Menstrual Cup Cleaning and Care

Doctor recommended | | Lane Baumeister
5 min read

*Updated on March 27 to address the current COVID-19 situation. 

This article was medically fact-checked by Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr. Shree Datta.

In a wild time of COVID-19 uncertainty and product availability, one thing you can always be certain about is your menstrual cup. Not only is it reusable for up to 10 years (or 2 years for the Ziggy Cup), it’s also the safest bet for your body and hygiene. Below we’ll discuss the best ways to clean your cups to keep you and your vagina as healthy as can be.

It’s time to invest in menstrual cups that invest in your own wellbeing. Keep it simple, safe, and stress-free.

Menstrual cups are a fantastic alternative to pads and tampons. But one question women always have is: how do I clean it? Like most other aspects of using a cup, it’s really very simple to keep your cup clean. There are two times when you need to clean your cup: between uses and between periods. 

Intimate Accessory Cleaner is an alcohol-free spray that keeps your menstrual cups clean and disinfected, and you can use it all the time. Except that, here’s the ultimate guide to keeping your cup clean at all times:

First thing’s first

The number one thing to remember is that anytime you’re going to touch your cup or yourself, wash your hands. You’ll reduce the risk of infections and ensure you keep your vagina and the surrounding area clean. The best menstrual cups are made out of 100% medical-grade silicone, which is bacteria-resistant so it’s not necessary to sterilize it after every use.

However, some cups aren’t made out of silicone so make sure you know how to clean that particular material.

Between uses during your period

Since silicone cups are bacteria resistant, you don’t need to wash yours every time you empty it. Simply rinsing it in the sink is enough to clean it out before reinserting.

To avoid stains, you can initially rinse with cold water, then follow it up with a hot rinse to disinfect.

If you don’t have access to water (like in a public washroom), you can just wipe the cup out with toilet paper or carry a bottle of water into the stall with you and rinse it over the toilet.

One important thing to remember is that, if your cup has small air holes on its rim they need to be kept clear. If the holes are blocked it might be difficult to create a seal when you reinsert the cup, which increases the likelihood of leaks. If you have access to running water you can easily clear those holes by bending the silicone there while you rinse. You can also do this:

  • Fill the cup with water.
  • Press your hand over the opening to create a seal.
  • Flip your hand and the cup over.
  • Squeeze the base of the cup to force water out through the holes.

This should push anything in the holes out. Some cup designs don’t need air holes, so this is not a concern.

Though some women prefer to use soap to wash the cup, it is not strictly necessary. If you do use soap be sure to avoid antibacterial or scented washes like bubble baths – stick to a pH-balanced wash designed for intimate use instead. A pH-balanced wash will help you avoid irritation and infection from the chemicals and additives that are often in soaps.

Coming Soon
How long have you been using a menstrual cup?

Between periods

Once your period is over, you might want to give your cup a really good clean before you store it, both for peace of mind and to remove any stains. (Some discoloration of the cup is normal and doesn’t affect how safe or effective it is, but some women don’t like the way it looks.) Here are a couple of ways you can give your cup a good deep clean.

Boiling: Boil 3 cups of clean water on the stove. (Tap water is fine if you’re in a place with safe water but if not, use bottled water instead.) Submerge your cup but make sure the cup isn’t touching the bottom or sides of the pot. One way to do this is to put your cup inside a whisk to hold it away from the sides. Boil for 5 – 8 minutes then drain the cup and let it air dry. It is completely safe to boil the cups, but don’t boil the pot dry as this will destroy the silicone. If you feel strange about using a pot you cook with, you can buy a small one specifically for boiling your cup and store it separately.

Sterilizing tablets for baby bottles: These are great because you can use them in cold water so they’re ideal if you live in a dorm room with no access to a stove or just don’t feel comfortable boiling your cup in a shared kitchen. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. These tablets are also great at removing stains.

Additional options to remove stains

Hydrogen peroxide (1%): You can get this from most drug stores or pharmacies. Use one part 1% hydrogen peroxide and one part water. Submerge your cup and let it soak for 24 hours. Give it a good wash to remove all of the hydrogen peroxide residue before using it or storing it.

Apple cider vinegar (diluted in water): This might not do as good a job as the peroxide but it is very easy to find and completely natural. Use one part apple cider vinegar to two parts water. Submerge and soak your cup for 24 hours. If it still smells a bit like vinegar after washing the cup, follow up with a good boiling session.

You can also use a soft brush to gently scrub at any stubborn stains and a toothpick to clean out the air holes if needed.

After washing your cup, always dry it completely before storing it – air drying in a well-ventilated place is best. Be sure to keep the cup in its case or bag to ensure it stays clean between uses. Regularly cleaning and caring for your cup with recommended products only will help it last longer and keep you protected and healthy during your period for years to come.

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54 thoughts on “Menstrual Cup Cleaning and Care

  • Lara Cooke says:

    I’m going into a hostel this year so will not have access to a stove – but instead a microwave and an instant boiling water dispenser.

    I was thinking one way of sterilising my cup is by putting my cup in a bowl of boiling water. I would then put this into a microwave for the recommended boiling time. Would this be safe for the silicon? Is it ok for me to do this as a form of sterilisation?


  • Emily says:

    Can you do this with the Ziggy cup too?

  • Leanne says:

    Can I sanitize my cup in the microwave?

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Leanne! We do not recommend doing this, as boiling water is the safest way to clean your cup without ruining it.

  • Devaki says:

    For before cycle sterilising, is it ok to sterilise the cup few days earlier than your periods start (2/3/4 days?) and then use it directly and how earlier is ok?

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Devaki! That’s definitely okay to do! We just recommend that directly after sterilising you put your cup in a clean, sealed container (like its carry case) or a plastic baggie to ensure it stays clean.

  • Selina says:

    Can i use the lelo antibacterial cleaning spray for clean up the lily cup? Or any spray cleaner which Safe to use on silicone, rubber and latex ?
    Also possible to use steamer for sterilize it?

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Selina! The LELO antibacterial cleaning spray should work as it is a trusted brand for silicone products. However you always take a slight risk when using a 3rd party cleaner because we just can’t guarantee its contents. Similarly, while there are now steam cleaners available for menstrual cups, you would have to follow the manufacturer’s advice but there are too many devices for us to test all of them and guarantee that they are okay to use with your cup.

      When it comes to sterilizing your cup, we recommend boiling because it’s the easiest way to do so with the smallest margin of error. If you tried steam cleaning with a colander or sieve, for example, it would be difficult to guarantee that you had maintained the required temperature perfectly for the right amount of time.

      I hope that helps!

      • Elle says:

        If I’ve accidentally left my cup unattended while boiling and it’s boiled dry, will I need to replace it? There’s no visible damage but I’m not sure if it’s still ok or not.

        • INTIMINA says:

          Hi Elle! If there is no burning or melting to the cup, you should be fine. When you’re next boiling your cup, just be sure to set a timer on your phone!

  • C says:

    Can I steam the cup for sterilisation? Thx

    • Intimina says:


      thank you for contacting us! We strongly advise that you wash your cup with mild soap and warm water. The silicone is very flexible so it is easy to clean in between the folds. For a more thorough cleaning in between periods, we recommend boiling the cup submerged in a pot of water for 5 minutes. You can always contact our customer care for more info.

      Kind Regards,

  • Rach Weights says:

    New user and I forgot I had my cup all snuggled up there. I washed the cup a few times and can’t seem to get the odour out. Are there any tips or tricks?

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Rach!

      The vinegar trick above can help get rid of odours (though it requires extra cleaning to then reduce the vinegar smell). You can also soak or wipe with isopropyl rubbing alcohol, however you should then re-boil your cup before use. I hope that helps!

  • Sazzy says:

    Can i use water based lubrication gel to insert the cup

    • INTIMINA says:


      • Mia says:

        Hi, I heard there’s this product (Bfree mentrual cup) claims their silicone is medical grade and is antibacterial, there is no need to boil. Can that be possible?

        • INTIMINA says:

          Hi Mia! Many people describe the ‘to boil or not to boil’ question as a personal choice. We, along with many companies who use medical grade silicone, recommend boiling cups from both a ‘better safe than sorry’ sanitation aspect, and because it’s part of the care that ensures you can keep on using your cup for years to come!

  • Aksa says:

    Are we supposed to sterilize or wash the carry bag of menstural cup

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Aksa! It would be a good idea to wash your carry case or bag between cycles. If it’s a cloth bag it can just go in the wash and if it’s a plastic case then it can be be washed with warm water and dish soap – just make sure that it dries completely to prevent bacteria growth.

  • miri says:

    Hi, can you please help me with white layer on the cup after boiling? i live in the city with hard water so thats why i boil my cup in drinking water from shop. but after 5mins of boiling cup is covered with white powder which is not easy to clean and it is not crystal clear like before. it turns to matte color. what i suppose to do with that?;/ everyone is so excited to use and i wanna try but cant go over boiling part:/so scared to put something like this inside. please help, thank you very much

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Miri!
      If the white film is being caused by mineral deposits in your water, you should be able to wipe it off (with water or a wet wipe). If it’s not coming off in that way, I would advise contacting our customer care team at

  • Andrew Howard says:

    Great Post! Thank you so much.

  • Malane says:

    What happens if I forgot to boil it in between periods for a few months and now it has a strong plastic odor and developing a greenish color…. should I still use it? I boiled it…

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Malane! If there’s a persistent odour and color change then
      we recommend you stop using it.
      That’s the safest option!

  • Kayla says:

    Hi there,
    Is it okay to boil the kettle and then pour that water into a glass where I can then place my cup in?

  • Sam says:

    I am a hosteller and the only source of boiling hot water in the hostel accessible to me is the microwave. Will it be ok to boil the water first and then place the cup in hot water?

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Sam! Apologies for the delay in answering. Heating water in the microwave and then placing your cup in the hot water is okay (we don’t recommend heating your cup in water inside a microwave) but it will only help clean you cup. For sanitizing your cup, it really needs to be in a rolling boil for 10 minutes (or in a microwave steam bag created for sanitizing). You can read more about the difference between sanitizing and cleaning in this article, and make a choice that feels right to you!

  • Victoria Sozzi says:

    How do you clean the inside of the stem of the lily cup? After boiling I can still see residue inside… I cut the stem off (despite not needing to) to see if this would help but the hole seems to go quite deep.

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Victoria! To clean a hard to read place like within the stem or the holes around the rim, you can use a toothpick! (We recommend that over a pin just as they’re less likely to damage your cup, but you can also soak the toothpick in water for a bit to soften it if you’re still concerned). Hope that helps!

    • Fay says:

      Hi! Is in this way sanitized as well or just cleaned? Thanks!

      • Intimina says:


        thank you for reaching out. If you follow the entire procedure, step by step it is clean and safe to use.

        If you have more questions and you need more help, please contact our customer care.

        Thank you a lot.

        Best regards

  • Emma says:


    I recently bought the lily cup and cannot see anywhere online, on the box, in the instruction manual what to do before your first use. I assume it needs boiling, but it doesn’t say this anywhere? Maybe it doesn’t need boiling? I’m also wondering if my cup came with the incorrect manual as it mentions batteries?
    Please advise ASAP as would like to use this very soon!

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Emma! I’m so sorry about this! You can find the user instructions for the whole Lily Cup Range here. And yes, we do recommend an initial boil before you get started!

  • Jenny says:

    Can you use Divawash to clean your lily cup? What kind of wipes can you use to clean your lily cup in public washrooms?

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Jenny! When it comes to washing your cups at home/in public, there are a ton of different products. Our only advisement regarding specialized washes and wipes is to check the ingredient list closely. Any cleaning solution that is used for our products must be alcohol-free. I hope that helps!

  • selin says:

    hello can i use denture tablets to sterilize?
    thank you

    • Intimina says:

      Hi, thank you for contacting us!

      We strongly advise that you wash your cup with mild soap and warm water, there is no need for a special cleaning product. The silicone is very flexible so it is easy to clean in between the folds. For a more thorough cleaning in between periods, we recommend boiling the cup submerged in a pot of water for 5 minutes.

      Kind Regards,

  • Ioanna says:

    Hi all! I was just wondering if I could sterilize in boiling water the silicone case of the Ziggy cup as well. Thanks for your help!

  • Meghana says:

    I forgot to sterilize my cup after my last period. I just washed it and stored it. Can i sterilize it before my next period and continue using it?

  • M M says:

    I have never used a cup before. Im extremely confused how this works. How it stays in & remove it. Can it get stuck I’m scared of that. How messy is it when removed? How long can u leave it in.

  • Amisha says:

    Can I wash my hands with normal handwash or soap or just with water before removing and reinserting the menstrual cup??

  • Rae says:

    Hi, I know that I am ment to boil the cup before first use, but what about the little case (lily cup one)

  • Dhruvi Soni says:


  • Dhruvi Soni says:

    Hi, we have these great silicone sterilizer containers in India, and I’ve seen them on international sites on google searches too, so maybe your country has one too! 🙂 They are very convenient (and foldable) as you can either just pour boiled water in it, or pour water and then microwave it with the cup inside and the lid closed tight. If you can’t find one, you can just pour boiling water in a regular metal airtight container with the cup in it too. 🙂

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