Cleaning And Care

NEWS:  I now sell menstrual cups at my new store:

www.zanashop.com

Every menstrual cup company has their own set of recommendations and no-no’s for cleaning and care of your cup.  And a lot of women have different opinions on the matter too.  However, there are some cleaning methods that are universally agreed to be safe by pretty much everyone, so I’m going to put them here.

Storage:

Never store your menstrual cup in a plastic bag, or a sealed air-tight container.  This will cause mold.  The safest thing to store you menstrual cup in, is a clean cloth sack.  This will allow airflow, while keeping your cup safe and clean all month.  Most menstrual cups come with their own cloth drawstring pouch to store them in.

Cleaning:

There are 2 basic cleaning rituals for a menstrual cup:

1– Daily cleaning (you do this whenever you empty your cup).
2– Sterilizing ( you do this once a month, either right before you use your cup, or at the end of your period, before you store your cup away).

 

Daily Cleaning:

For this, some women choose to rinse only with plain water each time they empty their cup.  This is a good suggestion if you are in a public restroom, because you can simply bring some bottled water with you in your purse, to rinse your cup privately in the stall.  Others feel better if they use some kind of soap for a good cleaning.  If you chose to use a soap, make sure it is mild and perfume free.  Or even ph balanced, if you like.  Basically, any of the following will work, and if you only use it for washing your cup, one bottle or bar can last for a year, or even longer:

* A store-bought bar of soap that is mild and fragrance free / unscented.

* A store-bought feminine wash that was meant to be safe for use on the genitals.

* A wash made by a menstrual cup manufacturer.

Many companies do not recommend using a regular or scented soap, because the perfume can cling to the cup and irritate you inside.  Also, the residue from regular soap is difficult to wash away, and can also irritate you.

Sterilizing:

Most women do this once a month, as suggested by many menstrual cup companies.  Some will do it on the day their period starts, right before they put their cup in.  Others feel that its less hassle to sterilize their cup as soon as their period is over, so it will be instantly ready to use when their next cycle begins.  For this, you can do one of the following:

* Boil your menstrual cup for the amount of time recommended by your cup manufacturer.  Because each company’s cup material is slightly different, these times may vary.   Some companies (such as Keeper) do not recommend boiling at all.  If your cup manufacturer approves– use a deep, clean pot filled with water so the cup will float, and make sure the water is boiling before you put the cup in.  Remove the cup immediately after the approved amount of time has passed.

* If you cannot boil your cup for any reason, some companies approve the use of running alcohol for sterilization (again, check the manufacturer’s website).  If your cup manufacturer approves, you can simply wet a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) and rub it all over your cup, inside and out.  Allow your cup to air dry COMPLETELY.  Then  rinse it very well with water, to remove any possible residue.  To quote a medical silicone expert I conversed with– as long as rubbing alcohol is allowed time to evaporate away, it is perfectly safe to use on silicone.

For these reasons, DO NOT soak your cup in a container of alcohol.  Not even diluted.  Full strength, soaking wastes a lot of alcohol, and can damage the cup.  Diluted, it will take too long, and may not sterilize completely.

The cotton ball method is the fastest, easiest, cheapest, most convenient and effective way.

For more information on other cleaning methods, here is the link to a post I did in the LiveJournal community, where I wrote a letter to a medical silicone expert (who is not involved in menstrual cup manufacturing), asking which cleaning/sterilizing products are safe for silicone, and which ones are not:

http://community.livejournal.com/menstrual_cups/1649971.html

*  As I said above, because of each company’s unique material, some companies ( like Keeper) do not recommend boiling your cup, or using other solutions.  Instead, they recommend giving the cup a bath in a solution of vinegar and water (10% vinegar, 90% water).  However, they only recommend bathing your cup in this solution for a couple of minutes.  Again, do not soak your cup in this for prolonged periods of time.  Rinse well when done.

* Other companies (such as LadyCup) also recommend the use of Milton sterilization tablets on their product.  Please use as directed.

49 Comments

  1. Belleama said,

    Are the cleaning requirements different for the MeLuna since it is not silicone?

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      They’re pretty much the same– boil, and use mild soap for washing. Avoid harsh cleaning chemicals. I never saw anything on the silicone cups webpages about sunlight, but Meluna does say that UV rays can damage the material.

  2. melluv said,

    I really liked your suggestion of the rubbing alcohol as an alternative method of sterilization -the boiling thing just wasn’t going to work for me! What I’ve found to be very convenient are the prepackaged alcohol wipes for first aid kits -same 70% isopropyl alcohol, on a pre-moistened swab. They come in boxes of about 100, are available at the pharmacy or grocery store, and are pretty cheap.

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      That’s a great idea! Just always rinse off the alcohol residue before using your cup. Also make sure you get the wipes that are plain alcohol. If they have skin-soothing lotions or aloe in them, that could be hard to wash off and mess with your ph levels (a common problem with certain baby wipes, along with perfumes). Lunette does sell wipes like this, so I guess its a very convenient idea! And less messy than using the bottle and cotton ball :) .

  3. Karley said,

    are there any kind of wipes i can buy instore like at my local walmart or walgreens to clean my diva cup with because ive been told not 2 use baby wipes

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      Its true, baby wipes are not always a good idea, because even if they don’t have perfume, they still almost always have lotions, oils, and other things that really are not good to have inside the vagina.

      If the wipes are just for cleaning ont he go, then you actually don’t have to buy any. You could just take some paper towels, wet them int he sink, ring them out, and the fold them and stick them into a plastic zip bag. You can keep that in your pocket when you are out and about. And of coruse you won’t have to worry about your wipes havign anything on them that shoudl not go in your body. Jsut make sure you get the sturdy, durable kind of paper towels, you don’t want them to shred.

      If you want disinfecting wipes… Unless you are going to buy Lunette wipes (which are specially made to be used on soemthing that will be going int he vagina), you are actually probably better off using plain paper towels with water. Because other brands of wipes may contain things like lotions that soften the skin, which should not go inside you. Or other cleaning agents that shouldn’t…

      Hope that helps,

      M

  4. bitsy said,

    So, I’ve been using mild, natural hand soaps to wash my cups, and then I realized… a lot of them either have natural oils in them, or are actually oil-based. Bars of castile soap can be made with just oil, water, and lye; liquid soaps often start with “saponified oils” of this and that.

    I looked at the Diva Wash in the store, but I didn’t love the idea of washing my cup with something entirely made out of ingredients I’d never heard of before and couldn’t spell. If I’m not keen on unknown chemicals on my hands, why would I want to use them to clean my cup? But if my hand soaps are all oil-based, does that make them bad for the silicone?

    My guess (my hope) is that because, unlike lubricants, you rinse off soaps, it would be ok, but… do you have any information about this?

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      I do know that Divawash, Lunette wash and Ladycup’s washes are made from natural and renewable sources. But the reason the contents have fancy-sounding names, is because makers often print the traditional scientific name for for very simple ingredients, so people won’t know what they are, and won’t be able to copy the mixture and make it for themselves.

      As an example you might see in food: “saccharum officinarum” sounds pretty scary, but its really just the scientific name for sugar cane. :) I’ve looked up some of the Divawash ingredients and much of it is just basic liquid soap components, that almost every soap maker in the world uses– only on a more mild scale, to reduce residue and protect our ph. With some citrus thrown in. It smells quite a bit like oranges, which are included in a lot of degreasing household cleaners, because they naturally kill bacteria and remove scum and residue). But its just the orange extract, without the natural sugars, since sugar can cause yeast infections. Smart move on their part.

      Basically, the companies suggest mild, perfume-free soaps. I have found that baby soaps and shampoos fit the bill quite well (such as Johnson’s). Babies are sensitive to harsh soaps and perfumes, so it will be down to a minimum in baby products. Just don’t get anything that says “with lotion added” or “with extra moisture” because that’s a sign that lotions and extra oils will be added.

      As for what little of those components already exists in most soaps– again, unless they’ve added extra, its probably going to be so little that the soap will wash it off.

      • Hannah said,

        what about scented and unscented castile shop ? ( Dr. Bronners ) can i use them on my cup ?

      • menstrualcupinfo said,

        I’m actually not sure about that kind of soap. With any soap used on a cup though, its probably better to get unscented.

  5. bitsy said,

    Thanks for the info! I suspected it would rinse off.

    One thing I’ve learned from Terressentials.com is that even a lot of natural-sounding ingredients have been extracted and processed in such a way that they’re not even close to the natural thing anymore. (And there’s absolutely no U.S. law governing what goes into “organic” body products, unless they’re USDA Certified Organic.)

    I think I’ll go ahead and use the Terressentials citrus hand wash, and just make sure I rinse well (as always). Thanks again.

  6. Natalie said,

    What is the cleaning procedure before the first use? Is it the same as the once a month sterilization?

    Just got my first Diva Cup and I want to do a couple of practice insertions and removals before my next period.

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      Pretty much yes, the same as the regular monthly sterilization. :)

  7. Allie said,

    So… I dropped my cup in the toilet. :( The Diva cup site says to replace it… Seriously? Why can’t I just boil it? Do you really think I need to not use the cup anymore? Of course, I washed it thoroughly (along with my hands) and also boiled it. Why would that not be enough? I don’t want to take any chances with cleanliness… but I also don’t want to have to shell out more money for something that should wash up pretty well. What do you think?

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      From what I know, the reason the companies suggest replacing the cup, is because if anyone didn’t clean it good enough, and they developed a problem after re-using a cup they dropped in a toilet, the company could get sued for recommending it. So they will only recommend replacing the cup. Basically, if you choose to just disinfect it and use it again, it would be an individual choice. :)

  8. josh9421 said,

    I just purchased a Fleurcup, and I’ve been reading the instructions which says you need to boil it. However, after browsing around on a couple of forums, a lot of people say they don’t boil their cups at all, and that’s it’s pretty much unnecessary. Is this true? Especially considering you shouldn’t even boil some cups at all – and that’s fine – I figured they might be right.

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      Most companies started out suggesting the cup be boiled, but today, as you browse the manufacturer websites, you will see fewer and fewer who still suggest boiling. Many people manage with just soap and water. Or rinsing in water/vinegar solutions for about a minute only (10% vinegar, 90% water), which is what Keeper suggests. The other thing is, they now have all these other methods, like Lunette wipes, or the wipes by Ladycup. And some people just soak a ball of cotton with rubbing alcohol and swab the cup all over and let it dry, then rinse.

      But NEVER soak your cup in any solution for a long time, it can ruin it. Again, just swab it with a cotton ball, dry, and rinse.

      There are also Milton sterilizing tablets, and bottle nipple sterilizers, etc. Just rinse after. There are so many ways now, and nobody has really been having problems with just soap and water. So I am noticing that the boiling practice is starting to get a little “outdated” you could say… I guess it just depends from one company to another, what they recommend.

  9. Victoria Phibes said,

    Just had an email from Lunette regarding hydrogen peroxide usage. They say that it is all right to put the cup in hydrogen peroxide to remove stains on it. I have used this on my three-year-old Lunette and it works just fine.

  10. theresa said,

    is it possible to clean cups with a cleanser made for sex toys?

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      Many people do, and actually sex toy cleaner is very close in formula to menstrual cup cleaners.

  11. Victoria Phibes said,

    Another thing I’ve tried with my Lunette (that works best of all, believe it or not!), is to use denture cleanser tablets. Find a 10 oz. coffee cup, fill it with very warm water, dunk your (pre-rinsed) menstrual cup into the water and then drop two denture cleanser tablets into the water. Soak for 20 minutes and rinse. You wouldn’t BELIEVE how clean this gets a clear cup!

  12. liatcohen said,

    I just got a femmecup and they recommend boiling it. on some sites i saw that the pot has to be assigned to that exclusively. is that a cultural thing, or does stainless steel absorb stuff?

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      For some people it can be cultural. But honestly, in such cultures, it would be better to just sterilize with rubbing alcohol or Lunette wipes, because in their case, they really wouldn’t even want a menstrual cup (a bathroom item) in the kitchen at all.

      But even in cases where its not a cultural thing, companies still suggest a special pot, because residue from cooking, dish washing machines, detergent, or dish soap– it can get on your cup and cause irritation, or infection. There are plenty of people who use a regular pot just fine, but I would strongly advise washing that pot REALLY good with a mild soap first… And rinsing well, of course.

      • Maria said,

        I’ve been thinking about the “boiling issue” for a while… it is a tried and true sanitization procedure, and I can relate to the “cultural reasons” you mention. I’ve found a solution that works for me and might work well for others. I own a PORTABLE ELECTRIC GRILL, really small one, that I can store in the bathroom, along with a small deep pot that’s exclusive for my cup. Once a month I can boil it in total privacy, of course with the same caution you need with any other electric appliance…

  13. liatcohen said,

    thanks!

  14. Leila said,

    I have been using my medela microwave steriliation bags (they are made for breast pump tubing, which is silicone). They can be reused like 20 times each. Does anyone know of any reason this is not ok?

  15. Rosa said,

    Hi everyone! Well I’m just a noobie cause I just purchased my 1st ever L*nette menstrual cup. I have a (silly maybe? :)) doubt/question I hope someone can help me (I haven’t used the cup yet but my period is coming on a few days!): while boiling it, the fire is switched on or it’s already out of the stove just leaving it on (already/previously) boiled water for the recommended minutes? Thanks! :)

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      Hi Rosa,

      yes, the fire should be ON while you boil the cup. Put the water in the pot, wait until comes to a full rolling boil, then drop the cup in the water. Keep the fire on, for the recommended time of boiling. Then carefully remove the cup from the water. Turn off the fire, of course. Place the cup on a clean napkin to let it cool and dry, or you can run it under cold water to cool it faster. :)

  16. Sheri said,

    First of all, thank you so much for all the information you provide on YouTube and in your blog. Many years ago, I used the Instead cups until they became difficult to find at my local stores, so I switched back to tampons. Recently my daughter told me about the Diva Cup and because I was paying attention to the shelves, I see that my local drug store sells the Soft Cups. But I started reading about all the different brands of reusable cups, and I’m sold. I’d like to have a dedicated pot for disinfecting the cup and was wondering if using a hot pot would be acceptable (the type you might cook noodles in a college dorm). Most hot pots will hold 32 oz, but I didn’t know if that would be big enough. Lunette suggests using a small whisk which might help to keep it away from the element at the bottom. I figured I’d just store the “cleaning kit” under my bathroom sink. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  17. anonymous said,

    Do you feel that the NatraCare organic cotton wipes are okay for cleaning a Lunette cup in between removal and insertion instead of the Lunette wipes? I heard the Lunette wipes do have alcohol in them, and I do not care for that. If the NatraCare wipes are not okay, do you know another wipe that is? I have looked for personal female wipes, but they all say that the use is only for external use, and since the cup is a device worn internally, I am not too sure if it is okay to use those “external use” only wipes.

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      The Lunette wipes do have alcohol, but see the alcohol evaporates away. So basically, once it is dry, the alcohol is gone, its not there anymore.

      Other wipes usually are not recommended for cups, because they can contain other things that do not evaporate away, and should not go in the vagina. Like scent, oils, lotions, skin softeners, unsafe cleaning agents, etc.

      but of the cotton wipes are 100% cotton, and absolutely nothing else— then they should be ok to use if you just wet them with plain water.

      • anonymous said,

        The cotton wipes do actually contain other ingredients. I went ahead and ordered the Lunette wipes. I figured that is the best way to go considering they were made specifically by that company for their product. I have ordered a Lunette Aine cup model 1, Lunette wipes, and Lunette wash and simply cannot wait to try them out! I have always feared tampons and the risks, so the cup is wonderful! I must admit that I am very nervous, though. I have been reading info on your menstrual cup forum community and it has been so so so helpful. However, there are some horror stories in there as far as first time users go, and I am so afraid of complications and a lot of pain! We will see how it goes, though. Thank you so much for this blog and your menstrual cup forum community. They are SUCH a BIG help!!

  18. Christina Savitsky said,

    Munchkin offers a microwaveable sterilization bag for bottle nipples & breast milk pumping parts. I’m NOT a fan of having a pot specific for my cup, and living at 8500 feet above sea level waiting for that water to boil is time consuming! :P
    Since baby bottle nipples are often made of silicone I figured it’d be OK They’re cheap & don’t take up any extra space in my already crowded bathroom! :)

    http://www.munchkin.com/six-steam-guard-microwave-sterilizer-bags

  19. Kayla said,

    Hey ik u have already answered a question about store bought wipes but I am going camping this weekend with my parents n little sister in our RV and because of how the bathroom is set up I would have to go into where my parents sleep inorder to use the sink to wash my cup every time I change it so I was wondering if it is ok the use always feminine wipes on a diva cup since I won’t have direct access to a sink?

    • anonymous said,

      I personally would not use those, as they may have chemicals/oils/ingredients that can cause harm to the cup. Also, the ingredients may not be gently enough for the vaginal canal.

  20. Gabriella said,

    Would something like Summer’s Eve Cleansing Wash (http://summerseve.com/vcare/cleansing-wash) or Johnson’s Natural Baby Wash (http://www.johnsonsbaby.com/product/413) be okay to wash a menstrual cup?

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      Sounds fine as long as it has no oils, lotions or perfumes.

  21. Kara said,

    I have been reading about menstrual cups and was about to take the plunge, after using the disposable instead cups and liking the results. However, I got to thinking if you shouldn’t soak your cup, even in water, how is it that you can wear it in a moist environment for several days? Wouldn’t the cup begin to have the same problems as though you had soaked it?

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      You can soak your cup in plain water, that is fine (although it will not help anything). When I said “do not soak your cup” it basically means “do not soak it with any cleaning or disinfecting agents”. Such as rubbing alcohol, peroxide, vinegar, etc. If you use those things, it should only be a quick rinse. Or soak a cotton ball with it and rub it on the cup. Let it dry. Then rinse it with water. :)

  22. Juliana said,

    Several of my friends and I have been using menstrual cups since the early 80s. We live very active lifestyles, backpacking, cycling, travleing, etc. There have been many times when we didn’t have access to much water, so we wiped out the cups and rinsed with a few drops of bottled water. Also, I’m almost certain that none of us have ever gone to the trouble of boiling, disinfecting, or any fussy cleaning (other than a little soap or vinegar), and we’re all still healthy and strong, with healthy, robust, grown children.
    My point is that we tend to make too much of a fuss about all this cleaning. Yes, cleanliness is important, but we’ve taken it to the point of germaphobia. Our bodies are amazing things and can handle more than we give it credit for. Just use common sense, and spend more time having fun!

  23. chicagobears-jersey.com said,

    Hi there, I enjoy reading all of your article.

    I wanted to write a little comment to support you.

  24. LouMacJ said,

    I think this might be a silly question, but are alcohol hand gels the same as rubbing alcohol? I’m only asking because Feminine Wear sells it and I can’t work out of it’s just for cleaning the hands? Love your site, I was delighted to find so many women sharing the experience of cups. I’m trying my first one, a MeLuna. So far, so good!

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      No they are not the same thing. Please do not try to use alcohol hand gels on a menstrual cup. It is only for hands. It has added components that will leave residue on your cup (fragrance, lotions, skin softeners, and the components that cause it to form into a gel). Many of those things are ok to use on your hands, but NOT inside your body.

      Use plain rubbing alcohol on your cup. But never soak your cup in the alcohol, or any other sterilizing solution. A silicone expert told me that is bad for the silicone. Its much better to wet a cotton ball with the alcohol, then rub it all over the cup. Allow the cup to dry. It is the drying process that sanitizes it (the same rule with hand gels, so do not wipe it off, let it dry). Then you can rinse with water after it has dried, and use it.

  25. Georgia said,

    Hi I am getting a meluna cup in a few days and was wondering if I would e able to use the sterilising method by boiling water in a kettle and then putting it into a coffee mug?? Would that work??

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      You can also use rubbing alcohol. But don’t soak the cup in a pool of it, that wastes a lot and its not helpful. Its the DRYING process of the alcohol that allows alcohol to sterilize. Not the wet liquid. So just soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and rub it all over the surface of your cup, inside and out. Let it dry. and there you go, its done.

  26. SDB(@sgshell3) said,

    Someone above mentioned soaking with denture tablets. Is that okay?

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      I’m not sure if that would leave any kind of harmful residue or not… Sometimes things that can go in the mouth are still not safe for the vagina. For example sugar. I would say ask the company first.

  27. Tamar Harrington said,

    Has anyone heard of boiling water with antimicrobial herbs like chamomile, cardamom, sage, etc. and using the water for rinses when you empty your cup? I just saw a suggestion to do this recently. Looking at the comment about the Diva wash using orange extract instead of actual orange peel or pulp, though, makes me wonder about the sugar issue. Would boiling herbs in water introduce sugar to it? Has anyone tried this?

    • menstrualcupinfo said,

      Its probably better to just use plain clean water. Some herbs may be great for oral consumption, but not everything that goes in the mouth should go in the vagina (for example, sugar).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 103 other followers

%d bloggers like this: