toilet” pads!
Intergluteal pads are very similar but designed to sit between the buttocks (your gluteal muscles) to absorb moisture and any leakage due to Crohns, IBS or other bowel disorders. They are also very handy for stopping your menstrual flow running between your buttocks and off the back of your pad at night or when lying down for long periods! You actually might not need larger pads for nights by using these handy little things!
We spent a very long time researching fabrics and their capacity/absorption speeds before deciding what to use for Minivivi pads. Penny has many years experience in cloth nappies and research into fabrics, detergents and laundry, so was able to utilise this when developing our pads.
Hemp/cotton blend - Our core is a blend of organic hemp and organic cotton fibres in a jersey weave. The blend is milled especially for us by a mill based in China that works solely with organic fabrics. In terms of capacity, the solution is to have many thin layers, rather than one thicker layer, as fluid can sit between the layers of fabric as well as within the fibres themselves. This results in a very thin but high capacity pad. We use hemp and cotton rather than plastic-based fabrics for various reasons; they do not hold odour like plastic-based fabrics can, nor do they suffer compression leaks (which may be an issue if sitting, lying down or moving around, especially with incontinence). With natural fibres, the fluid is held within the fibre itself, whereas with plastic-based materials the fluid sits between the fibres and can easily be shaken or squashed out like a sponge. Air flow is very important too and natural fabrics tend to be more breathable than plastic fibres.
PUL - Unfortunately there is currently no avoiding plastic when it comes to waterproofing. For the waterproof layer the only fabric that does the job we want is PUL (polyurethane laminate). We use a very high quality PUL that can withstand at least 200 washes at 60 degrees with low heat tumble drying. Most PUL cannot withstand that kind of treatment and will delaminate/lose the waterproofing layer if washed at higher temperatures or tumble dried. It is important that the pad is not placed directly onto a very hot surface (eg. radiator or pipes) as it can melt the PUL if the temperature is higher than 75 degrees. If you are concerned about the PUL inside your pads (if it is squeaky, or feels ruckled, or if you feel it is no longer waterproof) please return the pad to us with as much detail as possible about your wash routine and we will troubleshoot with you to ensure it doesn’t happen again. (In the majority of cases, we will replace the pad for you).
Charcoal impregnated backing - The backing and wings of our pads are made using a very thin and lightweight polyester microfleece that is impregnated with bamboo charcoal during milling. Bamboo charcoal absorbs odour and the microfleece grips to your underwear. If we backed the pads with the PUL layer, the pad could slide around in your underwear, and would have no odour-reducing properties. Although odour control isn’t really a concern with menstrual flow, it can be a concern for incontinence, especially when on certain medications. Again we have ensured that the charcoal remains active for at least 200 washes and if you feel your pad has lost its odour-reducing properties before this time, let us know and we will troubleshoot with you.
Top fabrics - You have a choice when it comes to the material that is against your skin. Each fabric has different properties so is suitable for different needs. For example, we recommend brushed cotton, also known as flannel, for fastest absorption. We offer this plain, or dyed. We hand-dye in house, using fibre reactive dyes that are non-toxic and do not adversely affect the water supply or environment. We also hand-dye our velour. Velour is very soft and has more of a stay-dry feeling against the skin than other fabrics.
We choose fabrics that we can trace back to source, with ethics and the environment in mind, as well as price. Where we do not know how the fabric is produced or from whence the raw materials came, nor how staff are treated and paid, we will not buy it. Occasionally this means changing a fabric type over time, or removing it from sale until we find a suitable supplier again. As we grow, our fabric selection will become more extensive, but for now, if you have sensory needs or would like a particular fabric, contact us and we will do our best to help. We do have a large range of alternative materials that are not available as standard but that we can use if required.
To answer this, we need to look at the differences in how different fibres absorb fluid and how different fabrics are used.
Plastic/polyester fibres are much lighter weight than natural fibres because of the way they are constructed, with air inside the individual fibres. Natural fibres hold fluid inside the fibres, whereas plastic-based fibres hold fluid between the fibres. This means that fluid can more easily “fall out” of polyester fabrics, which is why they dry more quickly than natural fibres. It means though that the fluid more easily squeezes out too under pressure - not great if you want to be able to sit down in your pad without it leaking!
The weave of a fabric is important too. The weave is how the fabric is put together. This affects how much fluid can sit between the fibres, how many fibres are in each cm of fabric and how long the fibres are.
Different weaves, even of the same basic fibres, will change the properties of the fabric, how it feels and how it absorbs. The fibres in different weaves are packed together at different densities. For example, hemp fleece will absorb much slower than hemp jersey because of the way the fibres are packed together and woven. Both are hemp though, so someone who is comparing a hemp fleece item to a bamboo towelling item may say that hemp absorbs slower. This is true in their experience, but if the hemp item had been a different hemp weave such as hemp jersey, or hemp towelling, they could have had a different experience entirely. Think about your cotton t-shirt compared to the same item made from cotton towelling - the towelling would hold much more fluid and take longer to dry, whereas switching it to polyester would make it lighter to wear, and much faster to dry, but it wouldn’t hold as much fluid. This is why polyester clothing is popular. It is light-weight and dries really fast. Microfibre is polyester too. “Ah!”, I hear you cry, “but microfibre is advertised as holding loads of fluid!” - It is, but it needs to be thicker and/or larger to do so. 20 grams of microfibre will be a much larger or thicker piece of fabric than 20 grams of cotton - so for microfibre to absorb as much as cotton, you need a much bigger, or thicker, piece of it. So yes, microfibre might appear to hold more when you measure it by weight, but when you actually take a pad and make it from the different fabrics, only then can you accurately measure how much they hold. A microfibre pad would need to be ridiculously thick in order to hold what a hemp and/or cotton pad will hold.
So looking at individual fabrics/fibres, how it is blended and woven is also important. It is extremely difficult to see or feel the difference between a jersey fabric that is 240gsm and one that is 210gsm, especially when you have a small piece or are comparing it once attached to something else. Then in terms of blending different fibres together, it is impossible to know from look, and very difficult to tell from feel, whether the fabric you are holding is 100% what it says it is, or partly something else. Our specially made hemp/cotton blend jersey looks and feels almost identical to a standard 45%/55% blend or even to a 30%/70% blend, but they each perform very differently. The topping fabrics we offer is a good example too - your jersey cotton topped pads will perform differently to your pique cotton topped pads, even though they’re both 100% cotton.
Then you have layering to take into consideration too. We could increase our GSM (grams per square meter) to make our fabric thicker then only use a single layer of it. This would certainly make the pad faster to make! It would also be the same thickness, so as the consumer you wouldn’t see a visual difference, nor feel the difference when wearing or washing. However, it would hold significantly less fluid than the pads currently do because the combined surface area would be less. By using multiple thin layers, we are creating up to 10x as much surface area within the core depending on the core thickness selected. This is why we can produce such a high capacity in such a thin pad. It takes longer to make and is more expensive, but it is worth it. The increase in surface area also increases the speed of absorption, as fluid can move fast between the layers of fabric to find available fibres to be drawn into.