How to Clean a Reusable Menstrual Cup
Once you get started with a reusable menstrual cup, you’ll want to clean it. Cleaning ranges from a quick rinse, special washes and even sanitizing. Technique varies throughout your cycle, in public bathrooms and at the end of your cycle. How to you clean a reusable menstrual cup? Here’s how.
You clean a reusable menstrual cup much in the same way you clean most other things. By washing it. While there are different methods and way to clean different parts, even sterilizing at the end of your cycle, the basics are easy.
Things to remember. It’s important to use cup-safe cleaner and avoid products that are not recommended by the manufacturer like non-water based lubricant.
There are many parts to a reusable menstrual cup and each portion needs it’s own care. The holes under the rim, the stem and even the depth of the cup itself. Making sure to examine your cup for wear and defects continuously is important, and proper care will help keep it in it’s best shape for years!
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Regular menstrual cup care basics
When using your reusable menstrual cup, it’s always important to start with clean hands. While the vagina is a self-cleaning oven, your hands are a breeding grounds for germs. These germs certainly don’t belong in your vagina, and a clean cup is a healthy cup.
Cup-specific wash, or wash that does not contain fragrance, oil or other chemicals is recommended.
General cup washing is completed under running warm water with the recommended soap. Some people swear by a cold rinse first, to avoid staining, followed by a warm wash. I warm wash and haven’t noticed any staining, but if certainly wouldn’t hurt to try the pre-rinse in cold.
Generally, you clean a reusable menstrual cup when you take it out by washing with cup cleaner. However, this isn’t always necessary or possible.
Clean a reusable menstrual cup out in public
If you find yourself in a public restroom, without your bottle of cleaner, most cup companies recommend washing your hands thoroughly and emptying your cup, possibly even patting dry with paper, and then reinserting. You can wash it at your next opportunity an as long as your hands are clean, your cup should be okay until it’s next wash.
Generally cup washes come in large bottles. You could always transfer some wash into a travel bottle for your purse, backpack or bag if it’s a must-have item for your routine.
I personally try to find a stall with a sink and give it a rinse under warm water, if I trust the water source, but do reinsert even with a little blood remaining without issue if the need arises. Especially if no sink is available.
It’s just going to get more blood in it anyway…
If you are against reinserting a cup that has not been thoroughly washed, you can carry two cups and alternate. Many companies recommend wearing the cup for up to 12 hours so depending on your flow, cup size and time during your cycle, you may not need to empty it at all.
Air holes in your menstrual cup need to be cleaned
If you look closely at your reusable menstrual cup, you’ll find several holes under the rim. Maybe there’s a hole-less cup out there, but I haven’t come across it yet. Why holes? These holes are important for creating a seal and require proper care. You can clean these by running under warm water and rubbing with your fingers. Stretching the holes a bit to get around the edges.
If this method does not remove all of the bits, you can soak the cup or use a soft toothbrush made specifically for menstrual cup hole cleaning. Do not use the same toothbrush you use for anything else.
If you are still out of luck, you can use a toothpick or something that won’t poke your reusable menstrual cup for cleaning. Generally speaking, anything sharp that can create new holes isn’t a good tool.
Lunette cup recommends filling the cup with water and then compressing to shoot the water through the holes. I lack the coordination required for this…so I stick to rubbing under water.
Sterilizing after cycle & storage
Many menstruating uterus-owners clean their cups differently. Some sanitize several times throughout use, others just at the end of their cycle before storage and some do this occasionally.
While you should check with your individual cup company, many cup companies recommend sanitizing your reusable menstrual cup in boiling water. Yes, boiling water. The Diva Cup recommends sanitizing by submerging in boiling water for 5-10 minutes with plenty of water. You wouldn’t want the cup to touch the bottom of the pan and need to watch it for the whole process.
The time to check your e-mail is not directly after dropping your $30 menstrual cup into a sauce pan at full-boil. The pan should also be uncovered.
Remove the cup carefully and dry. Then, store in a clean and dry place. Many cups come with a cloth bag that is perfect for storage. Think breathable. Don’t store in an air-tight container that could cause condensation, mold, fungus or bacteria to develop.
Reusable menstrual cup cleaners
Chemical cleaners vary. While the Diva Cup says to never use cleaners like vinegar or alcohol, this information varies vastly between companies.
The lunette website says to wipe down the cup with alcohol after each cycle. In addition, the Lunette cup says to use lemon juice to wipe the cup or soak to remove odor and 3% peroxide to remove stains. (1)
With a fast google, it seems as though the general consensus is that alcohol will not decompose or melt silicone, but the care is up to you. I personally am not a fan of using alcohol on my cup, but it’s good to know that some companies recommend it if the need should arise.
Reusable menstrual cup washes have become plentiful. Many cup companies offer their own and if you are unable to find this cleaner locally, there are many available on Amazon.
Sex toy cleaner is often recommended. This really depends on the ingredients. Some sex toy cleaners are not meant just for vagina use only toys and may contain ingredients to kill bacteria that are not deemed cup-safe.
My best advice? Check individual cup recommendations to make sure you don’t damange the cup and speed up decomposition. To me, they’re all made of silicone and I don’t understand how care instructions can be so different…but they are!
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