Put A Cup In It

How to Clean a Menstrual Cup (Surprisingly Easy!)

So you want to know how to clean a menstrual cup! Menstrual cups are made from non-porous materials such as medical grade silicone or TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) and are ideal for internal period care. Knowing how to clean your menstrual cup is important — thankfully cleaning your period cup is simple. They wash easily and will last for years with proper care!

A menstrual cup can be worn safely for up to twelve hours — unless you have a heavy period, and are changing more frequently, you won’t need to clean your cup more than twice a day. If you find that you have a heavier flow, you may opt to rinse with water in-between your twice daily washes.

Cleaning a Menstrual Cup Day to Day

It’s easy! Use warm water (as hot as you can stand) and a gentle, vagina safe menstrual cup cleaner or soap. Not sure which soap you should choose? We would recommend a soap formulated specifically for the purpose of washing cups to be safe (brands such as Lunette and Elevated make washes that we love). If you prefer not to use a cup specific wash look for gentle soaps free of harsh dyes, perfumes, and additives that may cause irritation to your skin or harm the cup.


Tips for Washing Your Menstrual Cup

  1. Empty and change your cup in the shower and keep a cup safe soap handy there.
  2. Fill the cup with soapy water and place your palm over the opening. Flip over and squeeze water out through the suction holes to remove any remaining gunk.
  3. Rub cup between hands while washing under water to remove any gunk left in suction holes.
  4. Take a soft bristle toothbrush and scrub any residue left around grip rings or suction holes on occasion.
  5. Use interdental cleaners for cleaning out suction holes if needed.

Worried about what happens in between removing, washing, and replacing your menstrual cup? Typically the blood flow isn’t heavy and fast enough to leak onto your legs or floors while you have the cup out. If you do find this is the case for you try laying a couple of squares of TP inside your underwear to catch any spots while you wash your cup. {video for other ideas}

How to Wash Your Menstrual Cup in Public

When and if you find yourself in a public restroom stall in need of cleaning your menstrual cup don’t panic! You do not need to take your soiled cup to the row of public sinks! Instead, simply remove the cup, dump contents into the toilet, and wipe the cup out with a few squares of toilet paper.

If you know you will be changing your period cup in public regularly it may be worth purchasing “cup wipes” to keep in your bag. If you are changing your cup in a single person restroom with a sink we recommend not using the soap they provide, just to be on the safe side, and simply wash out with warm water until you get home.

Image in a bathroom of hands holding a menstrual cup in the left hand and a tissue in the right hand

How to Sanitize Your Menstrual Cup

Sanitizing your menstrual cup is recommended by most brands, especially before using your period cup for the first time. There are a few methods, so choose the one that works best for you!

Menstrual Cup Boiling

Do you have to boil your cup? No, but if you prefer that your cup be fully sanitized before or after each cycle you can safely do so. In fact, it is recommended by most brands. You can boil your period cup in a pot on the stove, or in a specialty container in the microwave (be sure to allow it to cool before opening!) Please note that frequent boiling may be a contributing factor to the silicone softening and thinning over a long period of time.

How Long to Boil Your Cup

We suggest placing your menstrual cup inside of a whisk, to keep it off of the bottom of the pot, and leaving it inside a boiling pot of water for 3-5 minutes (100% recommend setting a timer! You do not want to forget your cup on the stove.)

Sanitize Your Menstrual Cup without Boiling

If you would rather not boil, you can place the cup in a “steam bag” (often sold for use of sanitizing breast pump parts), use Milton tablets and soaking, or buying a specific menstrual cup container for steaming cups in the microwave (Yuuki Cup makes one). There are evn a number of menstrual cup steam sterilizers on the market — just be sure to choose the cheapest you can find since they are all the same product rebranded (no need to pay more!)

Though sanitizing isn’t required on any routine basis you should sanitize your cup before using again if you’ve had any sort of infection.

How to Clean a Menstrual Cup: Image of a gas stovetop with a clear pot boiling with a blue menstrual cup inside of a whisk in the pot

How to Remove Menstrual Cup Stains

Stains are an unavoidable side effect of using a menstrual cup. A stained cup does not need to be replaced, but if you prefer to use a cup without staining you can do a 3% hydrogen peroxide soak overnight. Soaks should not be done too often, but once every few months is ok. Be advised that most menstrual cup manufacturers do not recommend soaking and it may void your warranty, if applicable. We love using the little Wean Green glass containers for our soaks.


Cleaning A Menstrual Cup Without Access to Water

Certain circumstances call for unique preparedness, and we are here to help you have a plan so that you can have a positive period experience wherever you are. To cover it fully we have an article specifically on using a menstrual cup without access to running water.

How to Know When to Replace Your Menstrual Cup

If your cup shows any signs of cracking or splitting, if your cup gets a chalky residue or feels sticky to the touch, these are signs you need a new cup. In all likelihood you will replace your cup because you’re excited to try a new brand before you ever NEED to replace the cup. Ruby Cup accepts cups for recycling or you can simply burn your medical grade silicone cups to ashes.

Did you know that your menstrual cup can last well over 5 years? Some users have used their cups successfully as long as 10! That’s a long time to not lose something so small but if you can keep track of your cup that long you’ve saved yourself a LOT of money! If you clean your cup and occasionally give it a good scrub there’s no reason your cup can’t last you just as long.

34 Responses

      1. Hello, just used my first menstral cup (organicup) and I didn’t boil before my first use but I’m trying to figure out how I could wash it, I have antibacterial dial bar soap, will that be okay for cleaning ???

        1. Don’t clean with anti bacterial soap, this could lead to an infection. Use soap that you can use for your vejaja

  1. I’ve been looking online for a solid minute trying to find an answer to wash soap residue off the cup (diva) I made a stupid move and washed it with dawn (ONCE) and now I’m wondering if I just ruined my cup. If anyone has a thought about the situation I will be relieved whatever the answer it. Will it be fine since it was one time or is it ruin?

    1. No. I would probably boil it to be on the safe side. You just really don’t want to put dawn in it. Your Vjayjay would not thank you

      1. Hey, DivaCup user here! Did you use regular Dawn? I can’t imagine why there would be a soap residue. Plenty of kitchen utensils are made of silicone these days. I actually wash mine with a dye free/scent free dish soap and haven’t had issues. Can you describe the residue?

  2. I’ve been doing a lot of research on cups and this is the first time I’ve read that you don’t actually have to sterilize or boil the cup. I’ve been trying to figure out how soon before your next period should you sterilize, (like week of or day of idk) but I guess it’s not as necessary as I thought it was? Well, I guess I should get myself a menstrual cup soon?? Thanks this was really helpful!

  3. I store my cup in a jar of hydrogen peroxide between periods (after washing with soap and water). I’ve been doing this for more than five years now (with the same cup) and it always comes out looking like it did the day I bought it.

    1. Do you wash it with soap and water when it’s time to use it again? Do you mind telling me what brand you use? I was thinking about getting a flex cup.

  4. Very helpful,thank you.Just one point in your gif showing how to wash the cup,the faucet is left open ,the water going straight down which is plain wastage.

  5. Thank you! This was very helpful! I am a first time cup user and am experiencing some leaking. I wonder if the suction is not tight enough…

  6. Hello!
    I love your website and everything you do!
    Do you have any thoughts on devices that use steam or uv light to sterilize your cups? I’ve seen a few out on the market and would love your advice!

  7. 1 off-brand cup may not actually be made of silicone, 2 soap you used may be mixing weird with your blood so try different soap, 3 you might not be used to your period smell, tampons and pads often hide the smell 4 possible STDs or yeast infections could be causing the smell, yeast infections get worse smelling when there is no air flow.

  8. Hi! I’m new to using cups. Just last period I was able to successfully “install” my cup. This month when I started my period I was excited to use my cup again, except for last night when I took it out to empty, there was a horrible smell so I left it out and boiled it. Did some research and read I could clean it with alcohol which I did but the smell is still there. I inserted a second cup and when I went to empty it I washed and it too has the smell. Help! What can it be? And how can I get the smell out? I should add that I got the “off brand” cups from eBay because I wanted to try first to see if I could make it work for me. TIA for your help!

    1. the only method i’ve found to remove stuck-on smell is soaking in hydrogen peroxide, no dilution. make sure not to leave it in too long as bacteria (and smell) can build up (it can even be life-threatening if left in for longer than 24 hours), anything over 12 hours will be harder to clean off the silicone. also, if you purchased an off brand, make sure it is medical-grade silicone and not some junk, that could explain the excess smell. if you use your cup correctly, it should never smell directly after cleaning it.

      1. It isn’t true that branded cups will never smell. I’ve owned three cups over my lifetime (15+ years of usage): Luna, Diva, and now Yuki (which is my favorite). All were medical grade silicone and all developed a smell over time. Soaking in peroxide or alcohol and boiling and leaving in the sun always gets rid of the smell. Peroxide is great for removing stains. Haven’t tried vinegar and water.

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