Cost Comparison Reusable V Disposable Menstrual Products

It is estimated that the average woman spends £18000 on period related products over her lifetime.* This huge figure isn’t all made up just of sanitary wear but pain killers, chocolates, new underwear.    I’d rather give you a comparison for just sanitary protection so you can compare the cost of disposable pads v reusable pads. 

How Much Does The Average Monthly Disposable Period Products Cost?

The Charity Bloody Good Period provides menstrual products to those that can't afford them. They estimate that a lifetime's menstrual products cost £4800 or on average £11pm spent on pads. tampons, liners and cups. Some people are lucky enough to only have a few days but some suffer with terrible heavy, long periods so this average takes this into account.  I've however based my calculation on a slightly lower amount decided by Channel 4 Fact Check of £10 per period**

Now some of you might look at this figure and still think it seems high, but some of you will look at it and think it’s too low. Some people might only need one box of tampons for a whole period but others will need to use multiple products and change them regularly. Let’s not also forget those who use liners daily. It could be argued that this isn’t part of your period. However without the female reproductive system you wouldn’t need to use liners at all. It’s another cost incurred by those who experience periods. 

The amount of £10 per period is an average of all people using disposable menstrual products. If like many of us your period increases your craving for chocolate then you may spend much more but we are following Channel 4 Fact Check’s figures and only including essential pads, tampons etc. 

£10pm x 450 periods =  £4500 just on sanitary protection!!! 

How Much Do Reusable Cloth Pads Cost?
Your cloth pads will last on average last 4-5 years.  I’ve broken the cost analysis down further so you can compare costs based on the estimated life span of your cloth pads.***

Regular reusable pad average cost £6.66ea x10 pads £66.60
Night time reusable pad average cost £8.40ea x5 pads £42.00
Reusable Pad total = £108.60

Disposable pads £10pm x 12months x5 years = £600

Swapping to cloth pads over 5 years will save you £491!!
For more details comparing the two types of pads read our comparison article Disposable V Cloth Menstural Pads.

How Much Do Menstual Cups Cost?
Menstrual Cups cost even less than reusable pads as you normally only need 1 cup.  Our cheapest cup is the FleurCup which at the time of writing costs £13.50. The Mooncup which is the original British Cup costs £20.95. So you'll see there is a fair price variation. On average menstrual cups last 10 years so they offer a HUGE potential saving compared to disposable pads and even cloth pads.  Read our article for more details on How Long Does A Menstrual Cup Last.

The average cost of a menstrual cup is £23.
Menstrual cup for 10 years £23 (19p per period)
Disposable Pads £10pm x 12 months x10 years = £1200
Swapping to a Menstrual cup will save you an astounding £1177 over 10 years!!

How Much Do Period Pants Cost?
On average you will need around 5-7 pairs of period underwear for your period, the price range can vary greatly (similar to all clothing). We have used a midrange priced period underwear and calculated needing 6 pairs of period pants. On average period underwear is expected to last 2-3 years. Even based on this lower figure you can halve the cost of menstrual protection by using period pants.

6 pairs of underwear £103
Disposable Pads £10pm x 12 months x 3 years = £360
Swapping to period pants will save you £257 over 3 years

Period Poverty

I have had people think that even £10 a month is a high monthly spend.  The same as the Channel 4 Fact Check I can find in Tesco a pack of 18 Super Tampons for £1.90, 14 Lil Lets Super Plus Extra for £1.75 and a Box of Tesco's own brand tampons for £0.95  So even if someone used 2 or 3 boxes they could still have their period under £5 per month if they didn't use any liners for the rest of the month.  Running these figures their spend is below:

Disposable Pads £5pm x 12months x5 years =£300

As you can see even at the £5 per month cost over 5 years reusable cloth pads will still save you £189  Personally my pads are over 5 years old and still going strong so this is a conservative saving, read our article "How Long Do Cloth Pads Last" for more details.  There are also cheaper brands of reusable pads than the examples I've used but they can also be bought second hand on Facebook Selling groups so those on a tight budget could make even greater savings there.  Of course this is all very well but unless you can afford to buy cloth pads upfront it can be hard to realise these savings.  You could slowly build up your supply and wash more frequently, buy second hand where possible and for new products there are options such as Klarna and Paypal that allow you to spread the cost of your purchase over a few months which can help. We offer Klarna and Paypal at The Period Lady.  If you need help on finding the right items to match your budget please don't hesitate to contact us and we'd love to help you.

* Source 1
** Source 2
*** The example is based on average regular and night pads we stock in Aug 2021.