So, you’re ready to make the switch to a menstrual cup but the anxiety of how to clean it in public has you second guessing? I have good news – washing your menstrual cup in public is not the horror movie scene you have playing in your mind. I promise, if it were that bad all of your friends wouldn’t have made the switch. Here are 5 easy ways to clean your menstrual cup in public with step-by-step instructions. I can personally endorse number 5 because it’s how I’ve handled public changes for years, but since cups can be worn for 12 hours safely, it’s rare I even have to!
Menstrual Cups Can Be More Convenient Than Tampons
It’s important to point out that you may never even have to empty and wash your menstrual cup in a public bathroom stall. Menstrual cups and discs only need to be washed every 12 hours. If you have an average or light period the chances you will need to empty the contents of either product when you’re out of the house are actually quite slim! Many people, myself included, can put the cup in first thing in the morning and won’t need to empty it until right before bed. That said, if you have a heavier period emptying your cup in a public restroom will come up. Thankfully, there are 5 easy ways to clean your menstrual cup in public without leaving your stall with a blood covered cup in your hands. These tips apply to menstrual discs as well but read all the way through for more helpful disc advice.
1. Pack Cup Wipes for On-The-Go Cleaning
Menstrual cup wipes are easy to pack and a convenient way to clean your cup without every leaving the stall. Brands sell boxes of individually wrapped on the go cup cleaning wipes. I will also tell you a secret – you can buy regular alcohol wipes for less, though these may be smaller than cup wipes depending on the brand. The nice thing about cup wipes is that they are portable and won’t take a lot of space in your bag. Do not confuse cup wipes with harsh, perfumed “feminine wipes.”
When it’s time to empty your cup, have your wipe ready, remove the cup, dump the contents into the toilet, and then wipe the cup clean. You might even want to do a first swipe with toilet paper then use the wipe for a final clean wipedown. If you prefer to avoid one-time use items keep reading.
2. Pack Travel Cup Cleaning Spray
Brands have thought of everything – menstrual cup travel cleaning sprays are portable and multifunction. You can also use sex toy cleaning sprays. Look for brands that are TSA safe, less than 3 ounces, just in case you want to bring yours to destinations much farther from home in your handbag.
To use, after you remove and empty your cup, wipe the blood away with toilet paper first. Then, spray down the inside and outside of the cup. Wipe the cleanser off with toilet paper again and reinsert your clean cup.
These travel sprays can also double as spray on hand sanitizer.
3. Pack A Handheld Bidet or Peri Bottle
Check your kitchen and bathroom cabinets because you might already have the perfect travel squirt bottle for cleaning menstrual cups. A simple peri bottle, the same one many new parents leave the hospital with, works great. If you want to get fancy, you can buy a handheld bidet for this purpose.
You can fill your bottle with water before leaving home or leave it empty and fill it at the sink when you enter the public bathroom to lighten your burden. Then, after your remove and empty your cup, use your bottle to rinse your cup clean over the toilet bowl. You don’t need to wipe it dry before reinserting.
As a bonus, you can use the squirt bottle to cleanse yourself like a bidet and even rinse your hands if needed before you leave the stall.
Saalt now makes a handy Travel Kit that includes a mini peri bottle, compact cup sanitizer, and a TSA friendly bottle of cup wash!
4. Get Resourceful – Use Paper Towels
If you need to clean your cup in a public restroom but you didn’t prepare with wipes, sprays, or bottles, survey for free resources. If the restroom has paper towels grab one when you enter, wet it at the sink, and take it with you to the stall.
After you’ve removed and emptied the cup wipe it clean with your wet paper towel. Then, reinsert the cup.
5. The Lazy Method – Dump and Insert
My preferred way of cleaning a menstrual cup in public is to not clean it. Cups and discs only need to be washed every 12 hours so instead of wiping or rinsing in public I skip that step if I have to dump the contents in a public bathroom stall.
Remove and empty your cup just like you do at home. Then just fold it and insert it again. If you prefer, you can wipe the excess blood with toilet paper before resinserting but that isn’t necessary.
This method requires zero pre-planning or packing which is great because I leave my house with zero pre-planning or forethought and a mostly empty purse.
Winning the Bathroom Lottery
You can’t always predict the type of public restroom you’ll encounter on your journeys but the holy grail is the rare single occupant throne room with a sink. There is nothing more exciting as a cup user than feeling a bubbling sensation, running to the closest restoom, and being greeted by one toilet and one sink behind a lockable door.
Now upi have the option to wash your cup just like you would at home. Do use caution when using public bathroom soaps. There is no telling what is in an unmarked dispenser, and even branded dispensers may contain refills of another, cheaper soap. If it says Aesop it might be a generic soap with unknown ingredients. Those with sensitive skin should skip the bathroom soap and just rinse with water, then wash the cup fully at home later.
Accessible stalls will usually also have a sink but use your best judgement – don’t occupy a stall for the sake of the sink if others are waiting and may need it.
It’s only necessary to wash your cup every 12 hours which for most people means in the morning and before bed at night. If you skip using a cup safe wash as long as you properly clean it twice a day you’re doing it right.
You will also want to follow your product’s instructions for regular cleaning, many brands suggest boiling your cup or disc once a month for sterilization. Period Nirvana offers a full and comprehensive guide to cleaning menstrual cups.
Cleaning Menstrual Discs in Public
Like menstrual cups, reusable menstrual discs also only need to be washed every 12 hours. And like cups, you can follow the same techniques to remove and clean your disc in a public bathroom stall. That said, discs can be messier to remove and handle. For this reason you might prefer options like traveling with a bottle of water for rinsing, or travel sprays.
Unlike cups, menstrual discs offer a perk that cups don’t when it comes to heavy periods and frequent emptying. Discs have the potential to self-empty over a toilet. Self-emptying is a special super power (or bug, depending on who you ask) that allows some of the contents of a disc to release while sitting on the toilet and pushing. Not every disc user will be able to self-empty, either on cue or unintentially. This special feature does mean that people with heavy periods can empty their disc in public without ever needing to physcially remove it! This has been a lifesaver to many and the motivation to start using discs for others.
Related Resource: Auto-Dumping Menstrual Discs Explained
Scary? Yes. Impossible? No.
The thought of having to deal with a menstrual cup in public can often be enough to skip them altogether. Even without planning ahead it’s managable, however, if you prepare with cup wipes or spray it can make your experience a little breezier. Not everyone likes the idea of skipping a rinse or wash so if thats you, plan ahead.
If it turns out that public cleaning is not for you it’s always ok to change up the product you use to make a day out less stressful. It’s your period and you get to decide.