Like many people at the moment, I am always looking for more sustainable solutions. As someone pretty into makeup and skincare, I get through a fair amount of cotton pads each day, so it made sense for me to seek an alternative.
Posts about reusable cotton pads were doing the rounds on social media, so I decided to give them a go. While some people on Twitter and Instagram were buying packs of reusable cotton pads for only a few pounds, I really wanted this to be a long lasting solution, so chose something a little pricier so I could get better quality cotton.
However, while the concept is a great idea, ultimately, reusable cotton pads just haven’t worked for me.
Using the Reusable Cotton Pads
The pads I chose were from Maca Valley, and described as Reusable Makeup Remover Pads, which also came with a Muslin Cloth. The set comprises of 16 organic cotton and bamboo pads and one muslin cloth. The pads are double sided, with one side being a cotton cloth and the other side muslin.
Each pad is larger than your typical cotton pad, meaning that one of these reusable pads is about the equivalent of three disposable cotton pads. When it comes to getting your makeup off, these pads do a pretty good job.
The only thing to be careful with is pouring on the makeup remover liquid, as the pads aren’t the most absorbent, so anything you pour on it has a tendency of rolling off if you don’t let it settle for a few seconds. Other than that, using the cotton pads and muslin cloth is easy. Unfortunately, the cleaning process is a lot more difficult, and is the reason why I would not recommend these reusable cotton pads.
Washing the Reusable Cotton Pads
The washing instructions for these cotton pads say to place the pads in the mesh bag and wash at 30-40 degrees Celsius. I had washed the first couple of cotton pads by hand in the sink right after using them, but they were never 100 percent clean, so I decided to wash all of the pads as described in the instructions.
However, after one round in the washing machine, none of the pads were clean. After a second go through the machine, I still wasn’t satisfied with the results. Some looked clean at first glance, but upon closer inspection were more grey than white, and clearly weren’t fully clean.
Couldn’t get them clean
Others were almost as dirty as when they went in the wash – particularly those which had lipstick or eyeliner on them. While I can understand that some makeup may be more likely to cause staining, these pads were advertised as makeup remover pads, so I would have expected them to be able to cope with makeup!
As the washing machine had not sufficiently cleaned them, I took to soaking the pads in the sink. I hand washed each of the pads with baby shampoo to try to shift some of the makeup, but this didn’t do a great deal. As a final attempt, I boiled the pads in a pan of water, so that they would at least be more sterile.
As you can see, the amount of product that remains on the pads makes them pretty unusable. While a lot of the makeup has gone, the pads remain fairly grey and mucky looking, and some marks won’t shift at all.
Drying the Reusable Cotton Pads
The next issue came from drying the pads. There are no instructions regarding how these pads should be dried on the packaging or online. I guessed that tumble drying would not work, so I only popped one pad in the dryer to test it. As I had anticipated, the Muslin side of the pad shrunk, making the cotton pad curl at the edges. It certainly didn’t become unusable, but it wouldn’t lie flat and you lost a fair amount of the Muslin size.
I then left the rest of the pads to air dry, but after a day, they were just as damp as when I first put them out. Going away for the weekend, I left the pads out to dry around the house, but three days on, they were still a little damp. I popped the heating on for an hour or so to get them back to being usable. However, after four days lying around drying, some pads had collected a bit of dust, so were again unclean! How annoying!
Not easy to use
All in all, the cleaning and drying process was such a hassle, and I feel like I’ve wasted water and energy in the number of times I had to unsuccessfully wash them and have the heating on in June – neither of which really make these “reusable pads” environmentally friendly.
I’m sure these pads are good enough for some people, but I wanted an easy solution, and not to have to spend hours scrubbing these wipes. I’ll be putting these pads to some other use – probably re-purposed as a house cleaning cloth, but they simply aren’t clean enough to use on my face again!
I’m still on the lookout for an eco-friendly makeup removing cloth now, so if you have any recommendations, please drop me a comment below!
2020 UPDATE: I now use a makeup remover cloth I bought in B&M for £1.99 that effectively removes my makeup and the cloth does not stain after washing, even for mascara and lipstick. I would 100% recommend using a makeup remover cloth rather than these pads – it doesn’t have to be expensive.