How To Clean A Menstrual Cup
If you care for your menstrual cup, and store it properly, your cup could last up to 10 years, thus saving you more money, and creating less waste for our planet. It will also continue to be safe for you and your body to use.
Just follow these cleaning steps on how to clean a menstrual cup, for before, during, and after your period.
The first time you use your menstrual cup
It's exciting when your first menstrual cup arrives, and you're eager to use it. You will need to however, first sterilize the menstrual cup before you use it.
Each menstrual cup brand will have their own specific instructions on how to sterilize their cups, but generally, you can follow these guidelines.
- Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, and place your menstrual cup in the pot.
- Try to make sure the menstrual cup is not touching the sides, or the base of the pot (where it could melt or burn). Ideally you could even put the little cup inside a whisk to sit in the pot!
- Let the water boil for another 2-10 minutes depending on the specific brand. Do not leave it unattended!
- Allow the water to cool down before removing your cup from the pot.
- Allow the menstrual cup to air dry. Try not to dry it in direct sunlight as this can discolor your cup.
Alternatively, some menstrual cup brands will come with a little microwavable silicon container that you can sterilize your cup in. You can also get these containers where you place your cup in and pour boiling water over it. Just be super careful with the water!
During Your Period
Always make sure your hands are clean before inserting and after removing the menstrual cup.
Silicone is not a material that harbours bacteria so you don’t need to disinfect the menstrual cup each time you empty it, but you should be rinsing it off after emptying the cup. There is no need to use fragranced, menstrual cup soap, or anti-bacterial soaps as this may alter the pH of your vagina or leave a sticky or powdery film on your cup. Warm, clean water is best.
If you are using a public restroom, or unable to rinse the menstrual cup, then first make sure your hands are clean before entering the stall, empty the cup into the toilet, and then use clean tissue paper to clean the cup as best as you can.
At the next convenient time, clean the cup using warm water during your shower, or in the basin.
Make sure you rinse the cup off properly at least every 12 hours, so a minimum of twice a day.
If you are traveling or camping, then make sure the water you use to clean the menstrual cup, is safe and clean. If the water is clean enough to brush your teeth, then it’s clean enough for your cup!
After Your Period, Menstrual Cup Cleaning
Wash your menstrual cup as per above, and then disinfect it before storing the cup for your next period. To disinfect, immerse the cup in a pot of clean water. You may want to have a designated pot for this! Boil on the stove for a minimum of 3 minutes, or according to the instructions for your menstrual cup. Make sure the cup stays floating in the middle of the pot, as the sides of the pot will be hot and may melt or damage your cup.
Alternatively, you can microwave your menstrual cup in a microwavable container filled with water. Again, read the instructions that came with your menstrual cup on how to sterilize menstrual cup in microwave.
Storing Your Menstrual Cup
After properly cleaning your cup, make sure you let it air dry before storing it in your carrying pouch. Ideally this should be a natural cotton pouch to allow ventilation. Most menstrual cups come with a dedicated pouch when you purchase them, or you can order some super cute designs on etsy.
Do not store your cup in a plastic bag or airtight container as moisture will accumulate and with moisture comes bacteria.
Odor or Discoloration
There shouldn’t be any odor from your menstrual cup as silicone is odor-free, just make sure you’ve cleaned it properly (check under the rim etc.). If there is a persistent odor and you cannot find the source and elimate the smell, then you may want to discard the cup.
Discoloration may occur over time, just like with any product that is used regularly. Make sure it is not kept in direct sunlight over long periods of time as this may cause discoloration. As long as there is no damage to the menstrual cup, discoloration will not affect its use.
Disposing Your Menstrual Cup
Most menstrual cups are made out of silicone which is not "100% natural" material like rubber. However, food-grade, medical-grade silicone is a non-toxic polymer mostly made out of silica (sand). It will not leach or off-gas hazardous chemicals despite freezing or high temperatures, which means it is safer for the environment and can be disposed of in your normal trash or buried in your garden.
You could also try recycling, and check your local companies if they can take and recycle the cups. Check with a hospital to see how they recycle or dispose of medical-grade silicone, or even your local sex shop!
A Clean Cup, A Cleaner Me!
By making sure you clean, care, and store your menstrual cup properly, you will ensure that you use your menstrual cup to its full potential, as an eco-friendly, affordable, convenient and safe product for you and your body to use.
If you follow the instructions from your menstrual cup brand, and follow these general guidelines on how to clean a menstrual cup, your cup should be able to last you for years!