Reusable cotton pads

Reusable cotton pads

The end of one year and the start of the next is always a time for reflection and contemplation. Like many people’s, my main resolution for 2020 is to make changes to my lifestyle in order to be more thoughtful about my (and my family’s) diet, health, and impact on the environment.

I think I first came across the idea of making reusable cotton pads while looking for DIY Christmas gift ideas. Ultimately, I didn’t actually make any Christmas gifts, as we eventually decided to hold a family Secret Santa exchange this year which meant that, apart from my husband’s gift, I only had to get one other adult a gift. My Secret Santa recipient had indicated that they’d love to receive a particular item, so I bought that for them instead.

Side note: we really loved the Secret Santa exchange. All the adults received one meaningful gift from their Secret Santa, and the website we used to draw the names also allowed you to set up a wish list or leave some hints as to hobbies etc to help make sure that the gifts would actually be liked and used. There was no restriction on gifts for children. We had 14 family members around for Christmas, so you can imagine how much of a reduction in mindless gift-shopping that resulted in! Everyone agrees that we’ll do the same again next Christmas!

I still wanted to try out the reusable cotton pads, though, and I managed to make a batch each for my household, my mum’s and my sister’s. They are really easy to make, and if you do each stage in batches, they don’t take too long. I made about 30, in short bursts of activity spread out over a couple of weeks.

How to make reusable cotton pads:


I used towelling fabric and cotton flannel, both from Minerva Crafts. You can make the pads either with flannel for both sides, or with one side flannel and the other side towelling fabric. I made a mixture, as I use the all-flannel pads for light liquids such as my cleansing toner and the flannel-and-towelling pads for creamy products such as a cream-based make up remover.

Because the fabrics are approximately 60″ wide, you don’t need a full metre. If you had even a 25cm length of each, you could still make at least 15 pads. I ordered the minimum 1-metre length from Minerva, so I do have some left over. I plan to use the flannel for future interlining, and the towelling for a baby gift in a few months.

It would have been more sustainable to reuse some old fabric, but I didn’t have anything suitable in my scraps box, which is mainly bits of crepe and wool! It’s worth having a rummage for fabric you could re-use though. Just make sure it’s suitable for rubbing on your face every day!


  1. Cut out squares of fabric. Mine were approximately 4″ (10cm) square, slightly larger than the disposable pads I usually use. (You can cut circles if you prefer, but squares are quicker to sew neatly, and easier to cut out with minimal wasted fabric.) Because I wanted to have a mixture of all-flannel and flannel-and-towelling pads, I cut out 15 squares of the towelling, and 45 squares of the flannel.
  2. Place two squares together, with the right sides together if your fabric has a discernible right and wrong side. Stitch around the edges with a small seam allowance and leave an open gap of roughly 2″ (5cm) for turning. I just used the edge of my presser foot as a guide for the seam allowance, which is about 1/4″ (6mm).
  3. Trim your seam allowances if they are larger than 1/4″, and trim diagonally across the corners to reduce bulk.
  4. Turn the pad right sides out, through the gap you left in step 2. Push the corners out with a point-turner tool if necessary.
  5. Stitch the opening closed. You can either do this by hand, for an invisible seam, or machine stitch across the gap. I did the latter, as I wasn’t too fussed about having that line of stitching showing. You might also choose to continue this stitching all the way around the pad, as top-stitching. I did this on the first pad, but didn’t bother with the rest as it would have taken more time to make that top-stitching neat all the way round. Let’s be real, this is not the sort of project that needs to be picture perfect!

I have been using these cotton pads for a couple of weeks now and am very happy with them. Immediately after use, I rinse them well with warm water, which removes a lot of the product (although not 100%, when I’ve worn foundation for example), and then pop them on my towel rack to dry. They can then just go in the washing machine with other laundry when necessary, and are ready to be used again.

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