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Tesco no longer cheapest for sanitary pads after it DOUBLES price - here's where to find the cheapest now


The price of the cheapest sanitary pads sold by major retailers and supermarkets - a 10-pack of Tesco Essentials maxi towels - has almost doubled since this time last year, can reveal. The hike is a blow to those trying to keep costs down as the cost of living soars but there are still ways you can save.

Since 2018, when we launched our Cheap sanitary products guide comparing the cost of buying the cheapest own-brand products versus pricey branded products, Tesco had offered the cheapest sanitary pads based on the price per pad.

But a recent check of prices, which is backed up by data from specialist comparison tool Sanitary Saver (which compares the cost of pads and tampons at all of the major supermarkets), has shown that Tesco's product has doubled in price from 2p a pad (23p a pack) to 4p a pad (42p a pack). 

While this may not sound like a lot, it means the average 'lifetime cost' of buying Tesco Essentials maxi towels (10-pack) has gone from £242 to £441 (see below for how the lifetime cost is calculated). Tesco blames rising production costs for the rise. 

Food writer and campaigner, Jack Monroe, highlighted a stark increase in the price of supermarkets' cheapest products in a Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee evidence session earlier this month, with some value products disappearing from shelves altogether. As a result, Asda has promised to stock its budget ranges in all 581 of its supermarkets as well as online.

The cheapest sanitary products NOW available

If you've been using Tesco Essentials maxi towels, you can save by switching to a different supermarket. The next cheapest pad we found was Asda's regular ultra towels at 3p a towel (50p for a pack of 16). Alternatively, Asda's regular non-applicator tampons are an even cheaper 2p a tampon (70p for a pack of 32). 

Below we've listed the cheapest pads and tampons available right now.

Cheapest sanitary products

Asda regular non-applicator tampons (32-pack)
2p £230
Asda regular ultra towels (16-pack)
50p 3p £315
Morrisons maxi towels (24-pack)
85p 4p £372
Asda regular applicator tampons (20-pack)
70p 4p £420
Tesco Essentials maxi towels (10-pack)
42p 4p £441

Last checked 15 March 2022. (1) Based on an estimated 10,500 sanitary products per lifetime (see full calculations below).

More top tips to save money on sanitary products

Whichever product you currently use, there are lots of ways you can cut costs, from switching to reusables to using a specialist sanitary product comparison site. Our Cheap sanitary products guide has full info, but here are our top tips to get you started:

  • Downshift from branded to own-brand products. Many MoneySavers report finding little difference between branded tampons and towels (eg, Always, Bodyform, Tampax) and supermarket own-brands.

  • Use a sanitary product comparison site to see where's cheapest. Find out which store sells the cheapest sanitary products with Sanitary Saver (developed by team member Adam). It breaks down the cost of tampons and pads from Asda, Boots, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury's, Superdrug, Tesco and Waitrose.

  • Look out for FREE samples and coupons. Big brands often give out free samples, usually when they have a new product they want to promote. Snap them up when they're available, and use them to supplement your stock of sanitary products. We'll list these freebies on our Supermarket Coupons page, alongside other coupons available for sanitary products and personal hygiene.

  • Use a free period-tracker app. There are a number of free smartphone apps to help you track your cycle, and predict when your next period is due. This can help you plan ahead and save, by ensuring you have your preferred sanitary products ready in the cupboard, rather than having to rush out and buy at a higher price from the nearest shop. See our top picks.

  • Switch to reusable sanitary products. Some avoid using disposable pads and tampons altogether, and find reusable alternatives more comfortable and absorbent. These include menstrual cups, reusable pads and underwear (often called 'period pants' – Primark and M&S have both launched their own range). See our full rundown of resuable options for full help.

Struggling to afford sanitary products? How to get help

If you're struggling to afford sanitary products you may be able to get them for free from a foodbank. To get help from most foodbanks, you need to be referred (though this isn't the case with some independent foodbanks). You can typically get referred by a doctor, health visitor, school or social worker. If you're not sure who to talk to, try asking charity Citizens Advice.

There are a number of other places offering free sanitary products too, though it often depends where you live. For example, those in Scotland can get free sanitary products in schools, colleges, libraries and leisure centres. Meanwhile, in England, schools can also now order sanitary products to give out for free. See our Cheap sanitary products guide for more ways to find help.

How we've calculated the average lifetime cost of periods 

According to experts, someone who has periods will: 

  • Have up to 480 periods in their lifetime. The NHS says that between the ages of 12 and 52, a woman who doesn't have kids will have about 480 periods. The figure will be less for those who have pregnancies, and plenty of other factors affect this too, such as the age you reach puberty and the menopause, and what contraceptives you use.
  • Buy 22 tampons or pads each month. The Absorbent Hygiene Products Manufacturers Association (AHPMA) estimates you'll use an average of 22 tampons or pads each month you have a period.

This means if you don't have children, you could use around 10,500 sanitary products in your lifetime. That's a very rough average of course – some estimates are higher, there are a number of reasons it may be less – but it gives an idea so you can work out how much you can save.

What does Tesco say?

Tesco told us there had been significant increases to the production cost of the maxi towels, and it had taken on these costs where possible. A spokesperson added: "We know that the cost of buying essential period products can be a real struggle for many people, so we work hard with our suppliers to make these products affordable."

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