Does Period Underwear Smell?
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Does Period Underwear Smell?

by Aisle Team
Does Period Underwear Smell?

Period underwear can come with a plethora of questions from non-believers and yet-to-be period underwear converts: Does period underwear smell? How do I wash period underwear? And what do I do to get rid of the smell? 

When my first pair of period underwear came in the mail, I still classified myself as a non-believer in period panties. I had heard all the pros and cons and read all the listicles and blogs online. But after decades of using disposable pads and chemical-heavy tampons, I wanted a safer and more environmentally friendly alternative. Not to mention, something a bit more comfortable.

Enter Aisle period underwear.

I’m happy to say that I successfully got through my first and very heavy period without a single leak. I slept more comfortably (so long disposable pads that keep me up at night!) and didn’t have to use a tampon (bye-bye, chemicals!). And I learned a lot in the process. Including how to wash and care for my period underwear to make it last, and how to address the pesky period underwear odors. 

Here's a handy guide for all the believers and non-believers alike.

Does Period Underwear Smell?

There is a popular yet unfounded belief that period underwear smells bad. 

The truth is, period blood doesn’t have a smell aside from a slightly metallic smell that will only occur when it meets the air. But this is true of all types of blood – period or otherwise.

That said, proper care and wash techniques are required to make sure that your period underwear is properly and thoroughly cleaned. A simple rinse post-period won’t cut it.

Aisle period underwear is made with TENCEL, a fiber that is naturally less susceptible to odor-causing bacterial growth. Not to mention that TENCEL is highly breathable, biodegradable and sustainably sourced (just another way that Aisle keeps your period eco-friendly). 

Help! Why does my period underwear smell?

There are plenty of reasons why, if you have your Aisle period underwear on hand, that they could still smell post-wash. While I cover this below in proper washing and care tips, one reason could be the use of fabric softener

Fabric Softener should not be used to wash your period underwear as it leaves a residue on fabric that can not only inhibit absorbency, but can also hang on to unpleasant odours.

Also, think of period panties like a tampon: the longer you leave a tampon in, the more it will absorb and create opportunities for odors and scents. With period underwear, the more frequently they are properly washed and cared for, the less opportunity there is for odor-causing bacteria to sit and grow. 

How Do I Wash My Period Underwear?

Keeping your period underwear clean using proper care methods can help to reduce your chance of unsightly odors. 

First things first, it’s important to wash and clean your period underwear often. And even more so, to change your period underwear like you would any other period management product such as a pad or tampon. This may mean, depending on your flow, changing your period underwear anywhere from two to four times during the day. With Aisle’s Boost period underwear line you can bleed onto the Booster and swap it out for a fresh one throughout the day. Depending on how heavy your flow is you can use the same pair for your day and just opt for a few Boosters instead of changing the undies themselves. 

Once you’ve finished using a pair of period underwear, it’s best to rinse them in cold water right away. Rubbing the gusset together will help to get out more of that absorbed period blood. You can squeeze the water out and add them to your laundry, or allow them to dry out until you're ready to wash your next load.

Throwing period panties in the wash with your regular clothes is just fine – but putting them on a gentle, cold water cycle will help prolong their lifespan. As stated, no fabric softener is required – this will help to keep up the absorbency of the gusset. Mild detergents are also best.

I wash my period underwear but they still smell. 

Then it’s time to call in a deeper cleaning regimen.

If you have persistent *scents* with your period underwear, soaking them in a sink or basin of vinegar and water (mostly water, less vinegar) may help to get rid of any bacteria that is causing the smell. You can leave them to soak for a couple of hours - just don't leave them soaking for days, that will only create more opportunities for smells.

Once you’ve washed them – either by hand, washing machine, or candlelight – they can be machine dried or hung to dry if your situation permits. 

Make sure they are fully dried before putting them away. Because of their absorbency, period underwear may take extra time to dry fully.

So be patient– But we are sure they will be ready to use for your next period!


Amy Saunders is an SEO strategist and queer writer of poetry, prose, essays and branded content. Her work has been published in Chatelaine, VICE, TeenVogue, SheDoesTheCity and with brands such as DivaCup. She lives in the unceded and ancestral territory of Kjipuktuk with her husband and daughter.

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