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Incontinence products buying guide

Compare pads, liners and absorbent underwear.

An estimated 13 million Americans struggle with incontinence each year, with many ignoring their symptoms. The right incontinence products can offer you the confidence to comfortably go about your daily life.

We compared a wide range of incontinence products, from pads to undergarments. Plus, a closer look at costs, absorbency levels and disposal techniques.

What are incontinence products?

Incontinence products can help you manage accidental or involuntary bladder or bowel problems. They can protect your clothing, furniture or bedding and come in numerous forms, including liners, pads, underwear and diapers.

Incontinence product costs

Individual incontinence products are around 10 cents to $3 per product, but the costs add up quickly if you wear multiple products per day for an extended time. Discounted and subsidized products may be available, and some incontinence products are covered by insurance. Medicaid covers incontinence products in most states, but check with your state Medicaid office to make sure.

All Medicaid plans require your doctor to fill out paperwork confirming you are in need of incontinence products. From there, the specific products covered by Medicaid varies by state. Call your healthcare provider to confirm what your plan allows.

What types are available?

The right type of incontinence product will often depend on comfort and how much absorption you require. Some products are for short-term use to help people recovering from medical procedures, while others are for longterm use.

There are three main types of wearable incontinence products.

  • Pads. Pads are available in disposable and reusable styles and come in a large range of sizes. Larger pads tend to be more absorbent but need to fit snugly to avoid leakage. While disposable pads offer convenience, they can be expensive if used often over an extended period.
  • Liners. Liners are best suited for those with a light flow or leakage. They tend to be thin and discreet and are not visible under clothing.
  • Undergarments. These can come in the form of adult diapers, underwear or underpants. Undergarments are geared toward heavy leakage and can be disposable or washable. They’re also ideal for sleeping when bladder control is often reduced.

How to compare incontinence products

The right incontinence product will depend on how much absorption is needed, as well as your individual preferences and needs. When comparing incontinence products, consider:

  • Fit. The fit is essential. If it’s too small, your garment might ride up and leave cracks for leakage. If it’s too big and baggy, it may not create a tight seal.
  • Size. Sizes like “small,” “medium” or “large” are not consistent across different brands, so read the packaging for specific measurements. Usually, long liners are about one to three inches longer than regular liners, though you’ll get the same amount of absorbency.
  • Absorbency. Products with greater absorbency tend to cost more. If you know you need maximum absorption, look for a brand’s most absorbent product. Brands typically have their own systems of defining leakage rates and flows, making it hard to compare products across brands. It may be a case of trial and error, but you can start by reading customer reviews and listening to the advice of medical practitioners.
  • Odor control. Typically, products with greater absorbency offer more odor control. Some manufacturers claim to negate smells by drying out leakages, balancing pH measurements or adding fragrance. Note that products with added fragrance could cause irritation if you have sensitive skin.
  • Appearance. This often comes down to thickness. The thicker a product is, the less discreet it tends to feel. But thicker products offer more absorbency. You may have to try a few brands before you find the right balance.

Additional factors to think about:

  • Day or night. Bladder and bowel control are often reduced at night. You might find you need to wear more absorbent undergarments or pads at night, even if you would usually use liners during the day.
  • Comfort. Absorption ultimately equals comfort. The closer you can get to a dry feeling post-leak, the more comfortable your incontinence product will feel.
  • Washable. Some incontinence products are washable and can be reused. If incontinence is an ongoing struggle or you’re concerned about the environmental impact of single-use products, consider trying a washable and reusable product.
  • Gender. Some products are unisex while others have gender-specific designs to match the contours of male or female bodies. Ultimately, the right choice for you comes down to what fits your body best.
  • Tabs. Undergarments often include tabs to help fasten the garment to your body. Look for tabs that are easy to use yet strong and secure when fastened.

Different levels of absorbency

  • Thin: The least amount of coverage, this product will keep you covered when it comes to very light leakage.
  • Moderate: If you experience more than light droplets —but still have some control over your bladder — consider moderate coverage.
  • Heavy: Go with heavy if you do not have control over your bladder and experience ongoing, daily leaking. These pads are the longest designs and offer the most absorbency.

Compare some of the best incontinence products

NameAvg. price
TypePack sizeAbsorbency level claimPurchase
Poise Incontinence Pads$29.16Pads906/6Buy now
Depend Incontinence Guards for Men$22.67Pads104MaximumBuy now
Tena Incontinence Liners for Women$19.88Liners1761/6Buy now
Prevail Extra Absorbency Incontinence Underwear$44.20Underwear56ExtraBuy now
RMS Ultra Soft 4-Layer Washable Incontinence Bed Underpads$19.97Bed pads34 layers of protectionBuy now
Attends Advanced Briefs $45.75Diapers962/4Buy now
Data obtained April 2021. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

How did we choose these products?

We compared some of the most popular products currently available, factoring in our own online research and third-party product reviews to create our list of products.

Nonwearable incontinence products to use at home

Incontinence can be an around-the-clock issue. There are several nonwearable products that can help combat incontinence during times of inactivity.

Nonwearable incontinence products include the following:

  • Bed pads. You can use pads just about anywhere, including on chairs, couches, beds or the floor. They’re absorbent mats that come in a variety of sizes and you can place them in convenient locations around the home.
  • Mattress cover. Mattress covers wrap around your entire mattress and are typically waterproof, hypoallergenic and odor-resistant.
  • Bedpans. Bedpans are typically for people who are immobile or bedridden and are often used in hospitals or care homes.

3 tips for using incontinence products

A few pointers to help make your experience as comfortable and effective as possible:

  1. See a doctor. If you have continence issues, discuss it with your doctor. They can provide you with advice regarding the suitability of different incontinence products and may be able to give you some free sample products.
  2. Try new products at home. It can be hard to tell if a product will work for you or if it’s the right size until you try it. If you’re concerned about leaking, try the product at home first.
  3. Combine wearable and nonwearable products. If you don’t like wearing wearable products all the time, consider using a mix of protective pads on furniture at home and wearables when you leave the house.

Bottom line

There are a variety of incontinence products available, so it can take some trial and error to find the best fit for you and your specific needs. If you’re not sure where to begin, talk with your doctor or medical professional and check out online reviews to see what other users have to say.

Frequently asked questions

How can I get Medicare to cover incontinence products?

Most Medicare plans don’t cover incontinence products unless you have supplemental insurance. Medicaid, on the other hand, typically does cover incontinence products.

How often do you need to change incontinence pads?

If you wear an incontinence pad regularly, you may need to change it four to six times per day. Change incontinence products frequently to prevent health issues such as rashes and infection.

How do I dispose of incontinence pads?

Incontinence pads can go directly in your regular trash can, but you may want to put them inside a small bag first to help control odors. Never flush these products down the toilet.

How do I clean up after a leak?

Use skincare wipes or cleansers to clean up after a leak. You can find plenty of soft, gentle options that won’t cause chaffing and offer soothing ingredients like aloe vera.

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