Question: What Does the Phrase "On the Rag" Mean?
The phrase “on the rag” originated sometime during the late 19th
to early 20th
century. When a woman was menstruating, she was “on the rag,” a phrase that literally described the way women of the day protected themselves from accidents during menstruation. Each woman had a supply of rags for specific use during menstruation. Women would layer rags together until they were sufficiently thick, then use pins to attach the rags to their panties. After each use, the women would wash the rags and hang them out to dry. Each woman had a special place (usually a bag in her underwear drawer) where she kept her rags for the next time she menstruated.
News November 1997; The Museum of Menstruation (MUM); http://www.mum.org/olnews43.htm; accessed 04/25/08.