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July 10, 2020 5 min read

"INFO: The team previously at hannahpad Canada launched their own new brand, illum! These blog posts have been written when we used to run hannahpad Canada. All information is still relevant and everything is the same! We simply changed the brand that we offer. :slightly_smiling_face: "


After years of dedicated service, it could be time to say goodbye to your illum cloth pad. Yup, your beloved illum cloth pads—the same reusable menstrual pads that have stayed reliable even through the heaviest flows, helped you save a fortune, and given you plenty of health benefits by keeping toxic disposable menstrual products away.

If you think about all the benefits you got, it really is a reason to smile. You’ve just made a really good investment and have changed your lifestyle for the better. So even though it may be time to dispose of your illum cloth pad (which by the way, will only take 3-5 years to fully degrade), there’s plenty of reasons to celebrate.

But hold up. If you’re reading this article, chances are, you are at a crossroads. Is it really time to say goodbye to your illum cloth pads? How can you tell? Well, good news! We will clarify everything in this article.

Let’s get started!

 Cropped photo of a woman sitting beside various sizes of hannahpads

What Factors Affect the Longevity of My illum Cloth Pads?

There are various internal and external factors that contribute to the longevity of your illum cloth pad.

By internal factors, we mean the vital materials that make up the illum cloth pad. These give the pads their strength and functionality. These are also the materials that may get damaged somewhere along the way and when that happens, there’s a high likelihood that you will need replacement menstrual reusable pads.

Meanwhile, external factors encompass anything from the outside that contributes to the wear and tear of the illum cloth pad such as frequency of use and proper/improper care.

1. The Materials in illum cloth pads

We have two main materials to consider here: organic cotton padding and the TPU coating. Both of these work together so well to prevent leaks. Cotton is super absorbent and the water-resistant TPU coating keeps menstrual blood from crossing over even if the cotton pads are soaked. Damage, whether through wear and tear or through blunt physical force to these components, could mean the end for your illum cloth pad’s usability. But just how strong are these materials, anyway?

100% Organic Cotton

Let’s first look at cotton. In the fabric world, cotton is a known favourite for various appealing reasons. The softness and breathability of this cloth may lead you to think that it is weak, but far from it, cotton has moderate to above-average tensile strength. What makes it even more unique is that this tensile strength increases when the fabric is wet. So no need to worry about machine-washing!

The lifespan of cotton is definitely long. If you dig through your closet, you’re bound to find a 100% cotton shirt that has lasted 5, 10, 15 or more years. Though cotton can remain intact for a very long time, this doesn’t mean that it won’t go through changes as it ages. We’ll talk more about this in a later section.

TPU Coating

Now let’s talk about the TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethanes) coating. illum Cloth Pads have this coating instead of the PUL layer that most other reusable menstrual pad brands use. This high-quality coating is known for its elasticity and its ability to resist oil, solvents, and abrasions—making it the perfect reinforcement against leaks and a protective layer to illum cloth pads that are folded. TPU’s can withstand 300 washes or more, which, for menstrual pads, typically translates to 3-4 years of usage.

2. How Often The illum Cloth Pads Are Used

Whether it’s because you have fewer illum cloth pads that are in rotation or because of a shorter time between periods, your pads could be undergoing more wear and tear than usual. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wear and tear or frequent usage as illum cloth pads are built to be used.

But typically, each pad can be used approximately 75 times or more. So you can imagine how fewer illum cloth pads, more frequent periods—or both—can definitely contribute to faster wear and tear of these reusable menstrual pads. So if you’re using illum cloth pads at a more frequent rate, it can be a clue that they will tend to reach the end of their usefulness sooner.

By the way, if you want to know how many illum cloth pads you should have, check out this guide of ours, aptly called: How Many Cloth Pads Do I Need?

3. How The illum Cloth Pads Were Cared For

Just like any fabric-based product, your illum cloth pad has its own set of care instructions. Following these care instructions will definitely contribute to the longevity of your pads. There are certain harmful practices to avoid such as:

  • Tumble drying the pads Dry cleaning the pads
  • Ironing the pads Boiling the pads
  • Using bleach or hydrogen peroxide on the pads

If you have not been able to avoid practices like these above, it may damage your illum cloth pad before it has gone through it’s intended lifespan. To view the detailed care instructions, check out our guide onCare Instructions.


 Cropped photo of a woman holding a hannahpad along with a bar of laundry soap

How Long Can illum Cloth Pads Last When Cared For Properly?

Each illum cloth pad can be used 75 times or more. Typically, this translates to about 3-4 years of usage. Some users claim that illum cloth pads can be used for even longer. For example, the pad user in our article, REVEAL: What 3-4-Year-Old Cloth Pads Actually Look Like, claims that 4-year old cloth pads look as fresh as the day they were bought.

It’s amazing how much proper care can contribute to the lifespan of these pads!

What Signs Will Tell Me I Need to Dispose of My Old Cloth Pads?

We mentioned earlier that the two integral parts of the cloth pad are the TPU coating and the layers of 100% organic cotton. So when looking for signs that your cloth pad is no longer usable, we look closely at these two components. It’s ideal that around the 2 or 3-year mark, you assess these layers carefully.

For the TPU coating, the tell-tale sign is when it cracks - as this will impede the illum cloth pad’s prevention of leaks. As for the cotton layers, these might have physical changes over the years that can spell that the pad is nearing its end. Look for significant changes to the texture and shape of the cotton layers. From there, you can decide if it’s time for a replacement.

But decisions of replacement can be subjective too. Some users decide to replace illum cloth pads if it acquires staining that cannot be removed—but this goes back to proper care for the pads and can be easily avoided.

Do I Just Throw Old illum Cloth Pads Away?

illum Cloth Pads fully degrade after 3-5 years (TPU coating included.) Therefore, there isn’t any harm in throwing them away. Check out this comprehensive guide on how to properly dispose of your illum cloth pads in a way that is most beneficial to the environment.

How Do I Restock?

Is it really time to throw away your illum cloth pads? Well if so, we at illum, would like to congratulate you for years of savings, health benefits, and help to mother earth. Thank you for helping us make the world a better place, one illum cloth pad at a time.

Do you need cloth pad replacements? Check out what reusable cloth pads are available right now in our store. Upgraded product designs and cool new patterns await you!

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