Request for ideas: Practical strategies for drying reusable menstrual materials in privacy scarce contexts and/or during the rainy season?

  • maggieschmitt
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Request for ideas: Practical strategies for drying reusable menstrual materials in privacy scarce contexts and/or during the rainy season?

Hello all,

We're looking for any practical ideas or strategies that people may have to facilitate the quick and private drying of reusable menstrual materials in challenging settings. We'd love any ideas or thoughts related to:

1. Drying during the rainy season, when putting menstrual materials outside to dry is it not possible?
2. Drying in privacy scarce/overcrowded settings (like displacement camps, informal settlements, multi-family households) where drying out the open (and even indoors) is a challenge?
3. Does anyone have any tips for helping reduce the odor that sometimes is found when drying reusable pads? For example we've heard that drops of vinegar can help.

We'd love to hear about any new ideas or case studies people have found related to the discreet drying of reusable menstrual products. Thanks in advance!

Best,
Maggie (on behalf of Columbia University's MHM team)

Columbia University
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  • muench
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Re: Request for ideas: Practical strategies for drying reusable menstrual materials in privacy scarce contexts and/or during the rainy season?

Maggie's practical question deserves more attention and some answers (I hope), so I am putting this thread back to the top. Who has experiences with this: drying reusable menstrual materials in privacy scarce contexts and/or during the rainy season? I wonder if women who use wood fired stoves try to hang menstrual materials near there for faster drying?

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  • KatieAllen54
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Re: Request for ideas: Practical strategies for drying reusable menstrual materials in privacy scarce contexts and/or during the rainy season?

I was researching this for a Uni project and didn't find much innovation in this area. Never been able to try it in practice, but always wondered about a clothes mangle/wringer? Cloths could be dried to a reasonable extent very quickly rather than being left unattended to dry (particularly when there are fears surrounding leaving them).

Not sure how effectively they remove moisture, but they must be reasonable if they've been used for a few hundred years!

Katie Allen
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  • torbenholmlarsen
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Re: Request for ideas: Practical strategies for drying reusable menstrual materials in privacy scarce contexts and/or during the rainy season?

Hi Maggie,

I actually do have some ideas in relation to drying of reusable pads.

I think I shared our study from Myanmar with Safepad with you earlier.* The drying time was evaluated in this study both during the dry season and the rain season. The drying time was evaluated to be 1 – 1.5 hours and 2 – 3 hours respectively. I am sending it to you in a separate mail, just to make sure.

Safepad doesn’t need sunlight during the drying, and since it is fast drying and antimicrobial and antifungal, it will not create mould if it is dried “in disguise”. I have been thinking about developing a special drying bag with holes that could allow women to dry their pads without everybody having to watch it.

We have not done any studies on the odour connected with drying the Safepads, but I have the idea that it might be a smaller problem for Safepad than for other reusable pads due to the antimicrobial treatment.

Best regards
Torben


* See this thread: forum.susana.org/24-menstrual-hygiene-ma...ncies?start=12#26799 (added by moderator)
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  • raogk
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Re: Reply: Request for ideas: Practical strategies for drying reusable menstrual materials in privacy scarce contexts and/or during the rainy season?

Dear Torben

It is very informative to know about reusable antimicrobial and antifungal pads which are very useful in developing countries like India where adolescent girls and women can not afford costly sanitary napkins from the market.

What is the cost of it? How many times they can be reused?

If you can supply them to India, Pl. come back to me.

Warm regards G. Kondala Rao
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Re: Reply: Request for ideas: Practical strategies for drying reusable menstrual materials in privacy scarce contexts and/or during the rainy season?

Hi Kondala,
Torben wrote about Safepad in another thread previously, see here: forum.susana.org/24-menstrual-hygiene-ma...ncies?start=12#26799

He also posted about a related product of his here: forum.susana.org/23-hygiene-and-hand-was...ater-for-handwashing
("Supertowel - a substituate for soap and running water for handwashing").

It seems to be a very intriguing and interesting material!

Elisabeth

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  • torbenholmlarsen
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Re: Reply: Request for ideas: Practical strategies for drying reusable menstrual materials in privacy scarce contexts and/or during the rainy season?

Hi Kondala,

Thank you for your message. Yes we can definitely supply the Safepad in India, it is actually being manufactured there.

If care instructions are followed the Safepad can be washed at least 100 times. The cost is depending on quantities but lies in the region of 3 - 4 USD for a pack of 4 pads.

If you are interested, I can put you in contact with my indian staff. Please send me a mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Best regards
Torben
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  • muench
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Re: Reply: Request for ideas: Practical strategies for drying reusable menstrual materials in privacy scarce contexts and/or during the rainy season?

Hi Maggie,
I wonder if anyone has thought of the centrifuge concept for drying these materials. I have a little device in my kitchen that is hand-operated and is for drying lettuce leaves quickly. Actually on Wikipedia it's called "salad spinner":
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salad_spinner



Perhaps the wet rags could be put in there and spun around for a minute or so. (or maybe they would be too heavy for this device)

What else has your study turned up so far?

Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Reply: Request for ideas: Practical strategies for drying reusable menstrual materials in privacy scarce contexts and/or during the rainy season?

Maybe a bicycle driven vacuum pump for vacuum drying would work?

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_drying

Where pressurized water is available, a water flow driven vacuum pump might also work.

A typical drying vacuum drying container used in a lab looks like this: www.amazon.com/Desiccator-Laboratory-Des...torage/dp/B078GN7W8M

Edit: these are usually partially filled with hygroscopic beads, so even if you cut the vacuum it will continue to adsorb moisture. These beads can then be regenerated in a larger vacuum or heat dryer seperatly. But it is usually a relatively slow process and direct vaccum drying might be the more feasible option.

Edit2: probably cheaper to look for similar kitchen equippment for vacuum storage (quick google result):
nutrichefkitchen.com/products/pkvscn1l
www.alibaba.com/product-detail/keep-food...for_60113631284.html
However the vaccum pumps would likely need to be changed as these one are probably only good for evacuating the air, not continous removal of the evaporating water steam.

Microbiologist & emergency WASH specialist
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