Cotton, toilet paper, sanitary napkin… What are reusable hygiene products worth?

Whether for children’s diapers, in our bathroom with cotton pads or even our toilets with toilet paper, these products are surprising but some are gradually becoming part of our customs. But are they so economical and hygienic? RMC Conso takes stock.

We can now find them in every room of our house. Reusable hygiene products are the solution to combat single-use hygiene products, which are responsible for producing hundreds of kilos of waste. An ecological argument which adds to the savings that reusable would allow.

But these products can get a bad rap when the health aspect is mentioned. Particularly if they are misused. RMC Conso was interested in the economic and hygienic promises of cotton, periodic protection, toilet paper and reusable diapers.

An investment that pays off quickly?

If you want to turn to reusable products, you need to study your own consumption. While some commonly used products do not represent a large budgetary investment, others require real logistics, such as children’s diapers. Sales of reusable diapers still remain very confidential and only concern between 3 and 5% of parents, according to 20 minutes.

When it comes to maintenance, information differs depending on the manufacturer. While some recommend soaking before washing, others advise against it. Just like the number of washes or their temperature, which differ depending on the quality of the diapers. Users are therefore advised to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Is this investment of time rewarded in terms of the wallet? For Fanny Taillard, manager of EcologiQ, a site specializing in reusable products, diapers remain “a niche” and are only purchased by parents “with the most developed ecological sensitivity”. On her online sales site that she has run since 2009, the business manager estimates the investment at €200 to €300 “until the child is clean”, compared to €1,500 to €2,000 for diapers. single use over the same period.

Because these diapers, generally sold in one size to adapt to the child’s body shape, also require accessories. Some brands sell absorbents to be placed between the diaper and the child for greater effectiveness, which are also reusable. A necessary cost to take into account.

Mix reusable and disposable products

In the case of makeup remover cottons, we must again compare according to our uses. For example, the price of a package of 50 disposable units are around €2when the washable versions sold by a cosmetic giant like Aromazone are sold for €6 and are intended for over 2,000 uses. It remains for users to take into account the time required to clean them.

Concerning periodic protection, if the cost of a menstrual cycle amounts, according to Le Monde, to €7.50 for single-use protection and painkillers, reusable also seems to be a solution, but it represents a certain investment. On average, count on around thirty euros to purchase menstrual panties, knowing that you need several models per cycle. A price also noted by Règles Élémentaires, which fights against menstrual poverty and observes a combination of uses between disposable products and menstrual panties.

“On average, a menstruating person has three pairs of panties and still mixes with disposable products,” Justine Okolodkoff, director of “Awareness & Advocacy” at Règles Élémentaires, explains to RMC Conso.

As for sanitary napkins, prices vary between €20 and €50 depending on the number and quality. Finally, for menstrual cups, count on average €30 for a lifespan of between 5 and 10 years.

No medical contraindications

If the economic argument of reusable therefore depends on the use of each person, these products still suffer from a reputation as a “nest of microbes”. For Marie Jourdan, dermatologist and member of the French Society of Dermatology, washables pose no danger to users, provided that care is taken with care.

“It is necessary that they are washed well according to the seller’s recommendations,” specifies the doctor at RMC Conso. “In the case of worn utensils (diapers and sanitary protection), they must be changed regularly.”

A speech similar to that of Fanny Taillard, who recommends two to three days maximum before washing reusable products that come into contact with the skin. But some associative actors are calling for vigilance, particularly for reusable periodic protection. Justine Okolodkoff reminds our editorial team that if the recommendations generally around 12 hours given by manufacturers do not present contraindications, it is up to the people who use these products to adapt, according to the functions and flows.

In 2021, the fraud department investigated the matter. Result: the analysis results “did not reveal any risk for users of single-use or washable tampons, washable napkins and menstrual panties”.

Washable toilet paper has few fans

“But the absence of risk, reassuring for menstruating people, could be supplemented by an improvement in the quality of these products in terms of residual chemical substances,” specifies the DGCCRF. Since April 1, a decree requires manufacturers to mention the list of components in textile articles intended for menstruation.

Are the French ready to take the plunge into reusable products such as toilet paper? Fanny Taillard admits that this proposition can be confusing. Its use is still very marginal.

“We have been marketing this product for several years and we had to work on the sales pitch,” she explains. “It’s difficult to suggest that guests at home use it. In this case, you can keep a single-use roller in complement”.

Regarding the storage and washing of the product once used, EcologiQ recommends: easy access for clean sheets, a device to accommodate the used sheet (a bag, an airtight basket and easy to use) and a system allowing transport and handling without contact with used sheets. When it comes to cleaning, the merchant site recommends a 40° program.