Caring for your Menstrual Cup
Keeping your Menstrual Cup clean and sanitised is key to the health of your cup and your vagina. It might seem like a bit to start with, but once you get the hang of keeping your cup clean it is easy-peasy.
Number 1 rule - always wash your hands well before touching your menstrual cup.
Cleaning it before use
When you first get your cup it needs to be properly sterilised. The best ways to sterilize your cup are the following:
- Fully submerge you cup in fresh water and boil for at least 5 minutes. You can do this in a saucepan or you can do this in the microwave.
If you are using a saucepan, to avoid forgetting about your cup and melting on the bottom of the pan, pop your cup inside an egg-whisk, set a timer, and then submerge in boiling water.
- Soak your menstrual cup in a sterilising solution such as Miltons Solution for 15 minutes. You can do this in a small cup or glass jar specifically set aside for caring for your menstrual cup. It needs to be fully submerged. Rinse with fresh water.
Once your cup is sterilised place it in your cotton storage bag or a clean, dry container like a glass jar or plastic box.
Cleaning your cup while you have your period
- Wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water and rinse well.
- Empty your cup into the toilet. Ideally every 4-8 hours*.
- Rinse with fresh cold water. This helps stop it becoming discoloured or start smelling.
- After rinsing in cold water, wash with hot water and a mild, perfume-free, oil-free soap, dedicated menstrual cup cleansing wash, or Apple Cider Vinegar to remove any bacteria from its surface. Ensure that the breathing holes are clear as well.
- Rinse thoroughly.
- Repeat this process each time your empty your cup.
If you’re out and about
- If you are out and about and do not have access to a sink use a small "squeezy" water bottle that you can squirt into your menstrual cup to rinse it out before re-insertion.
- If you do not have access to fresh water you can use antibacterial wipes to help remove bacteria before reinserting (we wouldn’t recommend this as a regular practice as the wipes aren’t very eco-friendly or full of very nice ingredients, but if you don’t have access to water then it’s an option as a one-off). If you do this, just make sure they they’re fragrance-free and alcohol-free, since those ingredients can be pretty annoying to your vagina.
Make sure you clean your cup thoroughly when you have access to fresh water again.
- If you use soap to clean your menstrual cup then you want a mild, unscented, oil-free and water-based. This is important because the wrong soap disrupt the bacteria and pH of your vagina, or irritate your vagina, which is sensitive to soap and perfumes. Pure unscented castile soap is a great option if you do want to use a liquid soap.
- It has been discovered that scrubbing your cup with a toothbrush and toothpaste will help remove bacteria. Make sure you rinse with fresh water thoroughly afterwards if you use this technique.
*Don’t use a menstrual cup for more than 12 hours at a time – it needs to be emptied and washed at least twice a day i.e. at least every 12 hours, but ideally every 4 to 8 hours
Cleaning your menstrual cup AFTER your period:
- Use cleaning brushes or a dedicated toothbrush to clean out the tiny breathing holes of the cup.
- Thoroughly clean your cup with vinegar, soap or if you prefer, you can sanitise your cup each month by either boiling or soak your cup in a sanitising solution like you used when you first go it.
- Dry your cup after sterilizing, sometimes a few hours in the sunshine is a great way to complete the cleaning.
- Once your cup is sterilised place it in your cotton storage bag or a clean, dry container like a glass jar or plastic box.
- If your cup begins to smell, please note it’s not because you are dirty or anything is wrong. To remove odours, we recommend you boil your cup for 20 minutes every time BEFORE and AFTER every cycle. Or soak your cup in lemon juice for 20 minutes and then thoroughly rinse in fresh water. Allow to dry in the sunshine if you can.
Image credit: My Cup NZ