There are several different ways you can sterilize your menstrual cup. You may have seen new UV menstrual cup sterilizers on the market and maybe you’re wondering what they’re all about; whether they work and actually eliminate bacteria! What is UV sterilization?Is it effective for bacteria and viruses? If you found this post, chances are you are doing your research. Let’s dig in!
What is UV Sterilization?
UV light has been used for sterilization and disinfection as early as the mid-20th century, actually! Technology has advanced since then, and specifically in the UV bulbs themselves. Their reliable, long lifespan (thousands of hours) and smaller size has broadened the use! You can find it being used to disinfect water, air, fruits, vegetables, surgical utensils, tablet computers, toys, even fish tanks!
Check out this UV robot that is used to sterilize an entire hospital room!
How effective is UV Sterilization?
Scientists have known for decades that broad-spectrum UVC light, which has a wavelength of between 200 to 400 nanometers (nm), is highly effective at killing bacteria and viruses by destroying the molecular bonds that hold their DNA together. This conventional UV light is commonly used to decontaminate surgical equipment.
Within the last handful of years, researchers at CUIMC figured out that a narrow spectrum of ultraviolet light (technically) called far-UVC could kill microbes without damaging healthy tissue. Crazy right? We hear UV and we automatically think of having a gel manicure or spending time at the pool with a lot of sunscreens!
Moreover, the researchers demonstrated that UVC light was effective at killing MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria, a common cause of wound infections!
What is the difference between the UV rays?
Light is a crazy thing! On one end of the spectrum, you find infrared and on the other end, you find x-ray. The sweet spot in the middle is the visible light; this is what’s able to be seen by the naked eye. Between visible light and x-ray, you find all the UVs.
UVA: UVA rays, which account for 95 percent of the radiation that reaches the earth’s surface, cause wrinkles, “sunspots,” and other types of premature aging. They are also strongly linked to skin cancer.
UVB: UVB rays, which affect the skin’s top layer, cause skin cancer, and most sunburns.
UVC: These rays are considered the bad boys of the UV family. They physically actually never reach the earth’s surface from the sun because it’s blocked by the ozone layer. However, it’s been recreated here on earth with things like mercury lamps, bulbs, and welding torches. UVC light is able to cause the physical destruction of viral, bacterial, and fungal cells in a matter of seconds.
How long does it take for UV light to sterilize?
A matter of minutes! UV-C is the killer of the UV family. Tests of UVC on surfaces have demonstrated that it kills C. diff spores in seconds versus hours for chemical cleaning. In fact, Here at Pixie Cup, we are super excited about the launch of our new UV Sterilizer! By placing your Pixie Cup in the sterilizer and closing the lid, you hit the button and 99.9% of bacteria are killed in minutes. (2 minutes to be exact!) The UV lights remove odor-causing bacteria along with gross things like Staph, Salmonella, E. coli, flu & other common germs. Your cup is clean + safe to be used immediately or stored away for next month!
To use our sterilizer, be sure to wash your Pixie Cup and dry it completely. We recommend our Pixie Cup Wash, which is specifically formulated to gently wash your silicone menstrual cup. On top of that, the Pixie Cup Wash is pH balanced so that it doesn’t interrupt the vaginal flora! Sterilizing your menstrual cup regularly is key to keeping germs + bacteria away and infection at bay.
Do you have questions about UV sterilization? Comment below! We’d love to chat! Meanwhile, be sure to check out our store!
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 a non-porous material like 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!