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Menstrual Cup Storage, Cleaning and Care Questions

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What’s the difference between Sterilize and Sanitize?

It’s common to see suggestions to “sterilize” a menstrual cup before use or before storage. However, sterilizing an item normally requires more than simply boiling a cup in a pot of water.

  • Sanitizing – Reduces the number of disease-causing organisms to a non-threatening level set by the health and safety standards. Although sanitizing does not affect some spores and viruses, this is most often suitable enough for cleaning a menstrual cup for safe use.
  • Sterilizing – This is obtained by using chemicals, temperature, gas and/or pressure and has a minimum time requirement. This kills all organisms including disease-causing bacteria, spores, fungi, and viruses when done correctly.  Medical offices and hospitals use Autoclaves to achieve this. Medical tools are exposed to pressurized steam and high heat for at least 15 minutes to sterilize medical tools.

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How do I clean my menstrual cup between my monthly uses?

It’s all a matter of preference. Some people give their cup a good wash with hot water and some mild soap before air-drying and storing it away. Others like to boil their cup on the stove or microwave, some use soaking tablets, and others find that a rinse with just hot water keeps down irritation and rash. Whatever method you use, make sure that all traces of blood are removed and that the cup is air-dried before storing it away in the case or pouch that came with your menstrual cup. There are several cleaning methods available, including special care for stained cups. Please use these at your own risk and if you are unsure, contact or visit the website of the menstrual cup manufacturer.  

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Can I wash my menstrual cup with soap and water to sterilize it?

Simply washing with soap and water will not sterilize a menstrual cup. However, washing with soap and water will help decrease the number of microbes on the surface. 

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How do I clean my menstrual cup after I empty it?

  • Again, this is personal preference and may depend on where you are when you are emptying the cup.
    • If you are in a private area such as your home, a simple rinse with water or soapy water will be sufficient before re-inserting the cup. *Remember that hot water will set in stains. Rinse the cup with cold water first to remove all traces of blood, and then introduce hot water as you wish.

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Do I need to sanitize my menstrual cup every time I empty it?

No. This is not necessary every time a menstrual cup is removed. A simple rinse with water or washing with soap and water will suffice. If you feel the need for a deep cleaning, that can be done at the end of your period.

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What is the best way to sterilize my menstrual cup?

  • Menstrual cups are classified as a medical device deemed by the FDA; therefore, a menstrual cup would normally be placed into an autoclave, which is used at most doctors offices and hospitals. This machine uses pressurized steam for at least fifteen minutes. Because this is not an option in most households, it’s likely that you won’t be sterilizing your menstrual cup.
  • Sterilizing tablets may be purchased. However, they need to be used correctly: the menstrual cup must be fully submerged for at least fifteen minutes. This is considered chemical sterilization because it contains bleach, no matter how small the amount. Use this at your own risk.
  • If you are unsure about cleaning your cup, please contact or visit the website of the menstrual cup manufacturer. 

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Can I buy a sterilization cup for my menstrual cup? Mine did not come with one.

If your menstrual cup didn’t come with a sterilization cup and you would like to purchase one, there are many menstrual cup brands that offer them in a separate purchase. Check your brand of menstrual cup or look on Amazon to find accessories for your specific model and brand of menstrual cup.

If your menstrual cup brand does not offer a sterilization cup, you can purchase one from another vendor. First, just make sure that microwaving your cup is safe and will not damage it.

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What if I do not have access to running water or I am in a non-private setting, how should I clean the menstrual cup?

  • Depending on your flow, a menstrual cup can be safely worn for up to 12 hours before it needs to be removed and rinsed.
    • If you are in an area without running water, the cup can be emptied and immediately re-inserted. When you have access to a private facility, wash your cup well. If you know that you’ll be without water, you can plan to carry a bottle of water or some wipes for on the go clean-up.
    • If you are in a public area, the cup can be emptied and immediately re-inserted, but you can also use toilet paper to wipe off as much blood as you can first. Wash the cup well at your earliest convenience.

You can find additional information in this article: Menstrual Cups in Public.

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My menstrual cup is stained, is this normal?

  • Yes. Some cups stain more easily than others. This is more common with clear, white, or light-colored cups. To avoid setting in stains, rinse off any trace of blood from the cup with cold water first. You can then use hot water for thorough cleaning.
  • If stains have already set in, a 50/50 mix of over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide and water will make your cup as good as new! Fully submerge the cup in the mix, either until the stains are gone or overnight. Some companies suggest against using hydrogen peroxide on their cups for one reason or another. Use it at your own risk and contact or visit the website of menstrual cup manufacturer.
  • More information about stains.

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Can I use the microwave to clean my menstrual cup?

  • After a menstrual cup is rinsed off, it can be put into the microwave for some deep cleaning.
    • Place the cup into a microwave-safe container.
    • Make sure that the cup is completely submerged.
    • Do not cover the container!
    • Set your microwave on high for 3-5 minutes. (Microwave settings vary.)
    • Let the container and water cool completely before removing the menstrual cup to avoid burns.

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Are menstrual cups dishwasher safe?

It is not suggested that you clean your menstrual cup in the dishwasher. The cup may be dislodged by the high-pressure jet streams and damaged by the heating elements or spray arms.  Furthermore, dishwashing detergents may deteriorate the cup more quickly.

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How should I store my menstrual cup in between uses?

Most menstrual cups are accompanied by a fabric pouch or a storage container. Wherever you store it, make sure that the cup has good airflow and never store it in an airtight container. Moisture needs to be able to evaporate to minimize bacterial growth and therefore eliminate the resultant odors.

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What is the best recommendations for caring for the menstrual cup to preserve its lifespan and keep it from getting damaged?

  • Avoid using harsh chemicals to clean your cup, such as bleach.  
  • Avoid soaps and cleansers that contain oils.
  • Never use an antibacterial soap to wash the cup.
  • Store the cup in the provided pouch or in a container with good airflow.
  • Keep out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Inspect your cup regularly for any rips, tears, pitting, or a tacky feeling.

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