Have you noticed an odor coming from your menstrual cup? The truth is, if you use your cup at all, there’s a risk that you could end up with a stinky menstrual cup on your hands. While a menstrual cup smell doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with your cup (or with your period), it can be annoying. The good news is, there are some steps you can take to make sure that your cup stays sparkling clean and smelling nice even after years of use, and it’s really not that hard to do!
Is it normal for my menstrual cup to smell?
Yes! It’s completely normal for a menstrual cup to develop an odor with regular use. This odor may be completely different from the smell associated with your menstrual flow. Some people have described the smell as similar to eggs, broccoli, or sulfur. Others have described the menstrual cup smell as sour. But don’t worry — it’s unlikely that other people will notice the smell of your menstrual cup or the smell of your period. But if it bothers you, here’s how to fix it!
How do I get the smell out of my menstrual cup?
The tips below will help remove both smell and discoloration from your menstrual cup. It’s always a good idea to read your manufacturer’s instructions for your specific cup brand. The following is what we recommend for Pixie Cup menstrual cups. If you have a cup from a different manufacturer (such as a Diva Cup or a Lena Cup), they may recommend different cleaning and sanitizing procedures.
Prevent or remove menstrual cup smell with deep cleaning
If you’ve noticed that your menstrual cup has a weird smell, or if you just want to prevent it from smelling in the future, make sure to keep your cup sparkling clean. It’s really important to take good care of your cup and keep it clean at all times, and this will help decrease the likelihood of any unpleasant odors.
We recommend deep cleaning and sanitizing your cup before and after each period, and giving your cup a quick rinse when you change it at least once a day. This will dramatically reduce the likelihood of unwelcome smells.
Menstrual cups are safe to wear for up to 12 hours. Ideally, it’s best to remove and empty your cup even more frequently — every 4 to 8 hours if possible. Leaving your cup in for longer than recommended can increase the chance of an odor developing. If your cup already has an odor, leaving it in too long could make it worse.
Rinse with cold water first
You may be tempted to wash your cup in hot water right after you take it out, but hot water can actually cause odor and stains to set in. When you remove your cup, wash or rinse it in cold water first. You can follow this by washing it in warmer water. The same is true for underwear or other clothing that gets menstrual blood on it: Give it a good scrub in cold water to keep stains from setting.
Give it a good scrub
Set aside a toothbrush that is designated just for your cup. After rinsing your cup under cold water, give your cup a good scrub with soap. We recommend our Pixie Cup Wash. Avoid using soap or other cleaning products that aren’t intended specifically for menstrual cups — they may contain oils, fragrances, or other chemicals that can increase the risk of odor or harm the silicone. When you wash your cup, make sure you get in between the grooves and clean the air holes around the rim to remove any residue that can build up in those areas.
If you’re changing your cup in a public restroom and can’t wash it, it’s fine to just wipe it off and reinsert. Keep some menstrual cup wipes in your bag or pocket for this purpose, and just make sure to give your cup a good wash the next time you’re at home.
Steam or boil your cup before and after your period
Before and after each period, we recommend sanitizing your menstrual cup by steaming or boiling it. You can boil it on the stove for 2-10 minutes. Or, to make sanitizing your menstrual cup easier, we created our menstrual cup steamer. The steamer sits right on your bathroom counter and sterilizes your cup in just three minutes!
Give your cup a sun bath
Find a nice sunny spot and let your cup soak up some rays for a few hours! This will help with both odors and discoloration. Just don’t leave it where it may get too hot or melt.
Use a naturally scented rinse every month or two.
Sometimes your cup needs a little more than soap and water to keep it smelling fresh. You can create an all-natural menstrual cup rinse with just some lemons and vinegar! Make sure to boil or steam your cup before use to remove any lemon or vinegar residue.
One last note…
Keep in mind that vaginal infections and yeast infections can cause unpleasant smells. If you notice an unpleasant or unusual odor that isn’t just related to your cup, it may be time to see your doctor.
Check out our online store to purchase our menstrual cup wipes, wash, steamer, and other products that can help you keep your cup clean and odor-free!
This content was originally written on May 28, 2019, and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
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.
Soap nuts extract is extracted from the fruit (aka nuts) of Sapindus Trifoliatus. It is a cleansing agent that is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory.
Cocoyl glucoside is derived from coconut sugar. It is a natural cleansing agent and surfactant (foaming ingredient).
Honeysuckle extract is extracted from the flower Flos Lonicerae (or the Honeysuckle vine). It is a plant-based preservative.
Khu-seng extract, or ku-shen, is from the root of Sophora Flavescens and has anti-inflammatory and anti-irritation properties.
Amur cork tree extract is from the bark of phellodendron (amur cork tree). It conditions the skin and is anti-inflammatory.
Menthol is found naturally in mint plants. It adds a cooling and refreshing agent to our wash.
Sodium chloride (food-grade) is salt. It softens and boosts cleaning performance.
Lactic acid is made from beet sugar and is a natural preservative.
Rice bran extract is derived from the bran layer of rice. It cleanses, softens, and moisturizes your skin.
Corn extract is extracted from corn kernels and is used to purify and soothe.
Olive oil is oil pressed from olives. It provides Vitamin E and softening agents to our wash.
Citrus is a plant-derived essential oil that smells great and adds a refreshing scent.
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!
Menstrual cup stains are super common and are a badge of honor in a way… It shows a lot of use, how you’ve dedicated your cycle to less waste (think of all the products you’ve kept out of landfills!), and that you’ve made the stand to live free. Still, they can be an eyesore. We’ve added a method on removing the stains and some tips on preventing them in the future!
How do I clean off any initial staining?
If your cup is dingy or has staining, let it soak at room temperature for an hour in a glass container or jar with 1/3 cup hydrogen peroxide and 2/3 cup water. This should eat the stains away on its own but if there is anything remaining, take a toothbrush or washcloth and scrub.
How do I prevent menstrual cup stains?
Sterilize your cup regularly. The best way to keep your cup stain-free is to do your best to prevent them! In addition to washing your cup each day and sterilizing your menstrual cup before and after each period, make sure you are giving your cup a scrub in the areas that often experience buildup such as around the rim and in the grooves of the stem. Also, try to minimize the amount of time the cup is exposed to the air without a thorough cleaning because this can lead to the darkening of the silicone.
Give it a good scrub. You may think your cup is beyond saving, but we want to assure you most stains can come off! Are you ready for one of our best stain-removal hacks? Here we go: grab an old toothbrush and scrub your cup with a little warm water and some silicone-safe cleaning solution! You will be surprised how much of the “staining” comes off with this technique!
Let it soak. We all need a steamy bath sometimes, even your menstrual cup! Squirt a little of the cleaning solution mentioned in Step 2 into a bowl or your Pixie Cup Cup with some hot water and let it soak for a few hours! Pair this with a good scrub and you can say goodbye to some tough stains!
Sunsoaking your cup. Placing your menstrual cup in a sunny location (preferably outside) for a few hours will do a world of good for any discoloration. Sun bleaching has been around for centuries and has never let anyone down yet.
Grab some Pixie Cup Wash and an old toothbrush and go to town scrubbing! Your cup will be sparkling in no time.