Frequently Asked Questions
1. Where do I start?
Menstrual use – We would recommend starting by measuring 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 pad and measure that one to gauge length. For capacity, an average tampon holds 12-15ml and an average pad holds 15-20ml so 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.
8” pads hold approx 60-120ml
11” pads hold approx 80-200ml
13” pads hold approx 110-320ml
16” pads hold approx 210-420ml (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.
2.What are the topping fabrics/materials and their differences?
There are various fabrics available to top your pad with and they all have slightly different properties.
Pros – super soft, feels more dry against the skin, holds slightly more than cotton, 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
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 slightly more fluid than other topping fabrics, 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
3. Why don’t you offer a wider range of prints/designs/colours?
We offer a limited range of prints/fabric colours for topping options so that we can keep the prices as low as possible. The more choice we offer, the longer it takes to cut each pad (we cut by hand, there are no fancy machines to do it for us!) and therefore we’d need to charge more for the extra time. We’d also be able to make less pads overall. By limiting the range, we can work faster and get more pads made whilst keeping the prices down. As prints/colours run out, we will replace them with new prints and colours so do check back periodically or join our Facebook group, the Minivivi ViviClub, to be the first to hear about new additions.
4. How do I wear and wash my pads?
When you first get your pads, they won’t be very absorbent as the fibres will need “fluffing up” by repeated 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.
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 or ecoegg, 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 should be 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. Then check your topping fabric type above and dry accordingly. 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 washing machine before drying helps them keep their length and shape.
5. Core options and capacity
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 6 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 maximum capacity is around 450-500ml. 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.
The following chart shows the “working capacities” of various single-use products alongside reusable products. These figures were contributed to and put together by independent volunteers in the UK Nappy Network and various continence-based Facebook groups.
6. What do the different snap colours mean/How can I tell which core type my pad is?
Blue snaps – Extra core (6 layers of organic hemp and cotton)
Black snaps – Original core (4 layers of organic hemp and cotton)
Grey snaps – LITE core (2 layers of organic hemp and cotton)
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)
7. How wide are the pads?
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.
8. What length pad do I need?
If you measure the pads you currently use, you can pick a similar length from our collection. However, you will also want to refer to the capacity chart to choose your length and core strength. 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.
9. How many pads do I need?
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.
You can also extend how long pads last when using them for menstruation by using interlabial pads (Insert link to interlabial pads) 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 – you can choose 5 different pads to try and we give you a free wetbag for storing them. Use the coupon code ‘STARTER’ to get this special price.
10. Understanding pricing
Initially reusable pads seem very expensive. We felt the same when we first came across cloth pads. However, each pad takes approximately 45 minutes to make, and they are handmade in the UK for you rather than 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!
Price comparison and cost breakdown
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
10. What are the features and benefits of Minivivi pads?
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 any odour
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, 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