When you first start crocheting, you want to make All The Things around the house. They tend to be easy, quick projects which require only a small amount of dishcloth cotton – perfect for beginners! First you make a few washcloths, then you make a Swiffer cover. Before long you’ve graduated to making face scrubbies. You start looking around at all the things you spend money on and wonder…can I crochet that?
One day, overwhelmed by yarn fumes and premenstrual cramps, you may have a eureka moment: I can crochet tampons!
Mmmmmmnope. Bad idea. Crochet tampons are a DDIY project – don’t do it yourself.
[bctt tweet=”Would you really want to explain to your gynecologist that you’ve been shoving yarn up in your ladybits?” username=”jensalilloopy”]
If you’re seriously thinking about shoving a fiber shedding, vaginal lining tearing, unhygienic wad of yarn up your hoohaa, I have some words for you: Toxic shock syndrome. Bacterial vaginosis. Yeast infection.
Step away from the Sugar and Cream and read on (after stopping here for a quick refresher on the ways tampons impact your body). (Spoiler: they aren’t easy on your system .)
Toxic Shock Syndrome
Toxic shock syndrome is nasty, nasty stuff. Thankfully, it’s rare and there are steps you can take to decrease the risk of contracting this disease. Crochet tampons are a giant leap in the opposite direction.
One of the contributing factors to TSS is using tampons with a greater absorbency than required. The FDA guidelines recommend using the lowest required absorbency level for your flow. They’ve created absorbency standards to which all tampon manufacturers must adhere. If you’re making your own crochet tampons, there is no way you can accurately measure the absorbency. On top of that, the absorbency level of a crochet tampon will change over time as the fibers expand, shrink, and deteriorate with use and washing.
Also, crochet tampons have an abrasive texture. The microtears that could result during insertion and removal make it that much easier for dangerous bacteria to enter your bloodstream.
Bacterial vaginosis is much more common. While not as nasty as TSS, if confused for a yeast infection or left untreated, it can become extremely painful and cause lasting harm to your reproductive organs.
Bacterial vaginosis is an imbalance of the “good” and “bad” bacteria in your vagina. Since it is impossible to sterilize a crochet tampon well enough to reuse (as discussed more fully below), using a crochet tampon significantly increases the risk of introducing harmful bacteria.
In addition, the fibers that shed from crochet tampons can remain inside your vagina and trap bacteria. This can cause a bacterial overgrowth.
The fungal cousin to bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, is very common. Yeast infections are an imbalance of yeast cells in your vagina that are super annoying, but generally easy to treat.
Yeast infections are mostly avoidable if you’re taking care of your body by eating a balanced diet (including foods that have active lactobacillus cultures), avoiding antibiotics when possible, and keeping your blood sugar in check. It’s also important to keep your vaginal area clean and dry by wearing cotton underwear and changing tampons and pads frequently.
Yeast infections love warmth and moisture. Crochet tampons are a perfect breeding ground for yeast. Many crochet tampons are made by crocheting a rectangle and rolling them into a tube shape. This creates a LOT more surface area than manufactured tampons have. More surface area = more places for yeast to grow.
Yarn is Not a Suitable Material for Tampons
Since it has never been studied, there is no real way of knowing how using yarn inside of your vagina affects the balance of the organisms residing there.
The only yarns that might be suitable for making crochet tampons are unbleached and undyed cotton or hemp. Cotton and hemp are absorbent, compostable, and don’t shed fibers as readily as wool (crocheting tampons with fiber that comes from animals is a whole level of OMG NOPE I’m not even going to get into).
That said, you’d have to do some research into whether any chemicals were used during the yarn manufacturing process (some yarns are cleaned with chemicals, stiffened with sizing, etc.). Obviously dyed cotton yarn is out. Look at how much (and how quickly) washcloths made from dyed cotton fade – that dye is going somewhere, and it is made from chemicals you definitely don’t want bleeding into your vagina.
Even if you use the softest cotton ever, once crocheted it will become a fabric consisting of many bumps and ridges. Compare the surface texture of something you’ve crocheted to that of a tampon:
Using a crochet tampon is the equivalent of inserting yarn sandpaper into your vagina. Not comfortable, and potentially hazardous to your health.
Crochet Tampons Can Never Be Adequately Cleaned
Forget the washing machine.
Just because something looks clean doesn’t mean it’s clean enough to insert into your vagina. That’s why your gynecologist uses an autoclave to clean speculums before using them with another patient.
Speculums are non-porous and need to be cleaned in an autoclave. Crochet tampons are absorbent and full of fibers in which bacteria can hide.
To get crochet tampons as clean as you would need them to be to safely reuse them, you’d either have to boil or bleach them. Boiling will shrink the cotton and weaken the fibers, causing fiber shedding. Bleaching crochet tampons would negate the environmental benefit of purchasing undyed/unbleached yarn. Further, there is no way to tell if the bleach residue has been sufficiently removed. Bleached crochet tampons create a risk for internal chemical burns.
There is no way to get a crochet tampon clean enough to use more than once.
Crochet Tampons are SO Don’t Do It Yourself
Making crochet tampons seems like an economic, environmentally friendly project. But, the potential health consequences of reusing handmade feminine hygiene products outweigh the environmental or economic advantage.
A box of tampons costs about five bucks. How much would it cost you to treat toxic shock syndrome, bacterial vaginosis, or even a simple yeast infection? At a minimum, my copay to see the gynecologist is $60 – more than ten times the cost of a box of tampons. Not so budget friendly anymore, is it? And would you really want to explain to your gynecologist that you’ve been shoving yarn up in your ladybits? AWKWARD.
On its face, it seems environmentally friendly to buy unbleached/undyed yarn to crochet tampons. By creating a reusable product, you’re keeping a significant amount of trash out of the waste stream. But, on the back end, keeping the tampons “clean enough” to reuse (which I firmly believe is impossible) would require significant water, energy, and/or chemical usage.
There are plenty of reusable feminine hygiene products on the market: Diva Cup, Lunette, Mooncup, etc. Whatever your feelings are about them, they’re safe enough that they’ve gotten a stamp of approval from the FDA. If something goes horribly wrong and you are injured or made sick by those products, you have avenues for legal recourse.
Not so with crochet tampons. If you make them or purchase them from an Etsy seller, you’re on your own. You have no recourse against the yarn manufacturer, because yarn is not intended to be inserted into your vagina. If you buy crochet tampons on Etsy, chances are good that the seller doesn’t have insurance coverage for that sort of thing.
Alternatives to Crochet Tampons
I get it. I like to live lightly upon the Earth too, and fully support replacing disposable items with handmade, reusable ones. I hate tampons with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns, but if I’m really being honest, I just hate dealing with my period period. No blood catchment solution will make me happy, even if it’s cute and cleans up after itself.
But in this case, handmade is an incredibly bad idea.
If you’re committed to managing your menses in an environmentally friendly way, there are MANY safer options than crochet tampons. Here are a few:
[amazon product links)
For your health’s sake, please use something that has been researched, tested, and approved for use by the FDA.
Let’s Talk About It!
Have you tried crochet tampons or do you think they are the worst idea ever? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
Maybe a little bit wacky, but why not? Great for the environment and also the wallet!
Pretty sure the blogger gave MORE than a few reasons why not… Did ya read this?
No one regulates the chemicals or materials used in store bought tampons/pads. The FDA does not have your vaginal health in mind when approving anything in pads and tampons. Tampons and pads are not sterile or sanitized just because they are white and wrapped in plastic! I’ve seen pictures of tampons found with staples and pieces of glass sticking out of the tampons! Ouch!
100% cotton is not rough and super easy to clean.
I’ve used crocheted tampons and cloth pads for years and have had less menstrual pain and bleeding than when I used store bought tampons and pads. I know what materials are touching/inserted into my body and I’m healthier for it. I’ve never had an infection or TSS while using these. I wash my items thoroughly after each use, using all natural cleansers. My tampons do not leave behind any fibers and do not over absorb the natural moisture of the vagina. There is no sandpaper feeling at all.
I like knowing that I’m not filling up landfills with my monthly garbage! More people should consider reusables to help save our planet!
I think publications such as these are bad for the environment!
Thank you for sharing your perspective. I agree that the products we use during our menstrual cycle create a lot of waste. Reusable feminine hygiene products are a good option for those who place a priority on the environmental impact of their menstrual cycle.
Nope nope nope
You literally cannot know what fibers are being left behind in your vagina unless you are getting up in there with a microscope camera or taking routine samples.
Stick with the menstrual cups and cloth pads, ladies. These things are naaaaaasty.
Amen sister! Preach! 😉 Totally agree!
So, five years later, I’mma call BS on most of that. No sources referenced, no proof of making, no quoting doctors saying healthier-ness has been achieved definitely due to the homemade hoo-ha products, not even links to articles or pictures involving “staples and glass in pads/tampons”, and frankly, I doubt this poster is even a hooker… Sure, maybe s/he prefers to purchase crocheted items from other crafters, but then where’s the shoutout to said seller/yarn artist/hooker?
The first though that entered my mind while reading this comment was “If this person is telling the truth, are they even still alive at this point?” TSS can come out of nowhere when you think you’re fine and the next thing you know you’re waking up in a hospital with multiple amputations. My most vivid memory of health class was the teacher describing in detail how she lost her closest friend in college from TSS.
The more I analyzed the wording used, excessive exclamation points, and complete misinformation thrown around (complete with multiple buzzwords), the more I started to squint and wonder if this poster even has a hoo-ha to shove yarn into.
Fun fact for anyone wandering through: landfills aren’t bad. They’re giant, controlled compost piles, and the methane produced from the decomposition process is harvested to power the garbage trucks that pick up and haul the garbage.
Its better to cut a square of cotton cloth and roll it up to use as a tampon. Not a lot better but less bumps and u can make it in like a second in diff sizes. And u just wash them in the machine and boil once n awhile. Tampons are the devil and your vagina isn’t a newborn baby, it can take a little bit of beating, sex and tampons cause tears also fyi
How people deal with their period is up to them but objectively speaking, tampons of any kind are not a good choice. Disposables are made with harsh chemicals and leave tiny fibres and tears in the vagina. They’re not as sterile as you think and they over absorb the moisture your vagina needs to be healthy and clean.
Agree that how women choose to deal with their period is totally up to them. This post is about crochet tampons specifically (which I’m sure you can agree are a bad idea if you believe other types of tampons are problematic), and was responding to a trend in the crochet community at the time. ❤️