What Happens If One Doesn’t Have Pads or Tampons Handy? What are the Other Options That Can Help One Prevent Blood Leakage?

Periods may arrive unexpectedly during a woman’s menstrual cycle, catching adolescent girls and women unguarded, especially if they do not have access to sanitary pads. So, what should women do when they do not have pads or tampons handy? What are the other options that they can resort to help in preventing blood leakage? Another common question regarding this is how to use pad in school.

One should not worry, because we are offering help to precisely tackle this problem.

When you do not have a pad or tampon handy during your period cycle, making emergency pads using household items, first-aid items, or washroom essentials is extremely easy. These require simple, basic items and a tad bit of effort. Here are some few ways to make an alternative of sanitary pads when you have run out of all possible options.

However, It is important to note that Ujaas, the menstrual health and menstrual hygiene initiative by Aditya Birla Education Trust, does not recommend or advocate the use of the below mentioned products, which may prove to be unhygienic. One may resort to these items only in the rarest of the rare scenarios.

So what can be options as an alternative to sanitary pads?

(1) Toilet Paper Emergency Pad

In some situations, where you have nothing in hand except toilet paper, you can surely use a thick, multi-layered pad that is made of toilet paper. Such a makeshift pad can be successfully used when you have nothing else within reach. This pad alternative can provide coverage for a couple of hours, depending on your menstrual flow. That said, the process could be extremely messy, and the usage of clean toilet paper is essential.

(2) Socks Makeshift Pads as An Alternative

Socks absorb sweat and liquids easily. Hence, they can be effectively used to produce a makeshift pad during times of emergency. Wrapping a newspaper around that sock after giving it the shape of a square napkin will surely prevent it from shifting too much. These pads make for efficacious, temporary pads, providing coverage for 1-2 hours, based on your menstrual flow.

Ujaas aims to put an end to period shame and reduce period poverty by conducting knowledge and awareness workshops so that adolescent girls and young women do not feel the stigma surrounding periods.

(3) Cotton Wool Pad Another Alternative to Sanitary Pad

This is another pad alternative. Makeshift pads produced from cotton wool are not only easy to make, but they also provide good coverage. Cotton Wool is absorbent, just like socks are. A rectangularly-shaped, pad-size piece of cotton wool can be used as an alternative of sanitary pads with phenomenal ease. That said, wrapping the piece in toilet paper is necessary, and multi-layered wrapping is highly recommended.

(4) Washcloth Pads Can Be An Alternative Option

Using washcloths as a pad alternative is not an uncommon practice. Those women who are too poor to purchase sanitary pads use it numerous times. Washcloth pads offer effective courage for up to four hours, which is as long a duration offered by a regular pad.

Here are a few important things you need to keep in mind while using a washcloth pad as an alternative to sanitary pads.

While preparing such a makeshift pad, one must make use of a thoroughly cleaned and highly absorbent washcloth.

There are three primary ways to use a washcloth in a sanitary pad:

  1. The first uses a rectangular, absorbent, pad-shaped, clean cloth as a pad. However, this can lead to leakage and may offer coverage up to only an hour
  2. The second way is to make use of a plastic sheet beneath the washcloth, thereby extending the coverage up to four hours, and
  3. the third way is to use toilet paper as a wrap around the same washcloth to successfully secure it further from shifting, once placed inside your underwear.

(5) Cotton Ball Pads Might Be An Option

When it comes to period hacks, this strategy is also highly efficient. Cotton balls, too, can be efficiently used as a temporarily absorbent material. They are generally found in first-aid boxes and are quite absorbent. It is extremely important to use only non-coloured cotton balls. Wrapping up some of these cotton balls in toilet paper and giving them a pad-like shape and structure make for an efficient pad alternative or makeshift pad.

(6) Another Alternative To Sanitary Pad - Rag Pads

Rag pads can be used as an alternative to sanitary pads only during emergencies or in highly urgent situations. One specific thing to remember when using a rag is to check its liquid-absorbency level. Menstrual blood tends to be thick for most women, and the use of non-absorbent material will only lead to a disaster. Rag pads need to be used cleanly and hygienically. Unclean rags must never be used as a pad alternative.

Pads from rags can be neatly prepared through the use of a single rectangular rag that is wrapped around in toilet paper to ensure minimal shifting. If available, two pieces of rags can be used instead of one. Such a practice extends the coverage time and minimises the chances of leakage.

Some Handy Tips When It Comes to Using Alternatives of Sanitary Pads

  • Paper towels, paper napkins, and tissues can be efficiently used to replace toilet paper if the latter is unavailable or out of reach.
  • Making use of toilet paper to secure your pad is highly recommended because it prevents the pad from shifting.
  • It is recommended to always use clean products while preparing alternatives of sanitary pads.
  • Using wipes as a replacement of toilet paper is not recommended because wipes may cause irritation in your private parts.
  • It is highly advised to keep pantiliners and period panties within reach if you have no other sanitary product in your possession.
  • You cannot use rag cloth that you created as an emergency pad for other purposes. You must discard them post-usage.
  • It is highly recommended that you use your preferred sanitary product as quickly as possible as the hacks mentioned above are merely temporary fixes.


While making use of alternatives to sanitary pads, ensure that you change them regularly to reduce the chances of leakage and infection. While not ideal, these temporary, makeshift options can work until or unless there are effective solutions in place to end period poverty. One major step in this direction would be ensuring that those with periods can use benefits offered by the government to buy menstrual hygiene products that they need.