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I have a fantastic opportunity to take an indefinite trip traveling through Central and South America in just a few weeks. I'm really excited about it! I also really love my large Fleurcup and plan to take it with me. What I'm concerned about, however, is changing and rinsing it (and keeping my hands clean while doing so) in areas where the water is not safe to drink (which will likely be most places I am staying). It seems to me that this would pose a threat of infection, would it not? I'm guessing I will have to utilize my bottled drinking water for cleaning my cup, but I'd prefer to reserve that for drinking if possible, because I just know I'll waste a ton of it before I get a system down. Does anyone have any tips or tricks they could share with me for cup use in third-world countries?
Belleravynwitch on March 18th, 2014 10:52 pm (UTC)
Could you bring small packs of baby wipes to use to clean it?
Beanihatepickles on March 18th, 2014 10:59 pm (UTC)
That's not a bad idea. Though I would want to make sure to find ones that are totally biodegradable and free of chemicals. My other hesitance is that I wouldn't want to bring a ton because I'll be living out of a backpack, and I have a feeling I won't be able to replenish them once I run out on the road. And ideally, I'd like not to produce that much waste (which is a big reason I switched to cups in the first place)... I will look into that though! Thanks. :)

Edited at 2014-03-18 11:03 pm (UTC)
xquizite_insomxquizite_insom on March 18th, 2014 11:17 pm (UTC)
They have compressed napkins that are made out of plant fiber. When compressed they are about the size of a nickel. They are activated literally with a few drops of water. Once activated they are about 7 inches by 9 inches and very strong. They are totally biodegradable and a roll of 10 takes op as much space as a roll of quarters. Once used, you can just bury them. One company is Wysi wipes.
Beanihatepickles on March 26th, 2014 10:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestion! Whether I use them for my cup or not, those seem like a pretty cool/useful invention! They're a bit pricey considering they are disposable, but I'll definitely consider it. :)
xquizite_insomxquizite_insom on March 27th, 2014 12:47 am (UTC)
Wysi wipes are pricey, but there are several brands on sale at baby stores, camping stores, on Amazon and ebay.
Alwynsabishii_kirito on March 18th, 2014 11:42 pm (UTC)
I traveled through some countries where running water wasn't always available or safe. When I wanted to clean my cup, I would soak it in a water/tea tree oil mix or wipe it down with some alcohol hand sanitizer. Tea tree oil comes in really small bottles and you only need a few drops diluted per cleansing so it lasts forever. When traveling through places with questionable water, hand sanitizer is good to have handy for insertion and removal anyway. Another option, if you go to hostels or hotels, is to ask for boiling water for your room. I don't know about the Americas, but in parts of Asia electric kettles or hot water thermoses are supplied in rooms due to the water issues and/or tea drinking.

I tended to leave my cup in more when I was traveling. Usually I leave it out at night and use pads, but I didn't have space to bring everything I would have liked, so I left my cup in for the entirety of my period and didn't do a full cleanse/soak until it was over. If I wanted to get all of the blood off when emptying it, I would just wipe it down with TP, but I got tired of doing that and just put it back in slightly bloody.

The main time I used bottled water for anything but drinking was when I was cleaning myself. I often had to go several days without showering. I used babywipes sometimes, and others I would dampen a clean t-shirt with water and wipe myself down. If I got really smelly I would add a few drops of TTO to the water, but if you do that be careful around your genitals as it can sting when it's too concentrated.

If you're really worried about clean water, you could also grab some iodine or a portable water filter. One of my friends used iodine when she drank tap water where the water was unsafe, and I had a water filter I would use. There are other options like specialized lights, and they all have their pros and cons. If you're going really far off the beaten track, finding one that could help you with drinking water emergencies and/or water for sanitation uses might not be a bad idea.

That all said, even with the most careful water usage, you'll still probably get sick. You'll be brushing your teeth in the water, showering in it, eating food cooked in it... My stomach was messed up for a good part of my trip through Asia, and I cooked most of my food and filtered and/or boiled (or bought) all of the water I used. I assume there were other factors that I don't know about, but... Just be prepared for some unpleasant time spent in the bathroom, even when you don't have food poisoning :p

Sorry this got so long. I had the same concerns before my trip, and even though the countries were different, I was worried about everything. It all turned out well in the end, but it's still good to have at least a small idea of what to expect.
Beanihatepickles on March 26th, 2014 10:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks a lot for sharing your experience! I have purchased a water filter for drinking (Sawyer Mini), and I think I may just get practiced at squirting my cup clean with that, or simply reinsert while it's still a bit bloody. Ideally, I won't wipe it with toilet paper, because I don't like the idea of getting bits of bleached fiber into me (a big reason I switched to cups in the first place).

I do anticipate getting sick a lot, which will suck.. :/ I tend to have a pretty tough stomach, but it is inevitable I'm sure. I'll try to wash my hands and fruits/veggies with filtered water, but that won't always be an option. Hand sanitizer is probably a good idea, too, despite my aversion to chemicals. I'll consider that, especially for cup removal/insertion purposes.

Do you think I'd be better off bringing iodine or TTO if I can't boil my cup and want to sanitize it at the end of my period?
Luceafaraluceafara on March 19th, 2014 02:37 am (UTC)
I'd bring one of those water bottles that have a built in filter and a second cup just in case. If you can't take a shower every day, I whole heartedly recommend wearing a cup every day, including off-period - you'll feel clean so much longer if you can't wash for a few days!! Just swap it out or wash it out once a day,

Edited at 2014-03-19 02:38 am (UTC)
Beanihatepickles on March 26th, 2014 10:41 pm (UTC)
I did end up buying a small water filter, which comes with a squeeze pouch that screws on to the end of it, so I can try to rinse my cup that way. Thanks for the suggestion. I'm not terribly worried about feeling "clean" though, I'm used to showering about once every 5-7 days. But I did also take your advice and ordered a second cup to take with me.
90subaru on March 19th, 2014 03:31 am (UTC)
I was going to suggest iodine. Just a few drops can purify and cleanse water.
Sarcasticia Nitpickersontisiphone on March 19th, 2014 08:18 am (UTC)
You don't actually have to clean it if you're just emptying it out and putting it back in. You could just use some tissues to wipe it off, and then when you're done bleeding rinse it out with some bottled water. Or, you could get a steripen or some iodine treatment tablets and sterilize local water to clean your cup with. Alternatively, start rinsing it with bottled water now, so you're efficient at it when you really need to.