How to clean a breast pump

For those moms working outside the home who are breastfeeding their babies — and those who travel or for other reasons can’t be with their child throughout the day — using a breast pump to express milk is a must.

But what’s the best way to keep your breast pump clean? Here are a few tips to help.

Of course, for specific information about cleaning your specific breast pump, check the pump’s instruction manual for the manufacturer-recommended method of cleaning.

Cleaning breastpump parts

All breast pump parts that come in contact with breast milk, such as bottles, valves and breast shields, should be cleaned after each use. It is not possible to completely sterilize breast pump parts at home, even if you boil them.

The good news is that sterilization is not necessary to keep these parts safe and sanitary. You can keep your pump clean by thoroughly washing away germs and bacteria with liquid dishwashing soap and warm water.

baby-breast-pump-breastmilkSome breast pumps parts can be put in the top rack of a dishwasher, but be sure to consult your instruction manual to make sure pieces are dishwasher safe before you put them in the dishwasher to make sure they won’t warp, melt or suffer other damage.

It is not necessary to clean breast pump tubing unless it comes in contact with breast milk. If you wash your tubing, make sure you hang it to air dry before attaching it to your breast pump. If small water drops (condensation) appear in the tubing after you have pumped, turn the pump on for a few minutes until the tubing is dry.

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Microwave sterilizers are available for breast pump parts, but these sterilizers do not meet the FDA definition of sterilization. However, they will sanitize the parts, which is sufficient for processing between uses when only you are using the pump.

Cleaning the electrical unit for a powered breast pump

Electrical units, which hold the motor and batteries, should be wiped down with a clean paper towel or soft cloth after each use.

The electrical unit should never be put into water or other liquids for cleaning. It should also never be cleaned using a microwave sterilizer.

Some breast pump manufacturers make wipes just for cleaning breast pumps, which can make cleaning more convenient when you are away from home. But even if these wipes are used, breast pump parts that come into contact with breastmilk should still be cleaned using liquid dishwashing soap and warm water before your next pumping session.

Overview: How to clean a breast pump
  1. Consult the instruction manual to determine which parts should be washed and the best method for removing parts that must be cleaned.
  2. Rinse each piece that comes into contact with breast milk in cool water as soon as possible after pumping.
  3. Wash each piece separately using liquid dishwashing soap and plenty of warm water.
  4. Rinse each piece thoroughly with hot water for 10-15 seconds.
  5. Place the pieces neatly on a clean paper towel or in a clean drying rack and allow them to air dry.
  6. Avoid using cloth towels to dry your pump parts because they can carry germs and bacteria that are harmful to your breast milk and your baby.
  7. Once the pump parts are dry, assemble the pump before you store it or use it.
  8. Try not to touch the inside of any parts that will come in contact with your breast milk.
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Only breast pumps that are designed for multiple users should be used by more than one person. Otherwise, your breast pump should only be used by only you, as there is no way to guarantee the pump can be cleaned and disinfected between uses by different women. Breast pumps that are reused by different mothers can carry infectious particles, which can make you or your baby sick.

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