One of the most beneficial things about menstrual cups is that they can last for years with proper care. Care that ensures its good condition for healthy and safe use.
You might be reading this if you just purchased your first menstrual cup or you are considering using it. One of the main concerns in the use of a menstrual cup might be how to clean it. Since they are reusable, you would want to make sure that they are properly cleaned. The following are the common questions on how to clean a menstrual cup.
How often should you boil your menstrual cup?
One of the best ways to properly clean your cup is by using boiling water to sanitize it. Putting a foreign object into your body exposes yourself to bacteria. Menstrual cups that are not properly cleaned can result in infections. Boiling your cup before and after the cycle, and washing it at the same time between uses will prevent bacteria from thriving.
Menstrual cups must be boiled twice a month, one from the start of your cycle and one when your period is over. Simply bring a pot of water to the stove to boil and put the cup inside the pot. There should be enough water to completely cover the cup. You can try the hack of putting your cup in the center of a whisk while boiling water to prevent it from touching the bottom of a pot. Make sure to stay close to the cup while it boils to avoid burning or ruining it. However, boiling water can’t be accessible at all times. And this gives us another alternative method.
It is also important to wash your hands before inserting or removing your cup as you may be more likely to get an infection from bacteria on your hands than the cup itself.
How do you steam a menstrual cup?
Steaming is another option in cleaning and keeping your cup from bacteria. While it is used to kill germs, it is the best way to sterilize silicone products, which is where menstrual cups are made of, a medical grade silicone. It is a hassle-free way that can remove 99.9% of germs from your menstrual cup. Steaming your cup has various advantages. For beginners, you don’t have to take your cookware to sterilize your cup. You can use a steamer with the appearance of a small humidifier or diffuser, which you can place in the corner of your bathroom. To use it, fill the steamer with 5ml of water and place the cup inside, cover it and push the on button. This time, you don’t have to worry about burning your cup if you forget the stove. The next time you get your period, put back the cup inside the steamer for another few more minutes.
Do you need to sterilize your menstrual cup?
Besides the boiled water method, sanitizing your menstrual cup is important. To sanitize your cup, you can use the following.
Autoclave. It is a great way to use when you happen to have one kicking around. You can set it to 121°C for 60 minutes, using a dry cycle run, or you can use it using the manufacturer’s instructions.
Breast pump steam bag. This handy tool is used to sanitize parts of breast pump equipment in the microwave, which can kill 99.9% of common bacteria and germs.
Menstrual cup steam sanitizer. You can find several cleaners specified for menstrual cups on the market. Beware that not all machines are made to the same standard. Since no organization checks the quality of such devices, be sure you’ve done your research, or they will damage your cup.
Do I have to wash my menstrual cup with soap?
Cleaning is a quick cleaning or rinsing of your cup when it’s empty. You can wipe or give it a quick rinse under water, or wash your menstrual cup with soap and water once a day. It is recommended to clean your menstrual cup with mild soap, unscented, oil-free, and water-based. It is important to take note of this because a wrong soap can coat the cup that is difficult to remove and can disrupt the bacteria and pH of the vagina and irritate it. The following are some examples.
- Cetaphil soap
- Dermaveen soap-free cleansing bar (AU)
- Dermeze soap free wash (AU)
- Liquid Neutrogena soap (US/CAN)
Sex toy cleaners are also safe to use for medical grade silicone and for intimate areas
Some brands that sell menstrual cup cleansing wash are
- DivaCup DivaWash
- Lunette Feelbetter Cupwash cleanser
- OrganiCup OrganiWash
- Pixie Menstrual Cup Wash
These products are specifically formulated to clean and protect menstrual cups to keep your vagina clean. You may also use cleaning wipes, which can be very useful when you have to clean it in a public bathroom if you are camping or traveling as you have to wash it with potable water only.
However, it is recommended that you must use an oil free soap because any remaining oil left on the cup may degrade or soften the silicone over a long period of use. It may lead to faster destruction of your cup.
While most people do not use soap and they just rinse it between use and only boil it after their cycle is finished. It depends on you if you want to use soap or just water because some people are overly sensitive to soap.
Will baking soda clean the menstrual cup?
Although several home cleaning products like castile soap, vinegar, and baking soda are amazing cleaning agents for your home, not for your menstrual cup. Even though they are eco-friendly, they are not recommended for cleaning a menstrual cup.
Can I sanitize my menstrual cup in the microwave?
Yes, you can sanitize the menstrual cup by putting it into the microwave for deep cleaning.
- Place the cup into a container safe for the microwave.
- Make sure that the cup is fully submerged.
- Do not cover the container.
- Place the microwave on the higher settings for 3-5 minutes.
- Let the container and water cool completely before removing the cup to avoid burns.
How do you deodorize a menstrual cup?
Your cup might start to smell if you don’t properly clean it. However, if it smells it does not mean it’s dirty. Our bodies are different, and so are our body odors. In the event, your cup is penetrated with a smell. You can boil your cup for 20 minutes before and after every cycle instead of 10 minutes.
You can use hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol by soaking it for one hour. For a more natural way, wash your cup in the water of any of these products – a spoonful of baking soda, a little white vinegar, or the juice of half a lemon. Take note not to mix any of the three of them together. Also, remember to boil your cup for 20 minutes after you soak it in any product you choose to remove all the residue.
In case of a fishy odor, do not put your cup or any internal content back on until the cause is fully treated. Remember not to use your cup in case of a vaginal infection or doubt of infection.
What is the best way to get rid of stains?
Although you have been sanitizing and cleaning your cup, it can undergo some color changes from use. Also, you may run into staining issues. To prevent staining, you should always wash your cup with cold water first before rinsing it in hot water. But if it is already tainted, let it rest under the sun for hours, or soak it in vinegar or lemon juice and boil it for 20 minutes.
Cleaning the air-holes
In cleaning the air holes, you have to fill the cup with water, then place your palm on it, turn it upside down, and squeeze. Once the water squirts out through the holes, they are directly cleaned. You can also clean it with a toothpick drenched in rubbing alcohol or a toothbrush. Avoid using sharp objects in cleaning such as needles or pins as they can damage it.
During travel or in nature
In situations like you are off to somewhere where the water supply is not to use or, make sure to bring with you bottled water to rinse off the menstrual cup. You can also pack a travel-sized version of your oil-free unscented soap. If you are hiking, pour the blood into a cathole like how you dispose of any organic waste. Use the water bottle to wash off the cup and wipe it with a clean tissue or wipes before reinserting it. Keep the cup sanitary when not in use by bringing your storage pouch.
Which is better, steaming or boiling your cup?
It does not matter which method you choose. It comes down to which is more convenient. There are two different things you should do to keep your menstrual cup clean. The first is to clean your cup between each use and sanitize your cup before and after your cycle.
When to throw out your cup?
Menstrual cups are not undestroyable. They are reusable for up to 10 years, but you may have to replace them earlier than that. You need to replace your menstrual cup if:
- There is physical damage, such as a crack or split.
- The cup becomes sticky to touch even after cleaning, or there is a chalky residue inside.
- It smells even you have tried all the methods mentioned
- A strange color develops. Fading is normal, but green is not.
What not to use to clean your menstrual cup
Do not put your menstrual cup in the dishwasher as it can be destroyed by chemicals, detergents, and residue from previous dishwashing. At the same time, silicone can be damaged by vinegar, tea tree oil, oil-based soap, baking soda, hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap, dishwashing soap, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, pre-moistened wipes, or harsh chemicals. If you feel any inflammation or irritation after inserting the cup, remove it immediately. It needs replacement if there are any signs of deterioration. Also, avoid using lubricant to insert cups as the ingredients can damage the silicone. You can use water to assist insertion.
Storing your menstrual cup
Menstrual cups must be stored in areas with good ventilation, such as the breathable pouches they often come with. Do not store them in plastic bags or plastic containers because there is no airflow. Put it in someplace that is clean and dry, such as an underwear drawer or dressing table drawer. Sterilize it after storage or before using it again, but this can be difficult when your menstrual cycle is irregular.
Among all the important methods are washing your hands and making sure your fingers are clean. Make sure to always boil your cup for 20 minutes before and after every cycle. Also, you have to wash it between uses. Others go to great lengths to ensure that their menstrual cup is as safe as possible to lower the risk of getting an infection. They use two cups, one will be what you are using while sterilizing the other one. You can swap them around the next time you need to empty your cup.
Hopefully, this helps you choose the right methods in your menstrual cup cleaning routine. Consider this guide and get out of the stress of washing, drying, and storing your menstrual cup.