Do period pants smell?
18 August 2022
No, period pants don't smell. When cared for following washing guidelines they don't retain any odour. As with all blood, there may be a metallic smell you notice when you go to the toilet but no different to a menstrual cup, pad or tampon.
There won't be anything out of the ordinary and nothing anyone could smell for you to feel self conscious about. If you are smelling something stronger and unpleasant this won't be your vagina or pants but bacteria, and a tweak in your washable pant routine will be needed.
That smell you sometimes get in public toilets isn't period blood smell, it's bacteria and to be avoided. This is easy in reusable period pants.
There are a few reasons why your period pants might smell, all are easily corrected by following our care guidance.
If your period underwear smell:
- When wearing - all bodily fluids on period products, if left sitting for too long, will start to smell. Your pants could have been worn for too long or not changed frequently enough for your flow. This may lead to a fishy smell.
- Before washing - this may be because the period pants have not been rinsed enough, have been left soaking too long, or have been allowed to dry without rinsing. This may lead to a musty smell.
- After washing - this may be because the menstrual pants have not been dried quickly enough, not agitated sufficiently in the wash, not rinsed enough, or fabric softener is trapping blood inside. This will be a damp smell.
- After storing - this can happen if period pants are put away damp, not rinsed or washed for long enough leaving blood inside. This may lead to a mouldy smell.
To stop period pants smelling, following these steps will keep you feeling and smelling fresh and protect the fabric in your period panties:
Wearing period pants means you should change in line with your flow, and opt for pants that match your flow rate.
There are pants available that range from a light flow thong to a heavy flow high waisted brief which will hold several tampons worth of blood.
If you have light flow it is a good idea to start the day in a fresh pair of pants, then change in the evening and again for bed.
The pants may be absorbent enough to be worn for 12hrs but to avoid smells change often. Wipe your vulva clean when you change your pants, this can be done with a wet cheeky wipe.
You don't need to hand wash a pair of period pants but you do need to rinse in cold water til the water runs clear so that most of the menstrual blood is not left sitting on the pants.
This will stop smells but will also make the fabrics in your pants last longer and help to avoid any staining or bleaching your gusset.
If you don't wish to rinse your period pants, you can wet pail them in a storage container or mini strucket with water and tea tree oil, salt, stain remover, or your normal detergent.
Alternatively after rinsing dry pail in a wetbag / storage container with no water. If you need to change out and about just pop your used pants into a wetbag to deal with at home.
Period pants get cleaned most effectively in the washing machine, no need to hand wash. Add the correct dose of detergent, ideally bio powder and stick to cool washing at 30 degrees. Hot water can set the proteins in the blood as a stain.
Avoid fabric softener as this builds up a coating on the pants and stops them absorbing and can also trap moisture inside causing smells. Avoid bleach as this can cause fabric to break down. Oxy stain removers are fine to use.
Period pants are best hung to dry because they contain several absorbent layers. This can be outside on the washing line in the summer, or inside on a pegged hanger or clothes airier.
Top tip: Turn your period undies inside out for faster drying
Lying them flat on a surface takes longer to dry so can lead to mustiness. Avoid heated airers, radiators and tumble dryers as it can damage the delicate waterproof layer.
Make sure the period pants are fully dry before storing, they are best in an airy basket or drawer and not locked away without air flow.
No, people can't smell your period. Menstrual periods should only smell if you have irritation or an infection or haven't cleaned your vulva regularly.
Period pants don't cause infections - they cause LESS irritation than wearing plastic, sweaty disposables and therefore lead to less discomfort. As they are breathable you are less likely to get chafing and rashes which could lead to infections and smells.
When to worry: if you are getting smells in disposable and reusables alike or change in your vaginal discharge you may need to talk to your doctor.
Some illnesses can cause your vulva to smell fishy (such as bacterial vaginosis) and are normally accompanied by burning or itching.
Bestselling Period Pants:
We hope you've enjoyed our Cheeky guide on whether period pants smell and that if you haven't tried a pair yet, you feel more confident to. If you enjoyed this, we think you would like these blogs on -
or have a browse of all our blogs!
We are so sure that you will love our period pants and pads that if you aren't 100% happy with your pants, we'll refund you in full.
As always, if you're unsure of what you need to make the switch to leak proof period pants, please do drop the team a line or use the online chat function. The team all use the products themselves and just LOVE to help people make the switch, nothing is TMI and we all love to overshare based on our own experiences...
About the Author: Kirstin Scriven is part of the Customer Experience team at Cheeky Wipes, which since 2008 has been selling the original reusable wipes kit. She is mum to 3 and loves the forest, the sea and the hills!
Along with the rest of our crack team, she spends most days talking about poo, pee and periods and loves a chance to overshare. The business was recognised with a Queens Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development in 2021, celebrating their hard work over the last 13 years.