Sanitary Pad Disposal 101
ILLUSTRATION BY AMBER PITHIE RENFREY ON BEHANCE
Girl, how can I even begin. According to this article by Initial, they’ve called Malaysians out for improper sanitary waste disposal. And you know what, I agree with that.
How many times have you walked into a public washroom and saw period stains on the seat, overflowing pads in the sanitary bin and wet floors? Perhaps these aren’t a big deal to you, but they all can pose health risks by creating breeding grounds for dangerous bacteria and diseases.
I believe it’s time that we learn how to dispose of our pads the right way.
1. Sanitary bins
Sanitary bins are special bins for the collection of feminine hygiene products. Hi-tech ones can be equipped with infrared sensors to open the bin to prevent cross-contamination from touch but most of these bins should have disinfectant granules and anti-bacterial technology to keep the germs away.
Most workplaces and well-managed public washrooms should have these proper sanitary bins. Sometimes, these bins even come with sanitisation services by the respective hygiene companies. The bins are emptied and sanitised regularly to ensure that hygiene standards are met, especially in places where many people go in and out the washroom from like malls, office complexes and schools.
2. Disposing it yourself
Now, don’t be afraid, sanitary pads aren’t a danger to society and they can be disposed with other general waste! As it is not clinical or hazardous waste, anyone can empty bins with sanitary pads in them. Still, there are ways to dispose of sanitary pads cleanly, starting with wrapping your pads well before you throw them away.
- Fold the wings in and roll your pad up tightly
- Use the new wrapper of the new pad to wrap up the old pad or you can use some toilet paper to wrap it up
- Put it into a small disposable bag (if you have one!)
- Throw it in a covered bin (if possible!)
- Wash your hands immediately with soap
There are also special disposal bags you can buy to get rid of smells or to separate your sanitary pad waste from other household waste. These lemon scented bags from Tesco might just be the next best thing if you’re struggling from odours.
1. NEVER EVER FLUSH YOUR PAD
Even if your sanitary pad is biodegradable, you cannot flush it! It should always go into the bin. Flushing biodegradable products actually doesn’t help them degrade at all, as they need optimum temperatures and environments to really decompose.
You also risk clogging your toilet and that may even cause all the nasty stuff to come back out!
2. NEVER DISPOSE IT WITHOUT WRAPPING
Listen, no one wants to see it. But more importantly, it’s just gonna be a huge health risk as the absorbent damp pad is a possible breeding ground for bacteria. When you flush your poop, a mist is released that can contain anything from Hepatitis A and C to salmonella and E. coli.
Now, why is it important to dispose your pads properly?
As mentioned, sanitary disposal bins can be the most dangerous place in a woman’s bathroom due to the contents as well as the actual bin being a breeding ground for microorganisms.
Placing sanitary bins beside the toilet also increases the risk as any bacteria from our poop may actually survive for months on the surface of the bin if not properly cleaned. Therefore, it is important to get a sanitisation service for public bathrooms and for the home, just make sure you empty your bins often.
2. Environment and Property Damage
Overflowing sanitary bins are pretty much a norm in public bathrooms, which only encourages women to flush their sanitary waste down the toilet. This will not only cause expensive drain clearing bills, but pollute water systems, rivers and beaches!
Sanitary products made from cotton may cause clogs and blockages when flushed as cotton does not break down easily in water. From this, unpleasant smells will definitely happen. If you’re not a fan of airing your dirty laundry, do not ever think about flushing your pads!