Best Way to Choose Reusable

Posted by Brianna Maguire on Nov 13th 2020

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What are reusable underpads?

Reusable underpads, also called chux or reusable bed underpads, are large rectangular pads used to protect surfaces of all kinds from incontinence. They have a soft top sheet, a synthetic quilted inside that absorbs moisture, and a woven back sheet to help prevent slippage. They can be used on beds, floors, church pews, wheelchairs, car seats, and more. Since they’re reusable, just toss them in the washing machine when you’re finished and use them again and again!

Who should use reusable underpads?

Washable underpads are great for those who:

  • Need to protect furniture from incontinence
  • Are caring for loved ones who won’t wear pull-ups or diapers with tabs
  • Are taking care of wounds
  • Are changing enteral feeding tubes
  • Are changing ostomy bags
  • Are looking for an environmental and economical alternative to disposable underpads
  • Are looking for a product to place underneath a disposable underpad, for extra furniture protection from leakage

Who shouldn't use them?

Washable underpads are probably not a good choice for:

  • Busy caregivers who don’t have time for multiple loads of laundry
  • Those looking for a top sheet that dries soon after the user voids (consider a disposable underpad with polymers instead)
  • Those looking for a very absorbent underpad

How do they work?

Just place a reusable underpad on whatever you’d like to protect from incontinence (chairs, beds, car seats, or anything else). Use them for tending wounds, changing enteral feeding tubes, changing incontinence products, or just as an extra barrier.

How to wash a reusable underpad

  • Once the underpad is soiled, you’ll want to wash it thoroughly so it’s squeaky clean the next time you need it
  • Machine wash the underpad as you would any other article of clothing, but make sure to only wash it with other underpads.
  • Make sure you never wash underpads with more than 85% capacity in the washer and dryer
  • Drying time depends on the weight of the underpad - higher absorbency underpads will take longer to dry
  • Once the underpad has finished its cycle in the dryer, be sure to take it out within five minutes
  • Be sure not to use fabric softeners, as they will reduce absorbency

What features exist?

Backing material

While there are different kinds of backing, they’re all made of similar (plastic-like) materials that stop moisture from soaking through to furniture.

Odor protection

Some odor pads are designed specifically to eliminate odors from incontinence by killing the odor-causing bacteria.

Top sheet texture

Top sheets come in varying degrees of softness. If you or a loved one will be laying on the underpad for extended periods of time, you’ll want to look for words like “extra soft.”

Range of sizes

Reusable underpads come in various sizes, ranging from 18 x 24 inches all the way up to 36 x 72 inches - the size of a twin-sized bed!. Make sure you choose a size that matches both the person that needs protection against incontinence and the furniture the pad is used on. Larger furniture (like beds) will require larger pads, while smaller furniture (like wheelchairs) can get away with smaller pads

Core material

Reusable pads tend to be less absorbent than disposable pads, because the core is not made with polymers. This means they’re great for protecting furniture or even placing underneath a disposable underpad, but they aren’t as effective at absorbing moisture.

How do I choose?

  1. Start by deciding which features are the most important to you. If you want to protect against odors, look for odor-guard technology. Using the underpad for long-term support, like for someone that’s bedridden? You’ll want to look for a soft topsheet.
  2. Think about what size is best for your needs. Consider:
    1. The size of the person experiencing incontinence
    2. The size of the surface you're covering
  3. Consider how you’ll be using the underpad. If you’re changing an enteral feeding tube or ostomy bag, you likely just need a small, less absorbent product. If you’re going to be laying on the pad for long periods of time, you’ll need something more heavy-duty.
  4. Still have questions? Our friendly Care Team is always happy to help. Give us a call at 855-855-1666!

Carewell's recommendations

Our customers love disposable underpads from brands like Beck’s Classics, CareForand ReliaMed.

Our customers love reusable underpads like:

Extremely comfortable yet absorbent, this reusable underpad is great for almost every situation. With an absorbent layer that keeps moisture away from skin and a waterproof backing to prevent leaks, it’s no wonder our caregivers love this product. They even come in a size 36 x 72 - the size of an entire twin-sized bed!

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Brittany's pro-tips

It may be tempting to fold reusable underpads so they fit into different spaces, but this actually makes them less absorbent. Underpads are carefully designed to have one absorbent side and one waterproof side, so folding them tends to cause leaks.

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