Menstrual cups are a great option for many women, especially if you’re looking to reduce the amount of waste created by period products. On average, a woman will throw away close to 300 pounds of tampons and pads in her lifetime, and every year approximately 20 billion tampons, applicators, and hygienic napkins will end up in North American landfills. So, if you’re looking to do your part to reduce that amount or you’re just curious about period cups, you’re in the right place. Properly caring for a menstrual cup involves a bit more effort, but it might be worth it for you and your body.
What is a Menstrual Cup?
A menstrual cup, like the Cora Cup, is a sustainable option for women looking to explore outside traditional period products like pads and tampons. Made of medical-grade silicone, the Cora Cup is free of BPA and toxic chemicals. That means both the environment and your body will thank you.
If you’re considering using a menstrual cup but haven’t fully decided yet, there are a few reasons it might be worth your time. Apart from its sustainability benefits, menstrual cups are flexible and easy to use. Inserted just like a tampon, a period cup moves with you and feels comfortable while preventing leaks.
6 Ways to Clean & Care For Your Menstrual Cup
Once you’ve decided to give a menstrual cup a try, it’s important to learn how to use and take care of it. Properly cleaning your menstrual cup is essential to keeping your body healthy and happy throughout the cup’s lifetime.
Here are six ways to clean and care for your menstrual cup.
1. Use a Menstrual Cup Cleanser
First, it’s essential to understand which cleansers to use and not to use on your period cup. Certain soaps, like soaps with oil or heavily-fragranced scents, may irritate your vagina during and after use. The Cora Cup Cleanse is pH balanced and free of dyes and fragrances, and washes away bacteria naturally with lemon extracts and witch hazel. It’s an easy and gentle option if you’re trying a menstrual cup for the first time.
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2. Clean With a pH-Balanced Soap (Your Vagina Will Thank You)
If you decide to use a soap wash to wash your menstrual cup, it’s important to note that it has to be a pH-balanced soap. Try choosing a mild and fragrance-free cleanser, or a liquid Castile or glycerin soap.
If you’re unsure whether or not the soap you’ve chosen is harming your vaginal health, you can conduct a pH (potential hydrogen) test at home to assess the acidity level of your vagina discharge. Ideally, you’d like to see a pH score between 5.3 and 7.0. If your pH seems high, you may want to book an appointment with your gynecologist. While pH levels can rise and fall for many reasons, a consistently high pH may be a sign of bacterial vaginosis, a condition that may cause odor and irritation in your vagina. When cleaning your menstrual cup, be sure to use gentle products and cold water to keep your vagina happy.
3. Make a Vinegar Solution to Sanitize Your Cup
Interested in using soap to clean your cup, but don’t see any that appeal to you? Try making a diluted vinegar solution instead. To make the solution, combine white vinegar with nine times as much water. That’s it! Because vinegar is a natural sanitizing agent, it will clean out your cup without any of the artificial ingredients that may appear in store-bought soaps. Simply rinse the cup with your vinegar solution with cold water and go. It’s a great low-cost, do-it-yourself, natural option.
4. Boil Your Period Cup at The End of Your Menstrual Cycle
Even if you’re washing your cup with soap between uses, you’ll want to boil it—yes, boil it!—at the end of each cycle. After washing your cup with hot water and soap, you can place it in boiling water to fully sanitize it before your next period. It’s recommended that you place your cup inside of a metal whisk and leave it in a pot of boiling water for only one to two minutes. It’s a quick way to sanitize your cup. Be careful not to leave your cup in the boiling water too long though; boiling your cup too often may lead to the silicone softening or thinning over time.
While it may seem strange to place a menstrual product in a kitchen pot, just remember that your period is a natural, healthy process! Give your menstrual cup a quick wash before it enters the pot, and boiling it simply sanitizes it further. Your period is a powerful process, and it’s important to provide your body with the utmost care and cleanliness to ensure it can continue working at its best ability.
5. Dry Your Menstrual Cup Completely Before Storing
Once you’ve selected your preferred method of cleaning your period cup, it’s important to ensure your cup is completely dry before storing it. Storing your cup with any leftover moisture on it may encourage bacteria to grow, and not the bacteria your vagina will like. Take care to ensure it’s nice and dry, and then store it where you feel comfortable.
6. Store in a Breathable, Dry Container
You have a few different options when it comes to storing your menstrual cup. First, it’s important to avoid a plastic bag or any other sort of container that’s fully sealed. Instead, aim for a breathable container that will ensure a longer life for your cup and make for a better smelling cup overall.
A small cotton pouch will do, or a natural material like Cora Cup’s vegan leather clutch. Finding a cute, portable pouch for your cup is part of the fun! Your cup does so much for you, so it’s nice to give it a cute, comfortable home when it’s not in use. Then, try keeping it somewhere cool and dry, like your underwear drawer or bedside table.
Ingredients to Avoid When Cleaning Your Menstrual Cup
When it comes to cleaning your menstrual cup, a natural option is almost always the best form of sterilization. Avoid bleach, scented or fragranced soaps, oil-based soaps, rubbing alcohol, antibacterial soap, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, dishwashing detergent or soap, and the dishwasher. If you don’t clean your vagina with it, don’t clean your menstrual cup with it!
Your vagina is self-cleaning, but it’s sensitive to foreign and harsh substances. If you’re feeling any irritation or noticing a foul-smelling odor at any point during your use of your menstrual cup, take a pH test to assess your vaginal health and find the cleaner that leaves your vagina in the right pH range.
Once you find the menstrual cup cleaning routine that works for you, stick with it! Your body and the planet will both thank you.