It’s Funky, But Not In a Fun Way

At GladRags, we hear it all: the good, the bad, and the funky. From helping our customers navigate their first C-folds, to stain removal, we’re here to guide you through all of the possibilities of menstrual cup usage. Today, we’re going to discuss what happens when your cup no longer has that “new cup smell” and how to get it fresh once again. 

As with staining, the likelihood of developing funk varies from person to person. Based on your unique pH, you may or may not deal with staining or unpleasant odors. Since we’ve already touched on what to do when your cup is getting a bit rusty, here’s what you can do to prevent lingering odors in your XO Flo or other silicone menstrual cup. 

A person's hand holds a sudsy menstrual cup.
A simple sudsy wash with fragrance-free soap keeps stains and odors at bay.

Remove & Wash More Frequently With Fragrance-Free Soap

While all menstrual cups must be removed and washed every 12 hours, you can do so as often as you please. Personally, I remove and wash with soap each time I empty my cup because I’m prone to having a stained cup. The important thing to remember is to use a fragrance-free, gentle, body-safe soap. If you’re just using scented hand soap, that could have effects on your delicate inner workings: that fragrance was not intended to be in extended contact with the mucous membranes of your body, just the skin on your hands for a brief 20 seconds. Keeping your pH balanced will help prevent funkiness, so always avoid using scented soaps on your cup. I’ve always kept a bottle of fragrance-free castile soap on hand exclusively for cup washing because it cleans well and rinses completely — both qualities that are imperative for menstrual cup care.

Store Your Cups in Cloth

After a wash, rinse thoroughly before putting your cup in its natural fiber bag so that it is kept clean while still allowing air flow. An air-tight container will only amplify any funk clinging to that silicone. You can take the airflow idea even further by sunning your cup on a windowsill. Fresh air and sunlight are a fantasticly free combo to keep your cup fresh and when used in combination with our other recommendations can really cut down on, or prevent, lingering scents. 

An opaque white menstrual cup sits on top of an orange fabric bag.
XO Flo and XO Flo Mini each come with their own cloth bag for safely storing your menstrual cup between uses.

Give Your Cup a Hydrogen Peroxide Soak

Just as hydrogen peroxide (yes, that stuff in the brown bottle!) is great for removing stains from silicone, it can also help to remove some funk, as well as prevent it from building with monthly use. Instead of boiling my cup, which I don’t find necessary with regular washing, I typically do a hydrogen soak overnight after my cycle ends. While silicone is non-porous, it can become stained and hold onto scents, even if it’s perfectly clean. The hydrogen peroxide helps to break up stains and smells in a gentle manner. This trick still works if you dilute your soaking solution so it’s half hydrogen peroxide and half water.

While the medical-grade silicone of XO Flo is plenty tough for regular soaking, hydrogen peroxide can be rough on the natural fibers of GladRags pads. We recommend only using it to spot-treat stains, avoiding the wings and snaps and rinsing it out promptly.

A clear glass jar sits on a shelf next to a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and a menstrual cup.
Soak your cup in a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution to minimize staining.

Try an Alcohol Wipe-Down

Doing a wipe-down with rubbing alcohol on the surface of your cup could help with odor as well. Because alcohol can be absorbed by silicone before it evaporates, you may notice a bit of swelling after wiping down a cup, but it should go back to normal quickly. I haven’t noticed swelling in my personal experience, but because of that I would save this trick as a last resort. Splash a bit of rubbing alcohol onto a cotton flannel cloth and wipe the inside and outside of the cup. As always, thoroughly wash with gentle soap and water after the cup has dried. I tried this trick after pulling a funky cup out of storage and trying all of the above to only partial success, and the alcohol wipe-down worked.

Find more tips and tricks about cleaning & care for cloth pads and menstrual cups on GladRags.com.