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.
Here are our top 6 tips for cleaning your cup 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 Carry Cup to rinse your cup
Our Carry Cup is a great option 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 and dump the contents in the toilet.
- Place your cup in the Carry Cup and seal it with the lid.
- Shake gently.
- Remove your rinsed cup 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.
3. Keep a bottle of water in your bag
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 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 after inserting it.
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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.