if it seems clean, do I need to sanitize it?
November 7, 2010 12:49 PM   Subscribe

MensesFilter: What are the potential ill-effects of using a clean but unsanitized (as in boiling) DivaCup?

I'm in a context where it's quite difficult/awkward to get access to a pot and a kitchen to boil my DivaCup to sanitize it. When I last finished using My Cup, I rinsed and washed it thoroughly a couple times with soap and water, cleaned out the holes with a pin. I let it air dry on a piece of tissue on the countertop and then is sat uncovered on an open shelf in my kitchen for several weeks.

Do you think it could cause me any sort of hurt or infection if I use it in this state or should I figure out some way to sanitize it?
posted by dahliachewswell to Health & Fitness (21 answers total)
Bacterial infections aren't a whole lot of fun. I was in a similar position last cycle and I just used tampons instead, rather than risk it.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:56 PM on November 7, 2010

I never boil my cup. I usually just rinse it off with water. Occasionally I use soap also. I've been doing this for several months, no problems.

My understanding is that bacteria can't grow on silicone so as long as you rinse the crud off it, it's fine.
posted by Lobster Garden at 12:57 PM on November 7, 2010

Oh and tampons aren't sterile so I don't know why they'd be safer to use.
posted by Lobster Garden at 1:00 PM on November 7, 2010

The DivaCup website says "Washing the cup in mild soap and warm water provides sufficient cleansing." If I were you, though, I'd wash it again immediately before using it. You don't know what's drifted or splashed onto it in the last few weeks.
posted by synchronia at 1:00 PM on November 7, 2010

Response by poster: Ok, this helpful. I might add that I am in a developing country where water is not drinkable/has giardia in it. Should I still rinse and wash it again right before, do you think? As long as I let it dry again after, maybe?
posted by dahliachewswell at 1:02 PM on November 7, 2010

Do you have access to rubbing alcohol? You can also give it quick wipe down with a bit of rubbing alcohol and a tissue. That might be safer than using giardia water.
posted by Lobster Garden at 1:06 PM on November 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

You need to sterilize the water. This is why women in developing countries will often request disposable menstrual products....because they have limited access to clean water necessary for cleaning reusable devices.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 1:12 PM on November 7, 2010

The FAQ on the cup's website (can't link directly to the question, but it's "Can I use The DivaCup in developing countries? What about potable water?" under the "Sports and Traveling" section) says:

The most important thing is to use potable water. Using bottled water is good, but the quality of the bottled water does make a difference. Should the bottled water you use be less than clean (which can happen) it could cause a problem, so we ask you to be careful about the quality of the bottled water.

You must use potable water to clean The DivaCup to avoid infection. You must boil the water and clean The DivaCup, as well as the outside vulval area, with the cooled down, boiled water and a little mild soap (such as The DivaWash). Then rinse the cup again, and air dry. As always, please remember to wash your hands before this process and before using The DivaCup. When not in use, store your cup in a cotton bag (as provided). This will allow air flow.

So while soap and water are sufficient normally, I think the giardia water is a no-go.
posted by emumimic at 1:15 PM on November 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

I tend to be very lax about sanitizing mine (I just wash it with some soap), but BIG RED FLAGS about being in a developing country with unsafe drinking water.

Can you at least boil/sterilize the water, put it in a container, and then use it to wash the diva cup with soap later?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:17 PM on November 7, 2010

Is there any way you could get a plug-in kettle to boil the water in? That would eliminate the awkward/difficult kitchen factor.
posted by SugarAndSass at 1:28 PM on November 7, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everybody!

The options that I think I will put into use are:

rubbing alcohol sterilizing it without further washing or washing it with boiled water and soap.

awesome! I'm so glad I don't have to boil it itself every time.
posted by dahliachewswell at 1:44 PM on November 7, 2010

I have never sanitized my Diva cup, and natural flora are good at flushing things out, so I wouldn't worry too much.

Yes, if you can wash it and let it dry thoroughly, that should be good. After all, we wash utensils and such in non-potable water, and as long as they're dry, no one sanitizes them before eating.

I'm guessing the DivaCup folks have to be very careful, and in that same interest, I'd have to say it probably wouldn't hurt to clean it in thoroughly boiled water as soon as you can.
posted by ldthomps at 1:50 PM on November 7, 2010

I never use boiling water or heat for sanitizing my cups, but I do use Milton sterilizing tablets and regular temp water, and it's incredibly easy (pop a quarter or even less of a tablet in some water, let the cup sit in the solution for 30 minutes, rinse, and you're done).
posted by so_gracefully at 3:21 PM on November 7, 2010

Yeah, I used my diva cup in the Peace Corps and cleaned it out with soap/water, and then a good squirt of rubbing alcohol. Never had any issues.
posted by zug at 5:15 PM on November 7, 2010

I use a diaphragm as a menstrual cup. I have for, oh, ten or so years now. I've never sanitized. Just soap, water, and air dry. No troubles.
posted by Leta at 5:24 PM on November 7, 2010

I use hydrogen peroxide instead of alcohol and then let it oar dry. So if you have that available, that might be an option.
posted by Madamina at 6:43 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Air dry. AIR dry.
posted by Madamina at 6:44 PM on November 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yeah, peroxide here too, no issues.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 7:51 PM on November 7, 2010

Another vote for hydrogen peroxide if you have access to it.
posted by platinum at 8:02 PM on November 7, 2010

Just a comment, not sure how it would affect silicone, but I use a lot of hand sanitizer and on rubber products (i.e. The Keeper), repeated exposure to the alcohol could cause cracking and drying of the material.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:50 PM on November 7, 2010

Anecdotally, rubbing alcohol did not affect my divacup, I've been using the same one since 2005 with no cracking or ill effects. A quick search on the internet suggests that it will not cause silicone to deteriorate (this is applicable to silicone *ahem* personal toys), which I believe are the same type of silicone as a divacup.
posted by zug at 5:13 PM on November 8, 2010

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