When To Change Your Incontinence Pads & Pants

1 Comment2 September 2022  |  Admin

Did you know that the average human bladder holds 400 - 700ml of urine? However, for some people it can stretch to hold over a litre!  Most people feel the urge to pee when the bladder is holding around 150ml. With some types of incontinence such as urge or stress incontinence, you’ll probably find this kicks in when your bladder is holding as little as 80ml, which is very frustrating as it means you are dashing to the toilet quite often.

When to change your incontinence pads

That's why we've teamed up with Penny Broderick from Minivivi  for this ultimate guide to incontinence pants & pads which covers:

When to Change Your Incontinence Pants and Pads

When to change your incontinence pants and pads will vary from person to person as we are all different, but the majority prefer to change when possible after a leak, mainly for peace of mind and also so you can feel fresh and confident.

Cheeky Pants range of washable incontinence pads and incontinence underwear for men and women are designed to hold from 50ml up to approx 300ml depending on size, so you can be confident that you are protected should you not make it to a toilet in time. There are now various charities for bladder and bowel incontinence who provide a “can’t wait” card. This card is not a free pass but does help if you need to suddenly dash to a toilet, or if you are questioned for using a disabled loo without a visible disability. 

How Often Should You Change Incontinence Pants?

Ideally you should change your incontinence pants as soon as you're aware of a leak. With disposable products this is easy to tell as the pads will swell, like the absorbent inner of a nappy.

With washable incontinence pants there isn't this swelling, however you do tend to get used to noticing the slight change in weight. though which can indicate that you need to change them for those of us unaware of when our bladder is leaking. Penny says 'I change my pad as soon as possible after a leak as one leak tends to be capacity for the pad size I prefer to use the majority of the time'. 

What if I am going out and might not find a loo to change my incontinence pants?

Penny goes on to explain 'If I am going out for a day trip, I will usually team the Feeling Fearless reusable incontinence pants with a larger pad, so that I can be more confident that if I cannot change easily, I still have robust protection even for heavy incontinence. There are various apps available now that tell you the location of toilets in the area you are in, which is really handy!'

Can I use period pads for incontinence?

If your bladder weakness only causes very little leaks then yes you can use period pads for incontinence. However the average period is 80ml over the whole week, which can easily be just one small bladder leak for most people! Period products are not designed to hold the much larger volume of fluid that Cheeky incontinence pads and pants are designed to hold. 

Mens washable incontinence pants

How many washable incontinence pads will I need?

How many washable incontinence pads you need will vary hugely person to person. We recommend that initially, you can buy one or two pads a month and build up a larger number gradually over time. That way you can check whether you need a higher absorbency option.

Whilst reusable pads and underwear seem expensive initially, if you suffer from urinary incontinence the savings over time can be significant.  Penny observes 'Using figures I found on Money Saving Expert I estimated that I have saved over £1,000 a year since I switched to reusable incontinence products and they can last many years if looked after properly. With a larger number of pads you can wash less often'.

Kids Incontinence Bed Wetting Pants

How do you clean reusable incontinence pads?

To clean reusable incontinence pads:

  • store in a wetbag or mini strucket once used and waiting to be washed
  • wash in a reasonable length of wash cycle with your usual detergent (we wash with towels once a week to save on additional washing costs)
  • avoid fabric conditioner which can impact absorbency
  • air dry to prolong the life of your pads (tumble drying can make them deteriorate more quickly)

Wetbags are discreet and can be hung on a towel rail or on the back of the door.  Penny hangs hers from the toilet roll holder in easy reach and nobody has ever asked what it is or why it is there! They are also easy to unzip and empty into the washing machine. You can wash with towels - if your towels come clean then so will your pads. Fabric conditioner should be avoided with both towels and pads because it will coat the fibres and reduce absorbency. 


Do incontinence pads smell?

Again, this varies person to person. If you are drinking enough fluid, then your urine shouldn’t smell strongly and you shouldn't suffer from any bad odours. However it can be difficult to drink plenty when you know that you will have to keep dashing to the toilet. Our reusable incontinence pads are backed with charcoal-impregnated fabric that help absorb and reduce odour.

There are no perfumes in our reusable sanitary pads, which are often what makes single-use pads smell so strongly. Medication can also increase odour.   Penny explains 'Even on azathioprine (an immunosuppressive medication often used to help with autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s) there is no noticeable odour and I am confident that I do not smell'. 

About the Authors: 

Penny Broderick is the maker of Minivivi incontinence products, Cheeky Vivi Incontinence Pads  and founder of the UK Cloth Nappy Network.  She's been specialising in reusable products since 2010 and is considered an expert in her field.

Helen Rankin is the founder of Cheeky Wipes & Cheeky Pants who have been innovators in the field of 'Simple Reusables' since 2008.  Team Cheeky LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods and love to convert customers to reusable incontinence products, saving them money and saving the planet too.  Their range also includes childrens waterproof bed sheets and the Secret Whispers Pelvic Floor Toner.  The company was recognised for their innovation in 2021 when they were awarded the Queens Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development.


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