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.
Don’t wear your cup too long
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 designed 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.