Cleaning the menstrual cup – this is the right way to keep it clean
A hygienically clean menstrual cup poses no risk of infection. To enjoy it for as long as possible, you need to clean it regularly in the right way. You can find detailed information and practical tips on this in this guidebook
The most important things in summary
- To ensure that your menstrual cup is always hygienic, you must clean or disinfect it regularly. This will help prevent infections and unpleasant odors.
- Before and after your period, it is best to boil the cup and disinfect it completely. For daily cleaning, clear water or soap suitable for this purpose is sufficient.
- Residues or discolorations remain especially in the air holes or at the edges. Some manufacturers, therefore, offer small brushes or other aids in their scope of delivery.
About the proper cleaning of a menstrual cup
Everyone is now talking about the menstrual cup as a very good alternative to the sanitary pad or tampon. As an ecologically sustainable product, it shines with its reusability and is therefore also fascinating from a financial point of view. But anything that can be reused must definitely be professionally cleaned.
Cleaning tips – before and after use
The cleaning or disinfection effort is quite manageable. Since hygiene is so extremely important here, a few precautions should be taken before insertion.
- Washing hands is the first priority
Our hands are constantly full of germs that certainly do not belong in your vagina. Just washing your hands normally with warm water and soap is absolutely sufficient, before and after insertion.
- Before first use – disinfect completely
Check whether the air holes at the top of the new menstrual cup are open properly. It could be that some residue got stuck when punching through the holes. If so, clean it with a mild liquid soap without perfume or dye under cold water.
If you prefer a disinfectant spray, you can use that as well. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can boil the material for up to 20 minutes. Then it is absolutely germ-free.
- Cover completely with water
When boiling for a longer time, it is essential to have enough water in the pot. Keep in mind that a large amount of water evaporates in the process. There is a risk of severe damage to the cup if the pot threatens to fall dry.
Our practical tip: Clamp it into a whisk so that it cannot come into contact with the bottom of the pot at all.
- Wash hands with soap.
- Check the air holes.
- Clean with cold water and mild liquid soap.
- Use a whisk when boiling off.
- Cover the pot with a lid as much as possible when boiling. This way, less water evaporates and the process is more energy-efficient.
During your period: clean daily
Every time you use it for the first time at the very beginning of your period, you should boil the menstrual cup for at least five minutes. Depending on the intensity of your bleeding, it should be emptied and cleaned two to four times a day. Since it is quite smooth inside, it is very easy to clean with cold water and some liquid soap, although the slightly acidic soap (pH 3.5 to 5.5) should not contain perfume or oil.
- Coldwater for the first cleaning step
For the first cleaning step, you should always take cold water with some liquid soap. This is the only way to ensure that the material does not discolor. After washing it with soap, rinse it carefully with clean water so that no soap residues stick to it, which would irritate your vaginal flora in an unpleasant way.
Never put them in the dishwasher
Although the dishwasher will not damage the robust material, your vagina will feel the adhering residues of the dishwashing detergent unpleasantly.
The most important things in short
- Always clean with cold water first to counteract possible discoloration.
- During your period, you can avoid using soap altogether. If you absolutely want to use some soap, choose a mild liquid soap whose pH value is close to that of the mucous membranes of your vagina.
- When cleaning, make sure that the small holes at the top of the rim are absolutely free of residue. A toothbrush or toothpick can sometimes come in handy.
- You can turn the menstrual cup inside out and vice versa when cleaning.
Do not forget to clean the airholes
The air holes are intended to be able to balance the air pressure between the inside and outside even better by applying slight pressure with the fingers. Therefore, they should always be kept free. Incidentally, clogged air holes lead to unpleasant odors.
So fill the cup almost completely with water, close it as well as you can with your almost flat hand and then squeeze it properly with your other hand. Be careful, this will cause water to splash through the air holes, but this is exactly what it is intended to do.
A toothbrush can be helpful
It’s clear that you shouldn’t use your everyday toothbrush to clean the holes because it’s not uncommon for it to be covered with germs. So get a new toothbrush that you dedicate exclusively to your menstrual cup. By the way, it is also very helpful for removing discoloration.
The air holes can be cleaned especially well with the bristles of an interdental brush. These types of interdental brushes look more like small bottle brushes and you can get them not only in pharmacies or drugstores but also in larger supermarkets.
The central metal wire in the interdental brush could damage the material. It is better to use an interdental brush with a plastic core.
Cleaning cloths and toothpicks
If you want to use a toothpick, you can dip it in rubbing alcohol, which every pharmacy sells, or wrap it with a special cleaning cloth to clean the air holes optimally.
Do not use sharp-edged objects such as screwdrivers or needles. The function is canceled out by enlarged side holes.
Cleaning the menstrual cup after your period
After the cycle, the menstrual cup should be boiled for up to 20 minutes and then stored hygienically clean, for example in a cloth bag. The latter is of course also washed regularly.
Storage until the next time. After your period, boil it and store it in a clean, dry place.
- First, clean the air holes from all debris.
- Secure the cup in a whisk securely over the bottom of the cooking pot.
- Boil for 10 to 20 minutes with the lid half-closed. Be careful not to let the water evaporate completely in the process.
- A small dash of vinegar will reduce any lime deposits.
- Allow to cool and dry thoroughly, then store in a clean cloth bag.
Cleaning after a fungal infection
- Boil for about 20 minutes three times in a row, also using a little vinegar. In the meantime, let the cup air dry for a sufficient time. Of course, each time you take new water to boil.
- Wash your underpants, towels, storage bag, etc. at least at 60 degrees Celsius. Also use a dash of vinegar, which you can put in the fabric softener compartment.
- When carefully cleaning the toilet, you also use vinegar, which is known to kill fungi, because they can not tolerate such a drastic change in pH well.
- In the medical treatment of the fungus, of course, your partner must also participate.
- If the gel used to treat the fungus is silicone-based, you should not use your cup during this time. In this case, the package insert usually indicates that you should not use tampons. The same applies to the menstrual cup. However, you can use pads without hesitation.
Cleaning on the go – easier than you think
Here it is recommended that you have cleaning wipes with you during your period. Such wipes are offered separately by the manufacturers of menstrual cups. A good alternative is also a disinfectant spray, which you can carry in your purse if necessary.
If possible, also take a small water bottle with you. In an emergency, you can just wipe out the cup with some toilet paper and put it right back in, which is still better than no cleaning at all.
Particularly practical girls believe that they can clean their menstrual cup sufficiently by peeing on it. But this is a fallacy.
On the beach – with clean handkerchiefs
Sand and salt have their special, sometimes annoying properties, especially when some of it enters the vagina. Here you need spotless handkerchiefs and some water, so that you can clean your cup provisionally at any time. Make sure that in the heat of the moment you don’t get any paper residue stuck.
When traveling – clean in the microwave
There are special cleaning tablets that make heating the water obsolete. In vacation homes or apartment hotels, a microwave is usually available. To disinfect the menstrual cup in this way, there is a very special disinfection box.
What helps against limescale on the material?
After boiling, the material may appear covered with a kind of white powder. This happens especially where hard water has a relatively increased lime content. This coating is usually easy to wipe off. With a splash of vinegar or lemon juice in the water, such lime deposits can be easily avoided.
Chemically, the so-called lime is mostly calcium and magnesium carbonates, which can precipitate in an alkaline environment. By adding some acid, the bases are neutralized, and the remaining carbonates remain in the solution without being deposited on the silicone.
What should I do in case of discoloration and odors?
If washing with cold and warm water using liquid soap does not help, use a soft toothbrush to scrub the menstrual cup inside and out. It is best to turn it upside down several times. To keep the holes free, a special toothbrush for interdental spaces is suitable.
Vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and co.
To get rid of unpleasant odors and annoying plaque, you can also use the following products:
There are tablets as a water additive, which are used, for example, for cleaning baby pacifiers or baby dishes. However, simple apple cider vinegar or baking soda can also be used instead.
The latter terms are usually understood to mean sodium hydroxide (NaOH) or sodium hydrogen carbonate (NaHCO3). These salts make the water even more basic, but in chemistry, the principle always applies: Like dissolves easily in like.
The fact that the silicone turns somewhat brownish after a longer period of time is due to the iron content of the hemoglobin, i.e. your blood. Although the model is not “rusty”, the coloring molecules do penetrate the silicone dressing to a certain extent and with lasting effect.
If the discoloration bothers you, you could bleach the menstrual cup yourself by soaking it in a three percent hydrogen peroxide solution, in lemon juice, or in clear vinegar. Even a few hours of sun (UV light) will bleach them out. Don’t forget to rinse thoroughly before putting them in, though.
Choose only those cleaning methods that were indicated in the instructions as suitable for such cups.
Not all soap is the same – pay attention to the pH value
You can definitely use a mild, fragrance- and oil-free liquid soap with a pH value between 3.5 and 5.5. Some manufacturers have even developed their own liquid soaps, such as the Lunette Feelbetter Menstrual Cup Cleanser.
It is characterized by a pleasant scent of lemon and eucalyptus, although it was deliberately kept free of artificial fragrances and dyes. Its pH value roughly corresponds to the acid environment in your vagina.
One ingredient in this soap is ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS). This surfactant ensures that no soap residue remains on the surface. It also ensures that Lunette Feelbetter Menstrual Cup Cleanser is much milder than a soap with Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS).
ALS has been recognized by the Allergy, Skin, and Asthma Federation as a safe ingredient in cosmetic products. In combination with the surfactant Cocamidopropyl-Betaine (CAPB), which is widely used in natural cosmetics, it has been possible to make this soap so extremely mild.
Suitable equipment for cleaning: Boiling pot and cleaning box
The menstrual cup can be easily disinfected in boiling water. To do this, you need a suitable cooking pot that can hold at least two liters of water so that nothing can burn on the bottom of the pot. Alternatively, there is also a disinfection or cleaning box, which is included in the scope of delivery of some products.
The kettle is more for tea water
Now you could get the idea of simply putting your menstrual cup into the kettle. Apart from the fact that other people would certainly want to use it to make their tea water hot, a kettle switches off as soon as the water boils. That is too short a time to sufficiently disinfect the material.
Can I sterilize my menstrual cup in the microwave?
Yes, because some manufacturers immediately supply special disinfection boxes for microwave or for an oven. As an example, the Pixie Cup Silicone Cleaner Container to Boil allows hygienic cleaning in the microwave.
The cleaning cup is filled with water so that everything is completely covered with water. Then it is placed in the oven or microwave, but make sure that the lid is still open a crack.
Set the microwave to a power of 1000 watts, for example, and let it run for two to three minutes, or a little longer the first time. In the oven, the jar should “bake” on baking paper at 180 degrees for about ten minutes.
Be careful! The mug can be very hot when you take it out. So either let it cool down first or use a clean oven mitt.
To prevent possible infection, the menstrual cup must always be cleaned thoroughly. This applies before the first use as well as before and after each subsequent use. This is very easy to do, just follow the advice given here with confidence. In this way, the material will also enjoy a long life and will not suffer any damage. If you do everything right and buy a good product, it may well serve you faithfully for ten years.