Manual Pick: Disposable Underwear

by Cindy Julia Tobing
28th June 2024
In this edition of Manual Pick, we’re featuring something flimsy and awkward but still has its moments of practicality: disposable underwear.

What’s flimsy and awkward—and, quite frankly, can pass for a shower cap—but is still one of the most practical items you can easily grab at the nearest convenience store? Disposable underwear. 

Even with its laughable appearance, often bearing less than sophisticated designs like floral patterns or crescent shapes meant to improve the wearer’s mood (but failing spectacularly), disposable underwear has likely saved the day for many people at least once in their lives.

Picture this: you’re on a long overnight road trip to another city with luggage stuffed to the brim. As the uncomfortable feeling from a day of not changing starts to seep in, you remember your secret weapon: single-use underwear. Its usage is rarely appreciated, most likely because the act of throwing it out after a single use meant that it was not supposed to be memorable. Yet, the handy item might just be the ultimate travel hack that we never fully embrace.

Armed with utility applicable across sectors—hospitals, beauty spas, outdoor adventures—the non-woven underwear falls under everyday, banal things that one doesn’t think twice about but is always ready to serve its purpose. New moms also swear by its use (albeit one of a different style, with mesh netting and flexible banding tailored for postpartum life) as they sing praises for its comfortable and freeing feel. 

It may not be the ideal underwear, and it’s not supposed to. Data may point to the environmental impacts of this single-use item, even though some brands have made the switch from polypropylene material to viscose to be more biodegradable. Still, there’s an entertaining irony in using something decidedly unattractive yet has the power to save your day in more ways than one—and disposable underwear wears this badge proudly with a wink and smile.