How to Dispose of Sanitary Pads at Home?

Sanitary pads are a type of menstrual hygiene product that unlike tampons or menstrual cups are worn externally. These pads are mainly worn in developing regions of the world where safe and proper disposal often becomes an issue. 

There are many stigmas and taboos surrounding menstrual health in women in many developing regions that persist to this day. These stigmas bar women from learning about proper menstrual hygiene and seeking out proper information about the disposal of menstrual waste. Many women in South Asia prefer to bury their sanitary pads in their backyards instead of disposing of them properly. 

This article is going to explain how to dispose of sanitary napkins the right way at home, and what problems improper disposal can cause. 

How to Dispose of Sanitary Pads at Home?

Used sanitary pads should be wrapped in tissue paper and thrown in a bin that’s kept inside the toilet. Many companies individually wrap the sanitary napkins, these wrappers can be used instead of tissues to wrap the used pads. Once the pad is securely wrapped, it should be thrown into the trash bin. 

It is very important to keep a trash bin in every toilet, this makes disposal much easier for the women and girls, and safer and more hygienic as well. Wastes generated in the toilet should never be taken out of the toilet to be thrown in with the household waste. This increases the chances of cross-contamination and can cause potential diseases. This trash needs to be cleared out regularly to ensure proper cleanliness. 

In countries like India, all trash ends up in the same dumpsite where workers sift and sort through the trash with bare hands and no protective clothing. This is why the Indian government recently urged women to draw a red dot on top of the wrapped pad so workers would know what it is. Handling waste such as sanitary pads can be very risky since it can cause all kinds of infectious diseases. 

In some Indian households, there are small-scale incinerators that burn the pads. These incinerators are available in India, so if you are interested, you can check them out. 

For the most part in developed countries, household waste mostly ends up in incinerators, the problem arises when we are talking about developing worlds. The most waste ends up open and exposed in landfills. For this reason, it is very important to wrap the pad properly before disposal. 

Despite the necessity of a trash bin in the toilet, most South Asian households do not contain any whatsoever. Women are instead required to throw the pads out into regular trash, flush them down the toilet, or in some cases, bury them into the soil in their backyards. Improper disposal such as this example can cause a myriad of issues. We will discuss these next. 

Problems with improperly disposing of sanitary pads:

Sanitary pads can be a health hazard if disposed of incorrectly. These pads are often made of non-biodegradable materials. This means, when they are buried in the backyard, they will not decompose. 

Moreover, used pads are a breeding ground for many pathogenic bacteria, which means when they are thrown out improperly, and are being handled by workers who do not wear gloves, the worker’s health is at risk of catching an infection. 

A very common mistake women make in both developed and developing countries is they try to flush the pads down the toilet. This is an extremely bad idea. These pads do not disintegrate like toilet paper, instead, they expand in size by absorbing water. When you flush these pads down the drain, they can clog your pipes completely resulting in you paying a hefty plumbing bill to get those pipes cleared out. 

Some women feel the need to wash their sanitary pads before they throw them out. This should not be done. These pads then will take a long time to dry, and if they are thrown into the incinerator while wet, they will not burn properly and cause toxic gasses like dioxins to be released. 

Are sanitary pads compostable? 

Most sanitary pads, approximately 90% available in the market, are made from plastics, meaning they are not biodegradable or compostable. However, there are a handful of companies that make fully biodegradable pads. These pads can be composted. 

Make sure you cut the pads up into smaller pieces before you put them in the composting bin. You can check out how to compost your 100% natural pads from here.

Conclusion: 

There are many stigmas and taboos surrounding menstrual health in women in many developing regions that persist to this day. These stigmas bar women from learning about proper menstrual hygiene and seeking out proper information about the disposal of menstrual waste. Many women in South Asia prefer to bury their sanitary pads in their backyards instead of disposing of them properly. 

This article explains how to dispose of sanitary napkins the right way at home, and what problems improper disposal can cause. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): ​​How to Dispose of Sanitary Pad at Home

How to dispose of sanitary pads at home? 

Simply wrap the pad in the thin packaging it came in or some toilet paper, and throw it into the bin. 

Should I flush my pad down the toilet?

You should flush anything other than toilet paper down the drain, this will cause the toilet to clog. 

Are sanitary pads biodegradable? 

About 90% of sanitary pads contain plastic and cannot be degraded. However, companies are making sustainable pads that are 100% made from natural materials, and are biodegradable. 

Should I compost the used pad? 

Only if the packaging says 100% biodegradable. 

How long do biodegradable pads take to break down?

Approximately 12 months. Make sure you do not wrap them in plastic before disposal. Plastic would prevent it from degrading. 

Can I burn my used pads?  

Some places in India sell home incinerators that burn used pads. This is a safe way to dispose of used pads. Do keep in mind these pads should not be washed before incineration. Wet pads are often improperly burnt allowing toxic gasses to escape. 

References: 

  1. How to dispose of a used sanitary pad or a tampon?. (2022). Retrieved 23 January 2022, from https://www.menstrupedia.com/articles/girls/sanitary-dispose
  2. How to Dispose of Sanitary Pads. (2022). Retrieved 23 January 2022, from https://www.always.co.uk/en-gb/tips-and-advice-for-girls-and-parents/my-period/how-to-dispose-sanitary-pads/
  3. How to Dispose of Sanitary Pads: 10 Steps (with Pictures). (2022). Retrieved 23 January 2022, from https://www.wikihow.com/Dispose-of-Sanitary-Pads
  4. Sanitary Napkins & the Environmental impact -Disposal of sanitary napkins. (2022). Retrieved 23 January 2022, from https://saraldesigns.in/sanitary-napkins-and-its-environmental-impact-part-1/
  5. Kaur, R., Kaur, K., & Kaur, R. (2018). Menstrual Hygiene, Management, and Waste Disposal: Practices and Challenges Faced by Girls/Women of Developing Countries. Journal Of Environmental And Public Health, 2018, 1-9. DOI: 10.1155/2018/1730964
  6. Ladies, be careful when you throw away the sanitary napkin. (2022). Retrieved 23 January 2022, from https://www.hindustantimes.com/health-and-fitness/ladies-be-careful-when-you-throw-away-the-sanitary-napkin/story-YnbqET6IzriWOy1Y8rFS8N.html
  7. How to dispose of sanitary napkins. (2022). Retrieved 23 January 2022, from https://imbuenatural.com/blogs/blog/how-to-dispose-of-sanitary-napkins
  8. Jahan, F., Nuruzzaman, M., Sultana, F. et al. Piloting an acceptable and feasible menstrual hygiene products disposal system in urban and rural schools in Bangladesh. BMC Public Health 20, 1366 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-09413-x
  9. Safe, Dignified and Inclusive Menstrual Waste Disposal in Public Schools. (2022). Retrieved 23 January 2022, from https://www.givingway.com/project/ebdd
  10. Sanitary Bins FAQ: Everything You Need to Know – VR Sani Co. (2022). Retrieved 23 January 2022, from https://www.vrsani-co.co.uk/sanitary-bins-faq-everything-need-know/


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