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How and When to Clean and/or Sterilize Your Breast Pump Parts

Tips from BeauGen on how and when to clean your breast pump parts and accessories.

Next to producing and storing nutritious breast milk for your baby, cleaning your breast pump parts is extremely important. Each pump has a series of parts, some which are exposed to your breast milk and others which are not. All of these pump parts will need cleaned, but how? How often do they need to be cleaned? 

To help clear up some of the many questions surrounding breast pumps, their parts, and how to clean them, we’ve pulled together some tips. Watch the video or read on for our tips and suggestions.

How to Clean Your Breast Pump Parts

Sterilization

Boiling the Parts

Dismantle your pump so that all of the parts are separated and in a container that can handle boiling hot water. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the boiling water to the container holding your breast pump parts. Allow the parts to soak in the boiling water for between 5-10 minutes.

Microwaving Pump Parts

Steam bags can be used to sanitize your breast pump parts in the microwave. Using the method provides all of the benefits of boiling your parts, in a fraction of the time. You can find these bags in many retail stores and online from your pump manufacturer, or large retailers like Amazon. To use these bags, simply place your parts into the bag, add a bit of water, and check the instructions for the recommended amount of time. You can find Medela's here, and Evenflo's here.

Pro Tip: When the microwave timer finishes, open the microwave and allow the bag to cool before touching it or remove the bag from the microwave using oven mitts. The bag and its contents will be very hot. Also, make sure no little ones are underfoot as you move the bag from the microwave to the sink.

Hand washing your breast pump parts.

Washing Pump Parts by Hand or in the Dishwasher

Hand Washing

Using a mild soap is the best way to clean almost all of your breast pump parts. It’s easy on your hands, but also keeps the plastic and rubber pieces from breaking down like some sterilization methods can over time. Regular dish soap works just fine, but you can also find specific soaps for breast pump parts, bottles, and baby toys.

Pro tip: It's best to use soaps without added fragrances for babies. These perfumes can sometimes irritate their skin and their tiny senses. You can find a safe option from BabyGanics here, and Dapple Baby here.

Dishwasher

Using a dishwasher to clean your breast pump parts.

Many breast pump flanges and bottles are dishwasher safe. Double check the manufacturer recommendations before using the dishwasher because of the high heat. Using the dishwasher can save loads of time for busy moms. There are downsides, though. Some parts will still need to be hand washed to reach all of the little crevices. Other parts, such as membranes and valves, will break down under the high heat of the dishwasher.

How Frequently Should You Wash Your Breast Pump Parts?

This is a tricky question to answer, we’ll provide some general information below but for the best answer for your situation, it's best to consult a healthcare professional or a lactation specialist.

After Every Use: 

Ideally we want to clean our pump parts after every pumping session. You are doing a tremendous amount of work to provide the optimal nutrition for your baby, and you’ll want to safeguard that from bacteria. Moms with sensitive babies like NICU or preemie babies will want to clean or sterilize their pump parts after every use. 

Pump Cleaning Wipes:

Working moms might have just enough time to pump, or they may not feel comfortable cleaning breast pump parts in the company break room or bathroom sink. Cleaning wipes offer these moms and others the confidence of cleaning pump parts without the soap and water. Many major pump manufacturers provide cleaning wipes that are safe to use for your breast pump. These wipes help you to clean the various parts of the pump which come into contact with breast milk after each use. In a pinch, a baby wipe will work too. Here's a link to Medela's cleaning wipes. Dapple also offers wipes that can be purchased at online or at stores like Target.

Breast Pump cleaning wipes

Refrigeration of Pump Parts to Clean for Later:

Cleaning your breast pump parts after each and every use is not always realistic. Working moms and exclusive pumping moms use their pumps throughout the day. For these women, cleaning all of the pump parts after each use would take up a major portion of their day. There are some ways that you can skip a wash or two, and still protect your milk and your baby from bacteria. Grab a gallon baggie or two. After each pump, empty your pump and place your parts into these baggies. Seal them up tight, and refrigerate them with your breast milk until you can get home to clean them later.

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