5 Easy Tips to Consider When Cleaning Breast Pump Parts
Should you clean your breast pump parts after each use? The answer is a resounding yes! With an established cleaning routine (and some tips to help!), you can feel comfortable and confident as you begin building a supply of pumped milk for your baby.
Why Cleaning Breast Pump Parts is So Critical
Think of it as an investment in protecting your liquid gold. Doing so starts and ends with proper hygiene and clean pump parts for every pumping session. Contaminated – or used – pump parts that haven’t been cleaned prior to use can pass germs and bacteria into your breast milk, exposing your baby to potential infections.
Keeping your breast pump, parts and breast milk storage containers squeaky-clean is especially important if your baby is younger than 2 months old, was born premature or has a weakened immune system.
Distinguish Between Cleaning and Sanitizing
Remember, these are two separate tasks! Cleaning is focused on thoroughly washing surfaces to remove old milk residues and other potential contaminants. Pump parts should be cleaned after every pumping session.
As for sanitizing, this task should be done at least once per day. A good rule of thumb is to sanitize every evening, so your pump and kit are ready to go for the next day.
What Breast Pump Parts Get Cleaned?
Once you’ve safely stored your milk after a pumping session, it’s time to disassemble the breast pump kit and pump parts to be cleaned. Parts that get cleaned include your breast shields, outer shells and membranes. Be sure to follow your breast pump’s Instructions for Use for detailed cleaning guidelines.
Tubing typically does not need to be cleaned, unless you notice milk, condensation or other debris in the tubing. Carefully follow your breast pump’s Instructions for Use regarding cleaning the tubing or determining if it needs to be replaced.
The pump motor should never be immersed in water. If needed, you can wipe down the outside of the breast pump unit with a damp cloth or cleaning wipe.
Helpful Tips for Cleaning Breast Pump Parts
Tip #1: Get Familiar with CDC Guidelines and Your Pump’s Instructions for Use
A good place to start is by carefully reading through the instruction guide for your breast pump, especially if it’s a new pump. Reviewing the instructions and cleaning guidelines will help you feel comfortable assembling, disassembling and properly cleaning your pump parts. If you own a Medela breast pump but can’t find the instruction booklet that came with your pump, you can find them for all our breast pumps here.
Don’t forget to also brush up on the CDC’s guidelines on how to keep your breast pump clean!
Tip #2: Choose Your Methods for Cleaning and Sanitizing
Whether you’re primarily pumping at home, at work or on the go, you can choose from these cleaning methods to ensure you always have fresh pump parts ready for you:
- Cleaning with a Basin: Fill a clean wash basin with warm, soapy water. Soak your disassembled parts for about 5 minutes and then clean each with a brush or sponge used exclusively for your breast pump parts and milk storage containers. (Using your kitchen sponge can spread germs!)
Be sure to rinse thoroughly and air-dry your pump parts on clean paper towels or a drying rack designed only for pump parts.
- Cleaning with a Dishwasher: Place your pump parts on the top rack of your dishwasher and run a hot cycle. If you have a sanitization setting, run that as well – That’s a great option to both clean and sanitize your pump parts. When removing clean parts from the dishwasher, allow them to finish drying on clean paper towels before storing or reassembling.
- Sanitizing with Boiling Water: Fill a clean pot with water and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, add your disassembled pump parts. You can lower the heat and leave the pump parts in for about 10 minutes before removing with tongs and placing on a clean surface to fully air-dry.
- Sanitizing with Steaming (Microwave): Steaming is a great option if you don’t always have access to a dishwasher or you’re on the go. Simply place all your pump parts (except the tubing!) into a Quick Clean™ Micro-Steam™ Bag. These bags thoroughly disinfect pump parts in about 3 minutes and eliminate 99.9% of the most common bacteria and germs. Bonus: Moms love that you can use each bag up to 20 times.
Tip #3: Create the Optimal Cleaning Station for Your Needs
For your home cleaning station:
- Wash basin
- Soft brush or sponge
- Water (drinking quality)
- Soap designed for removing breast milk residues – avoid any harsh chemicals
- Drying rack or roll of paper towels to air-dry parts
For your workplace (if working away from home):
- Water (can be from an unopened water bottle if you don’t have access to a sink!)
- Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags designed for breast pump parts
- Drying rack or roll of paper towels to air-dry parts
What if I’m on the go?
Life is busy with a little one (or two, or three!) – and you’re bound to find yourself using your breast pump in all kinds of places that may be less than ideal for a thorough clean-up session. At Medela, we recognize the need for safe cleaning options that can be used for breast pump parts (as well as high chairs, changing tables, toys and more) while eliminating 99.9% of germs on hard, non-porous surfaces. Be sure to carry these in your bag when you’re on the move:
- Quick Clean™ Breast Pump & Accessory Sanitizer Spray
- Quick Clean™ Breast Pump & Accessory Wipes
- An extra set of clean pump parts can also be helpful, especially if you’ll be out and about for more than one pumping session.
Tip #4: Don’t Dismiss the Importance of Proper Drying
It might be tempting to swoop up your clean pump parts and pack them up right away. Resist the urge and instead make sure to let them air-dry until they’re completely dry! It’s really important that all pump parts are thoroughly dry to prevent germ and mold growth. Also, avoid reassembling your pump parts until they’re fully dry too.
Tip #5: Enlist Occasional Cleaning Helpers!
We know you know – Mamas get tired. Breastfeeding and pumping can already be an extra time gobbler, so enlist your spouse or other support people to help with pump clean-up. Though only you can provide liquid gold to your baby, it’s an easy way for them to make a helpful difference and feel included in your breastfeeding journey.
We suggest printing a copy of the CDC’s fact sheet to keep on hand as a reminder when it comes to cleaning and best practices. Stick it on the fridge, on the wall near your cleaning station or wherever it can be easily seen when prepping to clean and/or sanitize.
More Tips for Cleaning Breast Pump Parts
- Always wash your hands before handling any clean pump parts.
- To prevent the growth of germs, it’s always best to clean pump parts right after using them.
- Don’t place pump parts directly in the sink or wash them alongside dirty dishes.
- Don’t use any disinfectants or harsh chemicals to clean your pump parts.
- Make it a habit to carefully inspect each pump part during your cleaning sessions. This will help you easier identify damage, wear and tear or whether a specific part should be replaced soon.
- Store dry pump parts in a cool, clean spot away from dirt and dust.