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!
Leaks. This just might be the greatest fear that keeps people from trying a menstrual cup. What if my cup leaks?
Menstrual cups offer countless benefits over disposable menstrual products. Not only can they be worn for up to 12 hours at a time and reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins, they also save you money and reduce waste. Many cup users also report positive side effects such as shorter periods and less cramping. But menstrual cups can take some getting used to, and if you’re a new user, it’s not uncommon to experience some menstrual cup leaking.
We hear from many women who are frustrated that their menstrual cup is leaking, even if it’s only been in for a few hours. They often think this means that menstrual cups just don’t work for them or won’t provide the hassle-free, leak-proof solution they’re looking for. But don’t give up yet! The solution to a leaking cup is often very simple.
Before you read any further, we want you to know one thing: It may take a little time to get used to your cup and learn how to use it. Sometimes leaks will happen during that adjustment time, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the wrong cup or that you can’t use cups. It’s simply a learning period.
Factors such as how you fold or insert your cup, the position of your cervix, and where your cup sits in the vaginal canal can all affect how well it works. So, give yourself and your cup a little grace and keep trying until you find a leak-free system that works for you! We can promise that it will be 100% worth it.
That said, there are sometimes specific factors that may contribute to menstrual cup leaking. Take a look at these 10 reasons for menstrual cup leaks and learn how to fix them.
10 reasons for menstrual cup leaks
1. Your cup is too big
Yes, you read that right. Using a cup that is too big is the number-one cause of leaks among our customers. New cup users or people with a heavy flow often want to use the largest cup they can get. But a bigger cup isn’t always the answer. You also have to consider the diameter of the cup rim. If the cup is too big, it won’t fully open after it’s inserted. When that happens, you’ll have small indentations around the rim that can let leaks through. If leaks are a problem for you and you’re using a large or extra-large cup, trying going down in size. Another indication that your cup is too big is if it’s uncomfortable and feels like it’s putting too much pressure on your pelvic area (which can also make you feel like you have to pee).
2. Your cup is positioned incorrectly
Improper insertion is another common cause of menstrual cup leaking. The vaginal canal isn’t straight up and down; it’s angled toward the back. So as you insert your cup, make sure you direct it back toward the rear instead of straight up. It may also help to change your position while you insert the cup. Some women find it easier to squat, or stand with one leg on the toilet seat. Whichever position you choose, make sure your muscles are as relaxed, because tense muscles will make inserting your cup much harder.
3. Your cup didn’t open fully
Learning how to make your cup pop open can take a little practice. After your cup is inserted, run your finger around the rim. If you feel a fold or dip in the cup, this means it didn’t fully open. Simply twist the cup clockwise or counterclockwise and it should pop open. If that doesn’t work, you can try sliding the cup up and down a little bit as well, or use a different fold. Sometimes the the punch down fold doesn’t work as well as the C fold or 7 fold. Learn more about folds.
If you’re having trouble with leaks, a little water-based lubricant could go a long way! A smooth insertion will help your cup open easier. We created a Pixie Cup Lubricant that is perfect for your cup! It’s hypoallergenic, made with simple ingredients, and specifically formulated so it won’t cause any damage to your silicone cup.
If lubrication doesn’t help, maybe you have the opposite problem! Some women find that inserting their cup dry creates a more secure seal. Make sure your cup is nice and dry before inserting, and see if that takes care of leaks.
6. You’re not emptying your cup enough
We often hear from women who say their menstrual cup is leaking after only a few hours. You might be thinking, It hasn’t been 12 hours yet, and my cup is overflowing! Is something wrong?
Not at all! Your cup is safe for use for up to 12 hours, but sometimes — on your heavier days or if you have a heavier period — it might be necessary to empty it more often. This is completely normal. Just like tampons, a menstrual cup can last for different periods of time for different people. If you find that you’re having to empty your menstrual cup often, try a larger size, like our Pixie Cup XL.
7. You have strong pelvic floor muscles
While strong pelvic floor muscles offer many health benefits, they can also squeeze your cup, causing a half-full cup to overflow. If this is you, just change your cup just a little more often on your heavy flow days.
8. The air holes are blocked
The air holes around the rim of your cup are there to create a good seal, so if these are blocked, it’s possible that you could experience some leaks. If your cup is leaking, check and make sure the air holes are clean before inserting your cup. Our post about getting rid of the menstrual cup smell contains some tips for removing the buildup from air holes.
9. You have residual fluid on your vaginal walls
Sometimes you might think your cup is leaking, but it’s really just a bit of residual fluid from your vaginal walls. This is more likely to happen on the heavier days of your period. Just grab a wipe and clean out the extra residue so that it doesn’t leak out after you insert your cup.
10. Your cervix is tilted
For most people, the cervix is usually positioned centrally, which allows all fluid to flow directly into the cup. Your cervix does move during menstruation, however, and if your cervix is tilted or positioned against the wall of your vagina, this could cause the fluid to run down the vaginal wall. The same thing can happen if you have a tilted or retroverted uterus.
If you think your cervix isn’t lined up with the cup or it’s touching the rim after inserting, take your cup out and reinsert it. Try positioning the cup so it sits below your cervix, or opening the cup lower in the vagina to catch the extra flow.
Clearly, there are a lot of factors that affect how well your menstrual cup works. This may all seem overwhelming, but don’t get discouraged! After a few cycles with your menstrual cup, it will all become second nature, and you’ll never want to go back to pads and tampons! We’ve helped many cup users find the perfect fit, so if you’ve tried these suggestions and you’re still experiencing leaks, get in touch!