The hows and whys of using Washable Cotton Pads

The concept of washable cotton rounds is actually pretty new to me. So it wasn’t at all surprising that many of you slid into my DMs with ‘I didn’t know these existed’ after I posted about them on my Instagram stories over the weekend. This is why I like them: they’re ideal after long days on which a shower is just too labor intensive.

And while I love using them, they are not replacing my other staple, the K-beauty gem that is White Rabbit cotton. If you’re looking to add some eco-friendly and zero waste solutions to your self-care routine, below are the whys and hows of making reusable cotton pads work.

These are the ones that philosophy sent as part of their PR mailer last year!

My first encounter with washable rounds resulted from a philosophy PR mailer. Still have them, use them, and very much enjoy them. What I discovered, however, is that I prefer a larger pad. I found the perfect set on Amazon, which is delivered with a travel bag *and* a washing bag. They are available in white or multi-color options. These extremely soft pads pair perfectly with the micellar waters I have in rotation and do very well in the washer and dryer.

I find I like these a lot because they’re slightly larger in size. And the travel bag is cute.

What are they exactly?

A washable cotton round is a reusable face wipe; imagine a traditional, disposable cotton round and washcloth hybrid. Made of organic bamboo fiber, the threads are woven into a soft, cushiony pad that is ultra gentle and absorbent. It’s both a carrier for your micellar water (like a sponge) and a cleansing device, which helps remove dirt, makeup or sunscreen as you apply pressure by swiping it over your skin. When you’re done, put it inside the washing bag included your set and toss it in with your load of dirty clothes.

Micellar waters I am currently rotating…

What to do and what to skip

  • I prefer to use washable cotton rounds with my micellar water ONLY. Between the texture and absorbency, they make for a great ‘wet cloth wipe’ solution–all the work required in Step 1 of double cleansing.
  • Do not use a washable cotton round with your cleansing balm or cleansing oil. Use your fingers instead, add water, rinse off, and pat dry. Don’t be extra.
  • Do not use a washable cotton round with your toner. My acid toners are precious — looking at you P50 1970. A disposable pad or round round will absorb less product, which makes your splurge more cost-effective. My White Rabbit cotton works best with toners (especially the perforated one, which adds an exfoliating boost to a liquid acid solution).
  • Do not use a washable cotton round with your essences. Essences are to be splashed directly on your face. Pour some into your palm and press into the skin. Easy.
  • Use the washing bag that is included. Otherwise, you are bound to lose a few pads in the washer (or dryer). Where do they go? No idea. The land of lone socks.
  • Be sure your load of laundry is suitable for the ‘hot water’ option. The brand recommends ‘warm’ temperature and the ‘delicates’ cycle but this combination didn’t always remove all traces of my tinted moisturizer from the pad.
  • Do not add fabric softener. It may lead to film accumulating on the pad or, even worse, the addition of an unwanted, strong artificial fragrance. Those with sensitive skin types will find it particularly irritating.
  • I never add bleach when washing my cotton rounds. Why? Maybe I’m old school but I believe bleach may break down and dissolve the stitching on the pads. I want them to last longer, not fall apart more quickly.
  • Off-label use: if you have the patience to lie flat for 15 minutes, soak a couple of cotton rounds in cucumber water or green tea (black tea may stain the pads) and use them as a compress under the eyes on mornings on which you’re looking a little puffy.
tinted sunscreen removed
do not overstuff the washing bag, I say max it out at 10 large rounds
after a regular wash cycle on ‘hot’

Do you need them?

You do if you’re a micellar water user. Otherwise, there’s no need. When shopping for a set of washable cotton rounds, be sure it includes the washing bag. Personally, I prefer the slightly larger pads and my favorite set includes 14 white rounds (each 3.5 inches in diameter). All I need are two pads with a generous splash of micellar water to achieve perfectly cleansed skin.

$14.99 on

Check out Amazon for all kinds of washable rounds!

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