Product Review: Subz Reusable Sanitary Pads

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*Disclaimer: this is NOT a sponsored review. My sister and I decided to review Subz because we think it’s a cool product that could use some marketing and some constructive feedback.

About a year ago, I first heard of a product called Subz Pads. These are reusable sanitary pads, produced in South Africa. They are for sale to the general public, but also have a plan for free distribution to financially needy girls.

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that sanitary products for women have received a lot of publicity recently, worldwide. In South Africa, the cheapest sanitary pads work out to about ZAR1.40 per pad, and can reach as high as ZAR4.00. In March this year, New York revealed that the city would launch a pilot product to provide free sanitary products to girls.

Also, of course, sanitary products do have a big impact on the environment. During our third year, as part of our family medicine rotation, we visited a sewerage plant. The amount of pads and tampons we saw floating around… well, it seemed rather wasteful.

I have a clear memory of my mom telling me how she used to use a cloth pad with a belt as a little girl, and how pubescent-me thought it sounded so gross and uncomfortable. I had no idea that this was STILL the only option for many underprivileged girls and women until years later.

Last year, I asked my sister to review Subz for me (TMI: sanitary pads are not my choice of sanitary product). I purchased “Pack 1”, which comes with one panty (or underpants, I guess, but I’m South African so there!), three re-usable cloth pads, three resealable plastic bags, and a cute drawstring bag.

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I’ve asked my sister to give a quick review on the following topics:

Design:

The design of the product is really quite great. The panty and the wings of the pads have clip fasteners (or “poppers”) – so no uncomfortable and revealing belt needed. Initially it seems a bit confusing to put together (you almost think the seam is on the wrong side) but once you get it, you GET it (there is also a handy information pamphlet in the pack).

Sizing:

We ordered a size medium, because that is my default underwear size at most stores in South Africa. It was a little bit tight and uncomfortable – I would suggest ordering a size larger than your usual size.

Comfort:

The cloth pads are so soft and comfortable. A lot more comfortable than any of the disposable products!

Absorption:

Although it does not have the same “lock in” gel as most disposable products tout, these were still very absorbent and there were no leaky incidents.

Ease of cleaning:

The biggest problem (and the deal-breaker for me) was that the pads took FOREVER to dry. I regularly hand wash my underwear and small items of clothing – but Subz, even when wrung out well and hung in a sunny, airy room, remained damp for well more than a day. The result is that you end up reaching a point where all your pads are still drying; and that’s when I had to revert to disposables.

A comment on durability:

The hip elastic seems very durable and it will retain its elasticity for a long time. However, I did notice that the seems where the “poppers” connect started wearing quite early on. They will need reinforcement for a hardier product.

Another random issue:

The black colour is great for not showing stains; but it makes it difficult to gauge how far you are – both in terms of changing the pad, and in terms of your cycle. Even though it would probably look less… appealing… I would still prefer a lighter colour cloth pads.

The verdict:

I love this as a concept, and its comfort is fantastic, but the duration to dry was a deal-breaker and I don’t use them anymore. (Even if they could be tumble-dried, I don’t have access to one – and most needy girls probably won’t either.)

I think to truly make a big impact Subz will need not only more marketing, but also a solution to this problem…

So, we wonder if THIS product might not make an excellent pairing? It’s called Flo, and was designed by some art students last year precisely for the purpose of drying reusable pads. Read Tech Insider’s article about it here.

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What do you think? Have you ever used cloth sanitary products before, or would you ever consider it? Just like the return to cloth diapers, it does have the propensity to seem like a fad; but it does have its benefits. 

2 thoughts on “Product Review: Subz Reusable Sanitary Pads

  1. In Canada we have a lot of publicity and hype right now over the menstrual cup. I haven’t used one before but like you, pads are not my product of choice and I don’t think I could ever go back to using them… Disposable or reusable.

    • Ya, the menstrual cup is making waves here too, especially because you could give an underprivileged woman a cup that lasts ten years for the cost of less than a year’s worth of pads/tampons. I haven’t used one myself but I’ve been meaning to order one.

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