Cleaning And Care
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.
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.
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).
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.
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:
* 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.