Washable pants are sometimes called ‘pantegrals’ or ‘pants with built-in-pad’. They look similar to normal underwear but have a built in absorbent gusset.
Click on the purple tabs below for information about washable pants.
Washable pants are similar in appearance to normal underwear but have a washable absorbent pad sewn into the gusset area.
They are available in a range of designs (e.g. high/low waist, bikini, and thong) and colours; some have feminine lace panels.
They are designed to be washed and reused around 100 times.
Women have very varying opinions of washable pants 1 and tend to either like them a lot or strongly dislike them.
They tend to be more popular with women who have very light leakage; their leakage performance is not as good as small disposable insert pads 2
They are good at staying in place and are a relatively discreet product, and so are most popular for women (and men) who are particularly active.
They can be a relatively cost-effective product over their lifespan if they work well for you. The initial purchase of the product can be expensive, although some manufacturers may let you buy one product or give you a sample to try.
You really need a washing machine to use these products as they have a tendency to discolour if you hand wash them regularly.
It is hard to say if a washable pant will work well for you without trying it. If you have very light leakage, want to use a cheaper product and are willing to wash and reuse products (at least some of the time) then they could be suitable for you.
You might consider using a combination of disposable insert pads when you are going out and washable pants when you are at home or doing a particular activity. This way you may get the benefits of both designs when you need it with minimum additional laundry and maximum cost effectiveness.
It is possible to use a small disposable liner with these pants which may provide additional absorbency.
You have to be willing to wash and reuse the pads. However, you don’t have to use washable products exclusively; for example, you could choose to just use a washable pant when at home and a diosposable product when out.
If you like the idea of washable products and have light bladder leakage then washable pants might be worth trying.
As washable products generally do not perform as well as disposable products in terms of leakage, it is probably sensible to buy the most absorbent product. It is important to ensure a good close fit to give the product the best chance of working.
Pants are often available in different designs and the size and absorbency of the pad part might be different depending on the design you choose.
Some women have found that working out the amount of urine they lose is helpful in finding the right pad for them. This can be done by weighing a pad before and after use and subtracting the lighter weight (before use) from the heavier weight (after use).
Click on Amount of leakage to find out how to do this.
Click on Pads for more information about washable pads and bowel leakage.
Click on Faecal Devices for information about suitable products.
Washable pants are put on just like your usual underwear. This means removing lower clothing if you are wearing trousers / tights. Doing this once or twice a day may be acceptable but any more frequently might be an unacceptable inconvenience.
If you are dependent on a helper for fitting and changing your pads, you might need to find a product that suits you and is also easy for your helper to change.
If you can stand, even for short periods then washable pants can be quite easily put in place by a helper.
If you are lying in bed, washable pants could be put in place by a helper if you can roll from side to side. However, every time you change the pants you would need to take your trousers/tights off, which you might find time-consuming.
Washable pants are very hard to change in a sitting position unless you can lift your bottom of the chair and move from side to side lifting one buttock of the chair at a time. It might take some practice with you and your carer to get a system that works for you.
These products do not perform as well at containing leakage as disposable pads for light incontinence so there is a high risk of leakage from the product.
The cover stock material is generally made out of polyester, a material regularly used in other clothes. However, like any fabric you could have sensitivity to it.
Washable pants have to be washed and reused so are only suitable if you are happy to do this.
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