Emptying and cleaning a cup in the comfort of your own home is convenient and easy. However, what happens if you find that you need to empty, clean, or simply alter the position of your cup while at work, at a friends place, or out and about? For many women, this will be a rare occurrence. With cup capacities ranging from around 21-38ml, this will usually be quite sufficient to allow for 8hrs before the need to empty and rinse your cup. However, in the following instances, you may need to empty, rinse, and re-insert your cup while not in the privacy of your own home:
- If you are a new menstrual cup user and still mastering insertion. You may be having trouble with a ‘slipping cup’, general discomfort, or leaking issues.
- If you are going to be away from home for more than 8 hours. Perhaps for work or travel.
- If you have a heavy flow and need to empty your cup every couple of hours (especially on the first day or two of your cycle).
- You are camping or hiking and only have access to basic toilet facilities (if any) for a long period of time.
If you find yourself in any of the above categories, then the following tips will help make the experience of using your menstrual cup in public places more manageable and less daunting.
1. Wash your hands
As with every other time you need to empty and re-insert your cup, be sure to wash your hands first. Wash your hands before entering the toilet cubicle, and if desired, wet a little toilet tissue and take it in with you as well (this will help wipe your cup clean).
2. Check the toilet paper
It is not uncommon to enter a toilet only to discover that the toilet paper has run out or very close to it! Before you remove your cup, check to make sure there is plenty of toilet paper in your cubicle. This will help prevent an unexpected and potentially messy situation.
3. Get a grip
Make sure you have a good grip on your cup before removing it (you don’t want to drop it!). A good tip is to first dry the base of the cup with some paper towel before removing. This will help you gain a ‘grippier’ grasp when you go to remove it.
4. Just wipe
You don’t have to rinse your cup every time you remove it. If you are in a public toilet and cannot access running water (without washing your cup in the shared wash basins), then simply wipe your cup (and fingers) with some toilet paper. Once emptied and wiped, simply re-insert and then wash your hands as normal as you leave the cubicle. As soon as you return home, or are again in a position to give your cup a proper rinse, do so.
5. Carry a water bottle
If you would like to be able to rinse your cup every time you remove it, carry a small bottle of clean water with you. That way you will be able to give your cup a quick rinse over the toilet, without the need to go out to the sinks. Never use toilet water to clean your cup! While the water may be clean, the germs around and inside the toilet bowl and seat are not.
6. Use Cup Wipes
Carry a couple of spare biodegradable Cup Wipes in your purse. That way you always have a quick and convenient way to wipe out your cup wherever you happen to be. After wiping the cup, give it a quick dry with some toilet paper before re-inserting. Most cup wipes are biodegradable and suitable to flush, put in the compost, or simply place in a sanitary disposal bin (please check product packaging).
7. Flush twice!
Don’t be in a hurry to leave, as you will likely need to flush the toilet more than once. Because you are emptying a fair amount of menstrual blood into the toilet, some can remain in the bottom of the toilet bowl after the first flush. For the benefit of the next toilet user, flush a second time to ensure all the blood is gone. To make this even easier, you can tip the contents of your cup onto some toilet paper first. This will absorb the blood and make flushing it away easier.
8. Plan your toilet stop
If possible, look for toilets that have a sink in the same cubicle as the toilet. These are often dual purpose toilets that are also handicap compliant, and can be found in some large retail chains and shopping centres. Knowing where you will be for the day and thinking about what public toilet options will be available to you can be very helpful. If you choose to use a disabled toilet, please be quick.
9. Buy a second cup
While a second cup is not usually necessary, it can be handy having a spare. In this instance, you could just wipe out your current cup and take it home to wash later. You can then insert a fresh and clean cup for the remainder of your day. A spare is also great to keep in the car should you get caught out while out and about.
10. Practice makes perfect!
It’s an old but a true saying. Try removing, emptying, and cleaning your cup using the above tips while at home. If you can master this in the privacy and comfort of your own home, you will save any potential panic or mess when out and about. You will be confident wherever you go!