We hear this question all the time…. what do you do when your menstrual cup needs to be emptied and you’re at work, at school, or in another public place? What if you live in a dorm where the bathroom stalls are separate from the sinks?
Having to deal with a menstrual cup while away from home is one of the biggest fears among new cup users. But don’t worry, there are several different ways you can approach the situation! And while the process may look a little different than your home routine, there’s absolutely no reason you can’t clean your menstrual cup in a public bathroom or a dorm bathroom.
But before we move forward, remember that a menstrual cup can be worn for up to 12 hours. You do not need to remove your menstrual cup every time you go to the bathroom, although some people prefer to. Depending on the size of your cup and how heavy your flow is, you may not need to empty and clean your cup while you’re away from home.
However, there are times when cleaning your cup in a public restroom may be necessary — while traveling, for example, or if you have a heavy flow. In those cases, being prepared is key to menstrual cup + public bathroom success.
We also want to mention that if you purchase the Disc, you can get away from removing a menstrual cup in a public bathroom. Menstrual Disc has a self auto-dumping feature that allows some of the continents to empty out while on the toilet without removal. There might be reasons why you need to remove your Pixie Disc while in a public stall, if that does happen you should keep reading!
Here are our top 6 tips for cleaning your cup or disc while you’re away from home.
1. Look for a private restroom or stall with a sink
These days, it’s increasingly common to find a menstrual-cup-friendly bathroom option, whether it’s a family bathroom or an accessible stall with its own sink. Many coffee shops have private restrooms with the toilet and sink in one room. Having a sink handy makes it easy to wash and reinsert your cup just like you would at home. To avoid questionable restroom soap with ingredients that could cause irritation, keep our travel-sized Pixie Cup Wash in your bag!
2. Use our Public Restroom Carry Cup to rinse your cup or disc
Our Carry Cup is a great gadget for public bathrooms. It’s collapsible, so it doesn’t take up much room in your bag. Simply pop it open and fill it up with water from the sink before you enter the stall. (Make sure to wash your hands while you’re at it!) Then, once you’re in the stall:
Remove your cup or disc and dump the contents in the toilet.
Place your menstrual product in the Carry Cup and seal it with the lid.
Remove your rinsed cup/disc and reinsert. (You don’t have to worry about drying it off.)
Dump the water into the toilet and collapse the cup. Wash the Carry Cup out when you’re back at home or at the sink.
If you don’t have a sink or a Carry Cup handy, you can rinse off your cup with a bottle of water. Simply hold your cup over the toilet and rinse it off, then reinsert.
Note: Do not pee on your cup to rinse it off! This was suggested on one of our videos. We’re not sure if it was meant as a joke or not, but just in case … don’t do this. Urine is full of various waste chemicals that could harm the delicate tissues of the vagina and disrupt the vaginal pH balance.
4. Use some Public Bathroom Wipes
If you prefer an option that’s a little less messy, you can use some personal hygiene wipes. Our Pixie Wipes are individually wrapped, so you can easily stash a few in your purse or your back pocket. They’re also great for cleaning your hands before removing your cup or a menstrual disc since they tend to be messier with removal.
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5. Dump and reinsert
If you’re truly caught unprepared and need to empty your cup, don’t worry! If necessary, you can always dump your cup and reinsert it without rinsing. You can also use a little bit of toilet paper to wipe it off, but be careful not to leave any tissue stuck to the cup. While we recommend cleaning your cup every time you empty it to keep things sanitary, it’s okay to skip the wash every once in a while if it’s absolutely necessary.
When you get home, or the next time you have access to a restroom with a sink, we recommend removing your cup and cleaning it as you normally would.
6. Bring another cup
While one cup is enough for most people, some cup users like to have more than one menstrual cup on hand. Our Combo Pack comes with both our large and small cups so that you have options during your cycle.
If you don’t like the idea of reinserting your cup without properly washing it, you can always bring a second cup into the bathroom stall with you. Rinse off your used cup with one of the methods described above, pop it into a Ziplock bag to wash later, and insert your second, clean cup! A backup cup is also great to have on hand in case you happen to drop your cup into the toilet or on the bathroom floor (it’s happened to almost all of us!).
Is there anything we forgot? What are your favorite tips for using a menstrual cup when you’re in a public bathroom or don’t have access to a sink?
This content was originally written on 1/15/2019, and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
Many women are switching to menstrual cups because not only are they better for the environment, but also for health + wellbeing! Continue reading to learn more about the revolutionary period care and the benefits of using a menstrual cup.
What is a menstrual cup?
Aren’t sure what a menstrual cup is? It’s a flexible cup designed for use inside the vagina during your period to collect menstrual blood. The cup actually collects the menstrual flow rather than absorbing it as tampons or pads do. Menstrual cups are commonly made of 100% medical grade silicone. They’re flexible and easy to care for.
How do I use a menstrual cup?
If you’ve used tampons for years, you’ll likely be able to adjust to a menstrual cup with ease. For the pad-only users, it may take a little getting used to but you’ll get the hang of it! Here are some simple instructions:
First off, wash your hands well.
We suggest applying a water-based lubricant (like our Pixie Cup Lube) to help make insertion easy and comfortable. Apply the lubricant to the rim of the cup.
Insert the cup, rim up, into your vagina like you would a tampon but without the applicator. It should sit a few inches below your cervix.
Once the cup is in your vagina, grab the stem and rotate it. This will help it spring open to create an airtight seal that stops your cup from leaking.
What are the health benefits of using a menstrual cup?
We’ve recently discussed how tampons can contribute to vaginal dryness. When your vagina is dryer than usual, it can become a breeding ground for bacterial overgrowth, which may disturb the delicate pH and bacterial balance in your vagina. Ultimately this could lead to an infection. Your menstrual cup doesn’t disturb your natural fluids and flora in the vagina and does not soak up anything.
Tampons are linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which happens when a substance is in the body for too long. A menstrual cup holds menses in the silicone cup as opposed to having it continually touch the vaginal walls. Our friend, Meg, gives a great explanation of TSS in her YouTube video.
Menstrual cups are eco-friendly!
This is a pretty hot topic regarding the benefits of a menstrual cup these days! The average woman uses 5 tampons a day during her period. That combined with the number of days in your period, multiplied by the number of years the typical woman menstruates equals thousands of tampons or pads in the landfill. Ack!
Menstrual cups can last up to 10 years if properly taken care of! That means that 1 single menstrual cup can save up to 3,500 tampons/pads being sent to landfills. That number really puts it into perspective, huh? And when the menstrual cup’s life has come to an end, all you have to do is throw it into your wood stove or have a ceremonial burning at the next bonfire. It burns to simple ash that is completely biodegradable.
How convenient are menstrual cups?
Girl, pull up a chair! A tampon holds 5ml of fluid when it’s completely maxed out. Our Pixie Cups come in three sizes. Here is a great visual:
Small – holds 25ml | Large – holds 30ml | XL – holds 35ml
That means you can literally go hours between changes. It depends on your flow, but technically you can safely go 12 hours before you empty your menstrual cup.
Hot yoga class? Go sweat it out.
Are you training for a marathon? This period protection has your back.
Spending the day at the beach? Pack the sunscreen, but don’t pay any attention to Aunt Flo!
On a budget? Another benefit of a menstrual cup is it’s a purchase you make once a decade. No more last-minute runs to the gas station convenience store or sending your boyfriend to buy your pads. It’s one less thing you have to scramble cash for every month.
One of the things most women hate during their periods is how “dirty” or “gross” they feel. Not only are your hormones raging and you’re potentially bloated, but you smell. Even if no one else can pick up an odor, you can. And that’s honestly what matters most: YOU BEING CONFIDENT. Because a menstrual cup holds your menses completely airtight in the vagina, there is no odor that comes sneaking out. If you have an issue with your menstrual cup leaking, we have some tips and tricks to help with that.
No more surprises!
If you are tracking your period regularly, via an app on your phone or by bullet journaling, you probably have a really good idea of when your period is going to arrive. Gone are the days of hyper-packing your purse or backpack just in case your period surprises you. If you use a period cup, you can place it in the morning and go about your day — if Aunt Flo visits, you’re already prepared for her!
Which is better, steaming or boiling your menstrual cup? Does it matter? It really comes down to which one is more convenient for you. Not sure which one you prefer? Keep reading!
First, we want to start out by telling you a little about menstrual cup cleaning. It’s so important to keep your cup sparkling clean at all times because your vaginal canal is one of the most sensitive parts of the body.
There are two different things you should do each cycle to keep your menstrual cup clean: clean your cup between each use, and sanitize your cup before and after your cycle.
Sanitizing is completely different than cleaning, but equally important! Before and after each cycle — both when you get your menstrual cup out for your period and when you put it away again — you need to make sure all bacteria is removed from your cup. This keeps your cup clean and stain free. It also helps prevent odors.
There are two different ways you can sanitize your cup. The most common method is boiling your cup, but many cup users find that they prefer steaming. They both do the same thing, so the best option for you just depends on which one you prefer!
Why do you have to boil your menstrual cup?
Boiling your menstrual cup sanitizes it and makes it safe to use. Any time you put a foreign object into your body, there’s a chance you could be exposing yourself to bacteria. Infections from menstrual cups are rare, as long as you use your cup correctly and clean it properly. Boiling your cup before and after every cycle, and washing it between uses, will help keep bacteria at bay.
It’s also important to wash your hands before inserting or removing your cup. You’re more likely to get an infection from bacteria on your hands than from the cup itself.
How often should you boil your menstrual cup?
Boil your menstrual cup twice a month: when you get it out at the start of your cycle, and when your period is finished.
How long should you boil your menstrual cup?
We recommend boiling your cup for about 10 minutes. If you boil your cup for too long, it could cause the silicone to thin and soften over time.
How to boil your cup
Simply put a pot of water on the stove to boil and turn it to high. When it reaches a boil, insert your cup. Make sure there’s enough water to completely cover your cup. Some cup users like to put their cup inside a whisk to keep it from touching the sides of the pot. If you don’t like the idea of using a pot that you cook with, consider buying a small pot to use just for this purpose.
It’s a good idea to stay close to your cup and keep an eye on it while it boils. You might be tempted to wander off and do other things, but we’ve heard stories of people who left their cup on the stove and forgot about it! If this happens, you could burn your cup and ruin it. If you do need to walk away, set the timer on the stove so you don’t forget to come back.
Can you boil your menstrual cup in the microwave?
Many people like the idea of boiling their menstrual cup in the microwave. Using a microwave is often more convenient, especially if you’re living in a dorm room or otherwise don’t have access to a stove.
The answer is yes … sort of. You can sterilize your menstrual cup with water that’s been boiled in the microwave. Don’t put the cup itself in the microwave, or it could damage it.
Fill a large mug with water – not too full or else it could boil over – and put it in the microwave. When the water has reached a boiling point, take it out and drop your cup in. Make sure your cup is submerged and leave it for a few minutes.
Our Pixie Cup sterilizing container was made just for this purpose! It’s collapsible, so it’s discreet and easy to store. It’s also microwave safe. Simply fill it with water and place it in the microwave for a few minutes. Or, you can plan your menstrual cup in the cup and pour boiling water over it. Your cup will emerge sparkling clean and germ-free!
Steaming your cup
Steaming is a relatively new option for menstrual cups. While it has been used for quite some time now to sterilize other silicone products, steaming is new to the menstrual cup world!
Steaming is a hassle-free way to remove 99.9% of germs from your menstrual cup. Our Pixie Cup Steamer makes sterilizing your cup easy!
Steaming your cup has several advantages over boiling. For starters, you don’t have to use your cookware to sterilize your cup. In fact, you don’t have to take your cup into the kitchen at all! This is especially great if you share a house with other people and you don’t love the idea of them seeing your menstrual cup on the stove. The steamer has the appearance of a small humidifier or diffuser, and can be tucked away in the corner of your bathroom counter when not in use.
When it’s time to sterilize your cup, simply place it in the steamer with 5ml of water, replace the cover, and push the button. Your cup will be sanitized in 1-3 minutes while you put on your makeup or brush your teeth. No more worrying about burning your cup if you forget about it on the stove! The more water you add to the steamer, the longer it will run.
The next time you get your period, pop your cup back into the steamer, and it’ll be good to go.
The first key to menstrual cup success is making sure it’s cleaned properly. Sterilizing your menstrual cup before the first use in your cycle and right before you store it for the month is crucial. However, quickly washing your menstrual cup with soap before reinserting is perfect.
How do I wash my menstrual cup?
Ideally, washing your menstrual cup with a synthetic oil-free, unscented, gentle soap is best. Silicone is a substance that withstands tremendous levels of heat, but chemically we have to be mindful of what we use on it. Secondly, we have to be careful of anything that residually could be put into our vagina. Our lady region has a perfect balance — soaps, perfumes and synthetics can severely throw off our pH level, which could result in an infection of its own!
Our Pixie Cup Wash is formulated with your menstrual cup and our va-jay-jay in mind! We have 13 all-natural ingredients that make up our Pixie Cup Wash. No crazy ingredients here — only things that are safe, work and that you can pronounce 😉
Here are our super-safe Pixie Cup Wash ingredients:
Distilled water is water that has been filtered to remove minerals.
Phellodendron (amur cork tree) extract
Fructus Cnidii extract
Radix Stemonae Extract
So now that we’ve talked about ideal soaps and ingredients, let’s talk about what NOT to use when cleaning your menstrual cup!
As tempting as it is to grab your mainstream lady wash from the shower, it’s definitely not a good idea. Just don’t do it. Believe it or not, they are designed to only stay on the outside of your body! (Doctors are starting to speak against them too) Where a menstrual cup is an internal object, it’s best to make sure there is no perfume or residue that could be deposited and cause irritation or infection.
What about Toxic Shock Syndrome? (TSS)
Leaving your menstrual cup uncleaned could lead to infection, which is a rabbit hole that’s not fun. Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is something that is typically associated with tampons. That being said, if a menstrual cup isn’t cleaned completely, it can carry bacteria as well! Meg does a fantastic job of describing what exactly TSS is and how it pertains to you, a tampon and a menstrual cup.
How should I store my menstrual cup?
Be sure to boil or steam your menstrual cup to sterilize it after your cycle as finished before you put it away for the month. Make sure that you are keeping it in a breathable bag so it doesn’t keep moisture and aid bacteria growth — Steer clear of plastic or airtight containers!
Now… how about keeping a bottle of our Pixie Cup Wash on hand so you’re never without a perfect + safe option?
Sterilizing your menstrual cup is key to extending the life of your cup as well as making it safe to use. One of the best features of a menstrual cup is that it can safely be worn for up to 12 hours (this does depend on your flow as well.) With this in mind, a quick wash during the day is just fine… remember, we’re shooting for a low-stress, low maintenance period!
With all the buzz about BPA and the rise of different reusable materials, it’s important to know what touches your body and what you put in it. Menstrual cups are made from medical-grade silicone. This has taken the worry out of using it inside our bodies and is super easy to keep clean! Here are all the how-to’s!
How do I clean my menstrual cup for the first time?
Yay! Your new menstrual cup arrives. You’re nervous and excited. It’s like a blind date. But messier. You’ve opened it, now what? Boil it! Boiling for approximately 5 minutes is a simple way to ensure your cup is completely clean and ready for use! Make sure your pot has enough water so the menstrual cup is able to float around.
Life hack: squeeze your cup into a whisk and submerge in the water. This protects your cup from harsh contact with the bottom of the pan, which could damage it.
Picking a wash that’s formulated both for the safety of your cup and for you is best. Check out our Pixie Cup Wash for a gentle option! The foamy soap is made from plant-based ingredients and is designed to not harm the vagina or pH levels. If our Pixie Cup Wash isn’t available to you at the moment, make sure you pick something that doesn’t contain dye, oils or harsh chemicals. Fragrances are also a no-no for our lady region!
Rinse with warm water and apply cleanser. Rub around between fingers until yucky residue is gone.
Fill the cup with water and cleanser, place your palm over the top to create a seal and SQUEEZE! This forces water and soap to exit through the suction holes around the top. If stubborn stuff is still in the holes, dip a toothpick in rubbing alcohol and gently poke.
Keep your Pixie Cup Wash in the shower! Empty and clean your cup in there to keep the mess contained!
Cleaning your menstrual cup with soap and water every time you empty your cup is just fine. However, when you’re wanting to put it away for the month or pulling it out to use, you need to sterilize. When done properly, sterilizing eliminates all bacteria so nothing continues to grow.
Medical-grade silicone is quite cool. It’s gentle on us, yet rugged enough to have little staining and is heat resistant up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Boiling your cup is the most common way of sterilizing. If you don’t have a stovetop available to you, our Pixie Cup Sterilizing Container makes microwaving your menstrual cup super easy! Fill ¾ with water, place your menstrual cup inside and place the lid on top, but don’t snap it on completely. Leave a space so air can vent through safely.
Do you have roommates? Are you going to visit relatives soon? Or maybe you’re not keen on using the same kitchen items to boil the menstrual cup that you use to cook with! We hear you! The Pixie Cup Steamer is a quick 3-minute fix for sterilizing and can be done while you’re finishing getting ready or pouring yourself a coffee. It only takes a few inches of space on your bathroom counter or bedroom dresser. Be sure to follow the included directions to safely steam your cup. This is a great way to sterilize your menstrual cup without boiling.
How do I clean my menstrual cup in public?
Keep in mind, your Pixie Cup is designed to stay put for up to 12 hours, but life happens and we all find ourselves in less-than-desirable circumstances! Our favorite option for this is our Pixie Cup Wipes. Don’t carry a purse? These packets are slim so you can slip one in your wallet or clutch no problem! Our wipes are biodegradable and flushable so you can flush and go.
What about menstrual cup stains and odor?
Sometimes no matter what we do, there is a lingering odor. Makes sense, right? Your menstrual cup has a dirty job! Making a quick odor-eliminating rinse with items you typically have in the house is an easy fix.
Stains happen everywhere — on our favorite shirts, shoes, bags and you guessed it: our menstrual cups. Getting rid of stains is possible! We also shouldn’t underestimate the power of the sun that we have every day. Set your cup directly in the sun for the day and give it a good sun-soaking before you put it away in the dark for a month!
When do I need to replace my menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is safe to use for up to 5+ years… technically. That being said, the care and keeping of your cup plays a heavy role. Make sure you’re sterilizing regularly and using the correct type of soap on your cup to prevent drying and cracking. If you notice any sort of cracking in your cup or the outside has become tacky to the touch, discard immediately. At this point, the silicone has been damaged and shouldn’t be used any longer. The most eco-friendly way of disposing of your menstrual cup is to burn it, believe it or not! Toss it into the woodstove or the next bonfire. It doesn’t produce toxic fumes and burns to a simple ash!
Our Pixie Cup Steamer takes the worry and work out of sterilizing your menstrual cup! Add water, place your cup, put on the lid + click the button. Now, put on some mascara and throw your hair in a top knot — go rock your day!