How to Clean and Store a Menstrual Cup
Welcome to the wonderful world of menstrual cups! Whether you’re here to learn more about period cups before taking the leap or looking to brush up on some of your current skills, we’re here to help. After all, your safety and sanity are our top priorities, which is why we’ve pooled together all the latest and greatest from women all over to bring you some of the best information out there.
So, without further adieu, let’s learn how to clean and store a menstrual cup to help keep you safe and your cup lasting!
How to Clean a Menstrual Cup
One of the best features of a menstrual cup is that it is reusable - making them not only environmentally friendly but also budget-friendly. But, to make sure you are getting the most out of your period cup, you’ll need to brush up on some techniques of keeping it clean.
When it comes time, there are two distinct types of cleaning processes you’ll need to be mindful of with your period cup; sanitizing and cleaning. Let’s take a closer look into both to help settle any confusion.
Sanitizing Your Menstrual Cup Before First Use
When receiving your menstrual cup, you’ll want to make sure to sanitize it before you use it the first time. Your initial cleaning should be a two-step process as follows:
- Wash with mild soap (see directions below under “Cleaning”)
- Sanitize (see options listed below)
Sanitizing Method #1: Boiling Water
Put the cup in a small pot and fully submerge it in water. Bring the water to a boil. It is recommended to boil the cup for 3-4 minutes. However, make sure it does not touch the bottom of the pot to avoid burning. You can stick the cup into a metal whisk to help keep it upright and avoid touching the sides of the pot.
Sanitizing Method #2: Microwave
Using a similar technique, you can bring your water to a boil in the microwave rather than on a stovetop. The microwave technique can be hazardous and is not always recommended.
Alternatively, you can look for a sterilizing cup for menstrual cups as a safe method of sanitizing your cup in the microwave. With the sterilizing cup, you will fill it with water, add your period cup, put the lid on the sterilizing cup, and bring it to a boil in the microwave.
Sanitizing Method #3: Mason Jar or Cup
Bring water to a boil (in a pot on the stove, in the microwave, or a hot water pot) and pour it over your period cup that has been placed into a heat-safe mason jar or cup.
Sanitizing Method #4: Steam Bag
You can also purchase Microwave Steam Sterilizer Bags like these from Dr. Browns. While these have been designed for baby bottle parts, they also work well for period cups!
Sanitizing Method #5: Period Cup Sterilizer
For anyone who wants to have a steamer designed explicitly for their cup, have no fear! You can purchase this Menstrual Cup Steamer Sterilizer that makes sterilizing your cup more effortless than ever. With the push of a single button, your period cup is completely sanitized in 8-10 minutes.
Cleaning Your Menstrual Cup After Emptying
The first order of business is cleaning your menstrual cup after you empty it. These cleanings should happen every time you empty your cup to ensure no bacteria enters the cup before you insert it once again for use. Of course, you’ll also want to make sure that you have clean, washed hands before removing your cup as well.
Starting with your basic cleanings, here’s what you’ll need:
- Mild soap
- That’s it!
It’s hard to believe, but it is that simple to keep your period cup clean. You might have seen or heard about cleaning products explicitly designed for cleaning menstrual cups on the market. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about purchasing any of those to keep your cup clean. Save yourself the trouble of ensuring all ingredients are safe and the cash, and just use a simple, gentle, unscented, oil-free soap instead.
Make sure it is not too harsh and does not contain any perfumes. Those ingredients might disturb the natural pH balance of your vagina or deteriorate the silicone of your cup. Here are just a few of the things you’ll need to steer clear of:
- Tea tree oil
- Scented soap
- Dishwashing liquid
- Oil-based soap
- Hand sanitizer
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Baking soda
- Antibacterial soap
- Other harsh cleaners or chemicals
Step 1: Rinse Your Cup
Using the water in your shower or your sink, rinse the cup thoroughly. We recommend using cold water, as warm water might leave more stains and lock in smells.
Step 2: Wash Your Cup
Next, you will need to wash the cup using a mild soap. You can wash your cup gently with your hands or even use a soft (unused or sanitized) toothbrush to scrub your cup and remove any tough stains gently.
Sanitizing Your Menstrual Cup After Your Period
Once your period is over and you are ready to store away your menstrual cup, you’ll need to sanitize it once again. Always, always, always sanitize your period cup in between periods!
As a refresher, there are multiple options to sanitize your cup, including:
- Method #1: Boiling Water
- Method #2: Microwave
- Method #3: Mason Jar or Cup
- Method #4: Steam Bag
- Method #5: Period Cup Sterilizer
How to Remove Stains From a Menstrual Cup
If you begin to notice any type of staining in your menstrual cup, don’t be alarmed! Remember: stains are a completely natural side effect of using a cup. Stains do not mean you need a new one or that it is dirty.
Here are a few tricks to help remove stains from your period cup:
- Prevent stains by using cold water after emptying your cup
- Let your cup sit in the sun
- Use sterilizing tablets for baby bottles
- Soak your cup in lemon juice or spirit vinegar for an hour**
**TAKE NOTE: This last method comes with a huge disclaimer! If you choose to soak your cup in lemon juice or spirit vinegar for an hour, don’t forget to boil it for at least 10 minutes afterward to remove the residue. Also, this process shouldn't be done every month because it can damage the silicone and negatively impact the longevity of your cup.
How to Store a Menstrual Cup Between Cycles
Last but not least, you’ll also want to be mindful of how you are storing your menstrual cup between cycles to help preserve its life and minimize the collection and spread of bacteria.
It is always best recommended to store your cup in the pouch it comes in. These pouches have been designed specifically with your cup in mind. If you want to use something else, make sure it has enough ventilation and is a breathable material. Whatever you do, don’t store your cup in plastic containers or bags.
The Power of Knowledge
While it might seem a bit overwhelming at first, the processes themselves are quite simple. The biggest takeaway is to remember that you should always clean your cup between uses and sanitize between periods. And, when in doubt, stick with mild soap and water!
At Phia, we are here for a good time AND a long time. So, if you’re interested in learning more about menstrual cups, women’s health, and the Phia Cup, sign up for our newsletter and join our community. We’d love to hear from you!