Can I still use these? Tampon edition.
May 8, 2016 7:31 PM   Subscribe

I have about 100 tampons that got wet under the sink sometime in the past five hours. They're not exactly soaked, but they're all decidedly damp (wrapped in paper), and the cardboard applicators kind of collapse if pushed on. Is it safe to use them if they can be dried out? If so, how best to quickly & thoroughly dry them out?

(Related question: appropriate amount to dock a six-year-old's allowance for managing to use the sink in such a way as to ruin tampons excitedly purchased during a Mother's Day trip to Target today, as a multiple of replacement cost? UGH.)
posted by cogitron to Health & Fitness (23 answers total)
Noooooooo don't use them. You just don't want to put this previously damp thing up in your Lady Area. Seriously. If it's a financial hardship to replace 100 damp tampons I will PayPal you $20. But don't use them.
posted by kate blank at 7:34 PM on May 8, 2016 [105 favorites]

I would say decidedly not. I wouldn't want to insert something into my body that had been exposed to god-knows-what that was in the water. I'd take the loss.
posted by clone boulevard at 7:35 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

No. You're worth the money to replace them.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 7:36 PM on May 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

I think put the driest on a baking cooling rack, maybe with a fan blowing on them. Any that look like they are expanding should probably be tossed because I can't imagine they will be comfortable. Any not dry in 24 hours should probably be tossed. Put the remainder in a sealed ziploc. If they are all damp to the state of coming to pieces, I think they are a loss.
posted by amanda at 7:36 PM on May 8, 2016

Being absorbent, I'm not certain they will dry thoroughly and quickly enough to prevent any manner of spores etc. from growing on them. I'm sorry.
posted by cecic at 7:39 PM on May 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

This is not something that requires a harsh punishment for a six year old. You're the one who put them close enough to the sink to be ruined by water. While I'll believe the implication that the child may have gone a little crazy with the water, I don't think this warrants any more discussion beyond "you made the water go where it shouldn't and ruined some things that aren't supposed to get wet and now mom has to replace them. They cost money and this makes mom sad. Wasting water also costs money. This is why we have rules about how to use the sink."
posted by ellenaim at 7:45 PM on May 8, 2016 [29 favorites]

Nope nope nope don't use them.
Make the kid buy you one normal sized box of them and then laugh it off and do science experiments with the ruined ones.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:48 PM on May 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Mold. No. Please don't. Oh, gosh. Even if you can't see it, mold, bacteria - no.

Incidentally, Mythbusters did an episode on the "5 Second Rule" - basically, is it safe to eat food that has dropped on the floor?

The results were that dry food (crackers, toast) did not pick up any beasties and was safe. Anything moist or wet picked up beasties.

Your tampons were in an enclosed area. I'm going to hip you to the fact that water from pipes is not bacteria-free + the enclosed area under your sink has mold spores and other stuff, guaranteed.

Please. No.
posted by jbenben at 7:50 PM on May 8, 2016 [15 favorites]

I just saw that you were wondering about child issues... As someone who used to manage plumbing issues as part of greater responsibilities, I can 100% promise you that at some point for some reason leaks happen under pipes. Never ever ever store anything paper or cloth under your sink.

There is no punishment here. Sorry.

Have a conversation about wasting water and being mindful of making messes. That's about it. Oh! Hug your child and tell them you love them.
posted by jbenben at 7:54 PM on May 8, 2016 [17 favorites]

Is it safe to use them if they can be dried out?

No. You have absolutely no idea what tiny beasties were swimming in the water that dampened them, and incubating those inside your body is not a good way to find out.

appropriate amount to dock a six-year-old's allowance

posted by flabdablet at 7:59 PM on May 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

Absolutely not worth it!! I would throw those out in a hot minute. They can't be sterilized or cleaned, and you don't want whatever might be growing on those introduced into your body.
posted by prewar lemonade at 8:00 PM on May 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

NONONONONONO!!!! Throw them away. This is not a salvageable situation.

Explain to child that they ruined something very expensive and that a sink should be used for handwashing and other appropriate activities and not for flooding water adventures.
posted by quince at 8:01 PM on May 8, 2016

Alternate uses for your traditionally unusable tampons I found online:

Quickly absorbing spills in the car (might have those with a 6 year old!)
Kindling to start fires
Alternative paint brushes
Other arts and crafts projects
posted by cecic at 8:02 PM on May 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

No, definitely not. Not worth the risk. And PS I get that you weren't seriously asking for punishment advice. You were telling us what happened in a " Oh god this is so awful it funny" kind of way.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 8:02 PM on May 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

WOW thanks everyone! You have also answered my secondary question, "Is there sufficient disagreement about safety that it's okay to leave these where guests might use them?" I'll toss them.

Also sorry to cause any concern about the kiddo! He has also flooded the basement twice in the past few weeks (again via a combination of weird plumbing and... creative use of it), so some exasperation came through in what was meant as a joke. He won't really be punished. (After sleeping on it I might still have him buy me a pack. The alternative is he insists on spending his allowance on yogurt we get for him anyway...)
posted by cogitron at 8:03 PM on May 8, 2016 [8 favorites]

Agh no. Sorry you lost 100! Damn. You were all stocked up. Maybe someone can think of some art projects or other uses.

The thing about tampons is they are meant to absorb moisture, and pull it to the core, so just because the outside may eventually feel dry does not mean the core hasn't been basically incubating bacteria for hours or days. The thing about undersink bathroom cabinets is that they are not in any way a sanitary area. They are dark and damp the bathroom.

I would not risk it and I'm not a germophobe-- I eat expired food-- and I reuse everything, can't throw useful items away. Nope. Tampons go inside of you and stay there for hours! Would you eat a piece of bread that was dropped in a puddle under the sink if it dried out?
posted by kapers at 8:04 PM on May 8, 2016 [8 favorites]

I would absolutely impose a financial consequence on the kid if recklessness has been involved. However, it would be largely symbolic. I'd set the price at a dollar or two, depending on how much his allowance is (I'm assuming $5 or less; if it's closer to $10 he should buy you a pack.)

HOWEVER, I would not dock his allowance. I would make him go get the dollars out of his piggy bank and hand them to you. I made my 5yo pay me a dollar to help pay for the shirt he cut a hole in, and it made more of an impression than not receiving one in the first place.

Be very matter of fact - you did X, which caused Y, and now it will cost me $Z to rectify the situation. You are a kid, so you don't have to pay all of it, but you do need to help pay for what you ruined and your part costs $2.

And don't use soggy tampons.
posted by telepanda at 8:15 PM on May 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Annnd that was meant to be either "sufficient disagreement that it's not okay" or "sufficient agreement that it's okay," i.e. only if there had been unanimous agreement that damp tampons were totally fine could I let guests possibly find and use them. Which there is not.

(And I am really really sorry for any concern caused about my son! I guess I feel lucky that it didn't even occur to me that the "punishment" question might be taken so seriously. Whoops.)
posted by cogitron at 8:20 PM on May 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Re: Punishment, my thing is to make the kid go buy the replacement with me instead of whatever else was planned for the afternoon. It's sufficiently booooooooooriiiing to teach that taking care of stuff is better than havong to go buy new stuff!
posted by Omnomnom at 3:01 AM on May 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

If you're near a Container Store or someplace like it, a cheap (less than $2) clear plastic shoebox might make a nice additional Mother's Day gift. It's what I store my lady things in having also learned the hard way.
posted by pointystick at 4:58 AM on May 9, 2016 [11 favorites]

posted by chainsofreedom at 7:08 AM on May 9, 2016

FWIW, I've been using the less enviornmentally friendly but slightly less expensive CVS brand tampons with plastic applicator in plastic wrapping and they are perfectly good. (In case you are worried about future flooding)
posted by maryr at 10:25 AM on May 9, 2016

Oh, cecic, the tampon crafts! I love the googly eyed tampon ghost. And it amuses me to imagine the young miscreant being made to wear a tampon toupe around the house as punishment.
posted by BoscosMom at 4:09 PM on May 9, 2016

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