Charcoal Menstrual Pads Can Neutralize Odor — Without Synthetic Fragrance


May 24 2023, Published 11:58 a.m. ET

Three reusable menstrual pads on a pink background
Source: iStock

Whether you're heading to the beach, the spa, or playing sports, it can be frustrating to have to deal with your period — but you don't need to ditch your favorite white linen pants for a week, as long as you've got the right amount of coverage, leakage protection, and odor absorption.

So, have you heard about charcoal pads for periods? Here's what you should know before you head to the drugstore.

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What are charcoal pads for periods?

Unlike traditional pads, charcoal pads are ones that have plant-based charcoal in them to absorb and neutralize odors associated with menstrual flow.

The reusable pads can be washed and used again, making them a great choice for health- and eco-conscious consumers who'd like to reduce waste and save money.

According to a 2020 study conducted by Lieberman Research Worldwide Inc. on behalf of U by Kotex, "64 percent of women have experienced concerns about odor while on their period," Mindy Langelin, Senior Brand Manager for Kotex, tells Green Matters exclusively via email.

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"Some brands have tried to address these concerns by adding fragrance to the products in order to mask odor,” Langelin continues. However, a more natural alternative to putting synthetic fragrance in such a sensitive area is using charcoal, instead.

“So, we designed a pad with plant-based charcoal incorporated into the inner layer to safely neutralize odor,” Langelin tells us. In May 2023, Kotex rolled out its first line of charcoal pads. The pads are disposable, and made with 100 percent plant-based charcoal to naturally stop odor.

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Though we always recommend reusable menstrual products over single-use ones, since reusable items are more environmentally sustainable (and can save you money, too), it's notable that a brand as large as Kotex is incorporating more non-toxic elements such as charcoal into its products. That said, note that Kotex is not cruelty-free, and is owned by giant corporation Kimberly-Clark.

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A hand holds a disposable charcoal Kotex pad
Source: Courtesy of Kotex
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What are the benefits of reusable charcoal pads?

So, why should you choose reusable charcoal pads over traditional disposable menstrual pads? Disposable pads are expensive, and they're typically made from plastic, meaning they'll end up in landfills, where they can have devastating effects on the environment and animals. Plus, they're just not comfortable.

Luckily, there are many benefits of choosing reusable charcoal pads. For instance, they can:

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  • Help neutralize odors: Since charcoal is a powerful odor neutralizer, it helps absorb the odor instead of masking it.
  • Safe on the skin: Plant-based charcoal is soft to touch and safe on the skin.
  • No harsh chemicals: Charcoal pads are typically free of fragrances, pesticides, and other chlorines so users don't have to worry about skin irritants or exposure concerns.
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  • Environmentally-friendly: If you choose a reusable charcoal pad, it's an eco-friendlier option to traditional pads.
  • Comfortable: Many users find that reusable pads are softer and more breathable against the skin.
  • Less expensive: Reusable pads are more cost effective since you'll use them over and over again.
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The best reusable echarcoal pads to try:

Here are a few reusable charcoal pads on the market today that are highly rated and positively reviewed.

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Simfamily Reusable Bamboo Charcoal Menstrual Pads Set

The Simfamily Bamboo Charcoal Menstrual Pads Set is reusable, waterproof, and made of soft bamboo charcoal. Each package includes five heavy flow/overnight pads in a variety of colors and designs, and a mini wet bag for storage. These highly rated, machine-washable pads are easy to use, affordable, and attractive too.

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Miss C2C Reusable Bamboo Charcoal Pads Set

This highly rated, seven-piece Miss C2C Reusable Bamboo Charcoal Pads set is available in a variety colors and designs. Each package comes with six menstrual pads and one mini wet bag, and features a waterproof top layer, an absorbent microfiber middle layer and a bamboo charcoal inner layer.

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Wegreeco Reusable Bamboo Charcoal Pads Set

The Wegreeco Reusable Bamboo Charcoal Pads come in a seven-pack and is available in sizes small through extra-large. Boasting a 4.4-star Amazon rating, these reusable charcoal pads are available in over a dozen colors and designs. Featuring two snaps for a more secure fit, these leak-free, machine washable pads come with a storage bag.

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Asenappy Reusable Bamboo Charcoal Pads Set

The Asenappy Reusable Bamboo Charcoal Pads Set is leak-proof, highly absorbable and very comfortable. Featuring a bamboo charcoal layer, plus two layers of super absorbent microfiber, these portable, eco-friendly pads snap into place on your underwear. With a 4.4-star rating, these colorful charcoal pads are super soft, feature snaps for a stay-put grip, and they're affordable, and hand-washable.

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