I’d say the single biggest thing that stops people from using a menstrual cup is the “ick” factor. For one thing, we’ve kind of been socialised to find periods gross, so being up close and personal with your blood might make you uncomfortable. Then, of course, there’s the concern about something that stays inside of you for 8 hours being reused.
For a lot of people, that just doesn’t sit right. It gives them the “ick”. And, as someone who took nearly a year to pluck up the courage to try a cup, I totally get it.
However, menstrual cups aren’t unsanitary. At least not when you show them the proper care and affection those little silicone beauties deserve. When properly washed and sanitised, you’ve likely got no more to worry about than with traditional internal products such as tampons.
So, as a part of my never-ending crusade to encourage anyone with a period to try out a menstrual cup and see if it suits them, I thought it was time to chat about some of my ultimate menstrual cup care tips. Let’s cover all things cleaning, sanitising and storing, shall we?
Choosing the right cup: Material matters
Unlike disposable pads and tampons, the material that any reputable cup is made from is what allows it to be reused again and again safely: Medical grade silicone.
Not only does it mean the cup maintains its structural integrity for years (most can last 5 or more!), but it also doesn’t harbour bacteria to the same extent as more porous materials.
Sanitising vs washing: How often should you clean your menstrual cup?
Boring disclaimer time: Always read the manufacturer’s recommendations for caring for your cup to ensure that your cleaning routine is as hygienic as possible without damaging the product. However, a lot of these instructions will look very similar.
Usually, they make a distinction between washing your cup and sanitising it.
When you first receive your cup and between periods, it should be properly sanitised so that it remains hygienic.
Between inserting the cup (within the same period), the cup should be washed but does not necessarily need to be sanitised.
How to wash a menstrual cup
As I said, your cup should definitely be washed every time you take it out.
This process usually takes less than a minute at your bathroom sink. First, rise it under cold water,to help prevent staining. Then, simply wash it with unscented soap. Make sure to get inside and outside of the cup, as well as gently pulling open the suction holes to ensure they are thoroughly rinsed.
If you’re out and about and can’t do all of the above, rinse your cup with a bottle of water over the toilet and dry it with tissue before re-inserting. Then, wash the cup when you get home.
How to sanitise a menstrual cup
When it comes to sanitising your cup when you first receive it or between periods,the process is a bit more thorough. There are two methods that most people use.
Method 1: Boiling
The method that I would most recommend for sanitising your cup is boiling. It’s easy. It’s more or less free. And it keeps your cup squeaky clean and safe to use.
It really is as simple as it sounds: Pop your cup in a pan of water and boil it for around 5 minutes. I personally have a dedicated miniature pan that I picked up in the camping section of my local Pound Land which, as well as being pretty freaking adorable, makes me feel less worried that I’ll end up boiling my potatoes in the same pan as a menstrual cup.
Once you’ve boiled it, simply remove the cup from the water and pop it in a bag to keep it clean until next use. I’ve heard a few people recommend these beauty blender holders for cups, since they’re lined with towelling to soak up any water after washing and have ventilation to keep things fresh.
Method 2: Sterilising fluid
Listen, I get it. Not everybody can just rock up into their kitchen and boil a cup. Maybe you live with other people and it’s just not an option.
In this situation, you can switch out boiling water for sterilising fluid. You know the stuff that is used to sanitise baby’s dummies? Yep, that!
It usually comes as either a tablet which you dissolve in water or as a bottle of pre-made liquid. Submerge the cup in the fluid, leave it for the amount of time recommended by the brand and you’re good to go!
It’s worth mentioning that this is certainly not the most eco-friendly option. Not only does it mean more physical waste from packaging, but these fluids often have labels on them declaring them harmful to marine life if not disposed of properly.
So, where possible, avoid them.
How to remove stains from your menstrual cup
Listen, your cup is going to stain. It’s sitting inside of your body for up to 8 hours a day, potentially for 7 days in a row. It’s bound to end up a little bit brown in places. That does not mean that it’s not sanitary!
However, to try and prevent staining, wash your cup with cold water where possible. The warmer temperatures can encourage stains to set into the silicone. On top of that, give it a good scrub at the end of every cycle. Again, this is totally not “necessary” if you’re sanitising it, but using a rougher cloth and some unscented soap can help to prevent and remove some staining.
Aside from that, I’ve heard about using everything from vinegar to baking soda to remove stains on your menstrual cup. I wouldn’t recommend any of these methods since they can damage the silicone and deteriorate the quality of your cup.
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For me, having a cup really has made my period so much more manageable. Whilst the cleaning process may seem intense to think about, it really is a one-minute job every time you remove your cup and then 5 minutes at the end of your period. Simple!
If you have any questions at all about caring for a menstrual cup, drop them below or slide into my DMs. And, if you’re thinking about making the switch, check out my blog post where I answer all the questions you might have!