Incontinence Pants vs. Pads - All You Need to Know

17 Comments12 October 2022

Incontinence affects both men and women, however it impacts twice as many women as men. This could be due to pregnancy, childbirth or menopause though it doesn't only affect women after having children. The unpredictability of stress urinary incontinence or overflow incontinence leads women to need some form of protection all the time to avoid feeling self conscious and anxious.

Around half of our Pee and Period questionnaire responses tick the box for incontinence advice too - it is very widespread and nothing to be embarrassed about, you are not alone!

In general, incontinence pants are more suited for infrequent occasional leaks, for exercise and to wear under tightly fitting clothes and dresses, whereas incontinence pads are more suited if you have bladder leaks multiple times a day, struggle with mobility or are out and about a lot and it would be tricky to do a full pants change in a toilet cubicle. 


Using disposable incontinence products can prove expensive, especially if worn 'just incase' leading to wasting pads and pants without a bladder leak occurring. Prolonged use of single use plastic pads and pants can cause irritation, as well as adding to our ever increasing landfill waste issues.

Fortunately there are reliable reusable pads and washable incontinence pants that can be used daily, making them eco friendly and comfortable. In this article we'll cover the following to help you decide what will work best for you: 

Why might you need incontinence pants and pads?

You might need incontinence pants and pads if you suffer from any type of incontinence, including stress incontinence, weakened pelvic floor after childbirth, or urge incontinence.

Every day use of weakened pelvic floor muscles such as exercising, laughing, or sneezing can cause you to leak urine. This stress incontinence is the most common form of bladder weakness.

Some people find they are overcome by a sudden urgent need to urinate and are rushing to the bathroom dozens of times a day. It can happen unexpectedly while you are sleeping, while you are drinking, or if you hear water running. This is urge incontinence and is more common as you get older.

Seeing a pelvic floor physio can really help treat urge incontinence for some people and doing kegel exercises with weights like Secret Whispers allows you to rebuild strength and tone in your pelvic floor which you lose as you age or after childbirth. We have a fantastic community on facebook too!

Incontinence can affect men and children too, we have pants for this too.



How can washable incontinence pants and pads help?

Washable incontinence pads and pants can help give people with an overactive bladder and bladder problems their freedom and peace of mind back.

Because they are reusable products, they are easy to wash and dry, which means you have a constant supply in the house. However they're also easy to use out and about, contain odours, keep you feeling dry and stop you leaking onto clothes.

They're much better than disposable products because they'll also save you money, help reduce your carbon footprint and help reduce landfill! I could keep going! You can use incontinence underwear for periods too!

"I have spent so much money over the last year trying to find pants that would help me with incontinence, but nothing was quite good enough, even when I ordered from the States. So I was so pleased when I read that the pants you were offering had complete protection from the front to the back as most pants don't do that. I am really happy that the ones I bought offer such good protection." Via Trustpilot



What’s the difference between incontinence pads & pants?

The difference between reusable incontinence pads and pants are pads popper into normal underwear just like disposable pads stick in and the pants you wear just like normal underwear! However they don't have the side effects of chafing and potential irritation which disposable pads can create.

Reusable incontinence panties and pads are quite similar in their fabrics and protective layers. They combine a stay dry top layer next to your body with an absorbent core, followed by a waterproof layer to keep you leakfree.

Many factors covered below influence which will suit different individuals.Whether you opt for pants, pads or a combination of both you can be reassured that you won't run out, have natural fibres next to your skin and are cutting down on single use plastic.

They come in a wide range of sizes from panty liners at just 19cm long, to 33cm extra long pads.

Absorbency levels

Our pants come in varying levels of absorbency. From light flow thongs right up to bamboo lined shorts for heavy flow. All of our pee panties can be used for periods as well.

If you have infrequent little leaks any and all of our pants will suit you, with 18 different styles they are incredibly versatile. You can choose the option that best matches your everyday favourites.

If you have heavier more frequent leaks we have more absorbent heavy flow incontinence pants that will keep you feeling dry. With protection beyond the gusset from the front waistband to the back waistband you will not need to worry about leaks making their way over the protective area. We recommend changing soon after incontinence occurs.

Our pads are specifically designed for incontinence by a specialist, Penny Broderick. They come in varying sizes to suit your needs and increase in absorbency over the sizes. You can choose superlight 19cm liners if you have infrequent small leaks, right up to 33cm pads which have great coverage if you need more to the front or back, great if your leaks are overnight or if you sit down alot.

A brushed cotton top keeps you dry and traps the moisture in the pad against a waterproof PUL backing. If you are out for the day and have a leak, we recommend changing as soon as possible and just pop the used pad in a wet bag to deal with when you get home.


Pants V Pads : Opt for pants if you have infrequent small leaks, or need heavy protection beyond the gusset area, or have a dress you want to have clean lines in. Opt for pads if you have frequent little leaks and need to change regularly through the day, or if you would find stepping in and out of pants hardwork, or if you are out and about and want to be able to change easily.


Both the washable pants and pads can be worn all day for those with occasional, infrequent incontinence, for those who leak little and often or larger quantities of urine be sure to wear high enough absorbency - all our pants and pads will struggle to manage a flood from a full bladder . All absorbent fabrics will become more absorbent after three or four washes so wear them around the house at first. 

We expect our reusable pads and pants to be as durable as your everyday underwear, so they should last a good few years. They will last longest if they are cold rinsed, washed at 30 degrees avoiding fabric softener, are kept away from heat so no radiators, tumble dryers or heated airers.

Our washable pads are impregnated with charcoal to keep odours at bay.

Pants vs Pads - For pants opt for heavy absorbency in Feeling Fearless or Feeling Cosy bamboo and for pads opt for our large 33cm Feeling Fearless pads



Our pants are great for exercising in, no uncomfortable poppers or sticky backing to get in the way especially when horse riding or biking.

Our pads are really useful if you have limited mobility or long term illness that makes getting to the toilet in a hurry hard. With an extra loop for easy removal our single popper pads can be undone easily. 

Pants V Pads : Opt for pants if you don't want any extra bulk or poppers in the gusset area whilst working out or walking, opt for pads if stepping in and out of pants when you need a change would be troublesome.


Nobody want a VPL to ruin their sleek lines in evening wear or gym leggings. We have seam free, thong and sporty styles of pants.

Our incontinence pads are super thin and very absorbent and none show from the outside. By wearing the lowest absorbency needed you can avoid bulkiness that would make you worry about them showing through your clothes.

Pants V Pads : Opt for pants with no VPL Feeling SleekFeeling Limitless (very low absorbency) or Feeling Sporty heavy for best lines or opt for pads that are super light or light liners - thinner and lower in absorbency.

"I ordered 3 x Full Brief Period Underwear - Feeling Comfy for my mum, and 3 x Feeling Cosy - Bamboo Period Shorts for myself. My mum has used hers for a month for overnight incontinence with no problems or leaks. That design is very affordable and is fantastic value. She loves that they look almost identical to underwear she already owns, so these don't make her “feel old”." Via Trustpilot

Browse Reusable Incontinence Pads & pants

The best way to manage incontinence - a combination of pants and pads

You may find that you want to have a few pairs of pants and a few pants handy. If you are going out for the day and think you may have a couple of bladder leaks that require changing out and about, pop a pad into a pair of incontinence pants.

When you use the toilet, switch out the pad for another one if you are out for longer, or carry on in just the pants. We have discreet mini wetbags that won't look out of place in your handbag and will contain any smells til you can get home to rinse.

We hope you've enjoyed our blog on Incontinence Pants vs. Pads and that if you haven't tried a pad or a pair of pants yet, you feel more confident to. We are so sure that you will love our pants and pads that we have created a 90 day trial scheme for them, so if they don't work for you, we'll refund you in full.

If you enjoyed this, we think you would like this blogs on 'Can you use incontinence underwear for periods?' or have a browse of all our blogs!




As always, if you're unsure of what you need to make the switch, please do drop the team a line or use the online chat function. The team all use the products themselves and just LOVE to chat pee poo and periods, all day long, 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.



Ann Marie Devers
25 July 2023  |  19:32

Traveling through Ireland and Scotland in Aug. Have urinary incontinence small to moderate usually. However, if I am unable to use a bathroom or have to wait there may be a larger amount.
Since I will be flying and driving long distances I am concerned about my bladder getting to filled.
What product wold be best?

03 August 2023  |  14:11

Hi Ann, Thank you for your comment, our products are great for mild to moderate leaks - our Feeling Fearless bamboo pants and fearless pads would be great for you, both linked in the blog above. They would struggle to hold a full bladders worth of urine released in a flood but will increase in absorbency over the first 3 to 4 washes, let me know at if I can help further, Best wishes, Kirstin

Cheeky Wipes logo
Search icon Account icon Basket icon0