Cleaning Your Breast Pump: Our How-to Guide

Breastfeeding and pumping can be overwhelming for many new mothers. Here is an easy and helpful guide on how to properly clean your breast pump after usage.

As you and your baby begin adjusting to your new lives, it is important to remain prepared and make sure that both you and your baby are remaining healthy and safe. As a new mother, your body has already undergone many changes.

Now that you’ve entered the postpartum stage, also known as the 4th trimester, the last thing you want to worry about is how to properly disinfect your breast pump, or anything for that matter. You want to remain relaxed in knowing that you’re taking the right steps in protecting your baby’s immune system. Because your baby’s immune system is extremely sensitive during this time, avoiding germs at all costs is key.

We understand that breastfeeding and pumping can be overwhelming, time consuming and takes a lot of effort. Once you become familiar and establish your cleaning routine, you’ll feel less stressed in knowing you’re doing it right. Here’s what you need to know when properly cleaning your breast pump.

Cleaning Your Breast Pump: Our How-to Guide

1. Sanitization (Part 1)

First, always make sure anything and everything that comes into contact with your pump is sanitized. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this has become more apparent. Make sure to wash your hands with warm water and soap. Wash for at least 2 seconds. Make sure to do this each time you touch your breast pump. Use a fresh towel or paper towel each time you dry both your hands and your pump.

2. Inspect

Make sure to disassemble your breast pump each time before usage and make sure it is clean. Check each area (tubes, bottles, additional parts) for anything unusual, especially mold. Because mold can be difficult to fully remove, we suggest replacing any part that may have developed mold. If you do not see mold but notice that any area other parts appear unclean, replace the part before using your pump.

We recommend that you keep a spare set of tubbing and additional parts on deck for this reason. The last thing you want to experience when your baby is hungry is having to go out to the grocery store for another pump or piece. To avoid this, try to have 2-3 pumps in your home for back-up. If you’re planning on leaving your home, pack an extra pump. Of course, inspect your back-up pumps for any mold or filth as well!

3. Wash & Disinfect After Each Use

Similar to sanitizing, we want to make sure your pump is fully disinfected after each usage. Yes, repeat the following steps after every single usage. First, it is important to know that simply rinsing your pump is not the correct way to do this. Of course, you can rinse your pump; however, according to the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), additional steps are required to properly disinfect your breast pump.

After rinsing, fill up a clean and fully sanitized wash basin or with warm water and soap. Make sure not to use your sink, as your sink is full of other germs. Ideally, keep multiple wash basins that you will exclusively use for your breast pump. Make sure these are fully disinfected after each time you use them, too. Then, scrub each individual piece of your breast pump with hot water and soap. Rinse each piece thoroughly. Then, place each piece onto a freshly cleaned towel or paper towel and allow for full air-dry. Do not dry any piece of your pump with anything that may carry germs, like a used towel and/or paper towel. You want to avoid any and all germs and bacterias from contacting your breast pump.

4. Opt for the Dishwasher

Many mothers who have a dishwasher, typically choose to disinfect their breast pump with one. Like you would do manually, take apart each piece of your breast pump to ensure that each piece receives the same amount of water pressure. Place each piece on the top compartment of your dishwasher and leave some room in between each one. Run your dishwasher with hot water and depending on your dishwasher’s make, choose the sanitizing cycle should you have one. Once the cycle finishes, let each piece air-dry (on a clean towel or paper towel). Some dishwashers will automatically dry your pump. Regardless, make sure that each piece is dry prior to usage.

5. Sanitization (Part 2)

Like anything that will be touching your breast pump, you want to make sure your breast pump is sanitized itself. This allows for extra protection against germ formation and bacteria prevention. This is especially important for newborns and premature babies. After a couple of months of doing this, you can begin sanitizing on a weekly basis. The CDC recommends that you only do this if your baby is fully healthy and does not suffer from any underlying conditions. To ensure the utmost safety, do this until you consult with your doctor on when to change your sanitizing routine.

6. More Sanitization!

Yup, there’s more! But don’t worry, this part is easy and quick. After you’ve thoroughly washed your breast pump, boil each piece for at least five minutes. We recommend doing this to further avoid any germs that may have cross contaminated into your pump when being washed. Remove each piece using sanitized tongs and allow for air-dry on, you guessed it, a clean towel or paper towel. If you’re in a rush, you can also use microwaveable bags. Follow the directions on the manufacturer’s label for proper instructions.

7. Proper Storage

Now that you’ve learned how to properly clean, disinfect and sanitize your breast pump and all things that come near it, learn where and how to store your breast pump effectively. Once fully dry, reassemble your breast pump and store it in a clean and sanitized area. It is recommended that you keep it inside of something, like a food container with a secure top. Make sure the container is sanitized and is used only for storing your breast pump. Avoid storing your breast pump in any areas that may be prone to dust or additional germs.

Learn more about how to safety clean your breast pump from doula and childbirth educator Bridget Teyler:

Safely Storing Your Breast Milk

After pumping, store your breast milk in separate baby bottles or bottles that came with your breast pumping kit. Make sure your choice of storage is designed for breast milk specifically. Typically, we recommend storing at least two to four ounces of breastmilk at a time. This is recommended to ensure realistic serving-size amounts, depending on your baby’s age and eating patterns. Also, doing so avoids any of your nutritional milk from going to waste. Here are some more breast pumping tips:

  1. Surprisingly, your breast milk can be out of the refrigerator for up to four hours. However, if you’ll be away from a refrigerator for this long, make sure your milk is not directly exposed to heat or any sunlight.
  2. You can store your breast milk in insulated bags for up to 24 hours. Many mothers do this when they return to work. If so, make sure to store your milk with ice packs.
  3. Your breast milk can remain in your refrigerator for as long as four days. Should your baby’s intake be inconsistent, storing your breast milk in the back of your fridge for optimal cooling is suggested. If you predict that your milk will be stored for this amount of time, be sure to label each bottle with the right date and time. If you’re doing this at work, make sure to write your name along with the date and time of storage. We wouldn’t want anyone accidentally mixing the wrong milk with their coffee!
  4. You can also store your breast milk in your freezer for up to twelve months, as stated by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Because milk’s biology maintains its nutritional value when kept in a cool area, this is safe. Be sure to discard the milk if it has not been used after the recommended time.
  5. When defrosting your breast milk, first run the bottle under warm water. You can always let the milk thaw on its own in the refrigerator. Should you do this, make sure to store it overnight. Also, try to use the oldest stored milk first. This is why it is important to label each bottle with the accurate date and time. Never refreeze any milk that you have thawed.

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All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  If your infant has severe eczema, check with your infant’s healthcare provider before feeding foods containing ground peanuts.