x-posted to other groups, just fyi
Since the price of cotton and other materials are on the rise, (and certain products being pulled from the shelves because the companies decided not to make them anymore), Ive been looking into other alternatives to reusable feminine products, or alternatives.
I have designed patterns for a reusable tampon. Before anyone says....'Ew so unsanitary', think about your tampons in your box that are disposable, just cause it has pretty wrappings with a cardboard or plastic applicator (if any) and is made from white fabric and wadding (of gods know what type of material), there's no guarentee that it is sterile (and i dont think it even says that on the box). Besides, lots of unsanitized things go up there anyways (vibrators, penis, fingers, lube, soap, and other things people do or use) and no one gets sick from those things. I realize the risk of TSS is still there, but from what I have been reading, TSS is also more likely caused by rayon/polyester/otherfiber combinations as well as absorbancy. The patterns I have below are for 100% cotton. I used a standard pre-bleached brand, but you can go out and get cotton or hemp that is either organic or unbleached or both.
Washing and sanitizing ideas are below the pattern, as well as how to use them.
I will explain how I make the crocheted one as best as I can (not very comfortable with crochet terminology yet). These are also different from those you will see on the interwebs:
These both cover the higher absorbancy needs. You can make them smaller, but it might be a bit tricky shoving the wadding into the cover.
100% cotton 4 ply (bernat)
#1 us needles dpns (2.25mm)
Cast on 12 sts, leave a long tail, start rounds, knit very tight for 18 rounds, cast off, leave a long tail at castoff and close the top like you would the top of a knit in the round hat. this is a really tight knit.
cast on 13 sts
Garter stitch 12 rows, cast off, leave long tail
Chain stitch 5 stitches, slip loop through a stitch on casing from the inside edge of casing
single chain stitch for 5 stitches (to secure wadding to casing), bind and tye off
Roll the wadding up and shove’er into the casing.
Chain stitch the long tail on the casing as long as you need for a tug string.
100% cotton (bernat) dk weight
A hook thats somewhere between a D (3.25mm) and E (3.5mm)
for the casing, I single crochet (i think its single crochet) in the round, increasing till it is as big as the diameter of my middle finger (and I got skinny fingers, probably about the diameter of a nickel or about 3/4 inches (2-2.5cm).
Then single crochet till its about as long as 5.5cm (about 2 inches), then chain stitch a pull string as long as needed.
For the wadding, I single crocheted a piece that is about 2 inches x 1.5 inches, then attached via the same as the knitted instructions above. then roll up the wadding and cram it into the casing.
I use the 5 chain attachment as a spot to use to insert the tampon. It also makes it for easier cleaning.
I hope no one gets confused. If you do, Im really, really sorry, and hopefully someone who is better at patterns for crochet can help out.
Washing and use instructions
I designed these to be easier to clean than the pre-stuffed ones you can get on etsy. The wadding comes out for easier cleaning.
Your washing methods or sanitizing methods may be different, but this is what Ive done so far...
Before using them after I first knit them up, is I boiled them in water on the stove for about 10 mins, and added vinegar and a few drops of tea tree oil (antifungal and antiseptic). I hung them up in my bathroom to dry. To use them, roll up the wadding and shove it into the casing. Use just your finger to insert them. They are a tad wider than the high absorbancy OB tampons (what i was basing them off of for size), and I use the casing/wadding attachment strip as a spot to press with my finger to insert it.
So you get no applicators going to the dumpster, and no tampons being thrown out either.
To hold you out till the next wash cycle, place your used tampons in a bucket with soapy water. the longer it soaks, the easier the stains will come out.
wring them out really well, and either :
...wash them by hand (I did that for the first time and got almost all the stains out) by using a combination of soap, vinegar and tea tree oil (be careful cause tea tree oil will slowly degrade plastic buckets so if you use it rinse your bucket really really well). For the rinse, I used the hottest water i could get out of the tap, rinsed them well by hand, put them in my bucket and added vinegar as a softener. I then just hung them up to dry.
...or toss them in the wash with your regular load of washables.
I suggest avoiding using bleach cause it will reduce the lifespan of your tampons, but if you really need to, just make sure you rinse them out really really well.
Other options for cleaning could also include oxyclean, hydrogen peroxide, eucyliptus oil (works for alot of things including glass....just rince really well or you will get a tiger balm effect on your lady parts...it wont hurt ya but it feels really really weird...dont ask how I know this.)
If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. I just started using them myself, and so far I have had no problems at all. Keep in mind I have been doing some reading up on the tampon side of things, and have other alternatives up my sleeve if you cant/dont know how to knit or crochet, or if you want links on how to make washable pads
I really like this idea. I already use reusable pads, but I've been looking for a better tampon solution. The problem is that I don't sew - at all. I didn't know people made reusable tampons. I'll have to look around etsy.
In addition to what you had mentioned there is also the issue of all the pesticides used on the cotton that goes into tampons. No thank you.
I think it is really flipping cool you made your own tampons. If I still used tampons I probably would have gone for the reusable sea sponges. They are easily sterilized and cost like a nickle a piece.
I made the switch this year to reusable pads made from organic bamboo velour. I've found them to be oodles more comfortable and clean than disposables, plus with my personal beliefs about what others could do with pieces of me, I like that my blood doesn't go out with the garbage. In the end they are also way more cost effective. I totaled up what I spend in one year on pads, and spent about half that on a collection of reusable that will last at least five. Definitely a win.