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Cleaning a breast pump can be a total pain in the ass right?

There are sooo many parts to clean. So many tiny, tiny parts.

As a new mom, you haven’t got time for that. It can be tempting just to skip cleaning the pump after each feed.

But wait, don’t do it.

I know, I know. It seems super anal to clean your breast pump every time you use it. But, it’s actually crucial for your baby’s health.

Regularly cleaning your breast pump keeps it free from nasty germs. Bacteria grow everywhere, really freaking quick.

Think about it. If they grow in your pump parts and mix with your breast milk. Where are they going to go? That’s right. Straight into your baby’s tummy.

Oh crap!

In fact, there have been so many recent cases of babies getting ill from contaminated pumps. Official guidelines were more needed. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have done just that.

I’m going to teach you how to clean a breast pump based on these guidelines. Plus we’ll go over some situations that you may find yourself in with a dirty pump. You know, so you don’t freak out that you’re gonna make your baby ill.

Let’s do this.

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How to Clean a Breast Pump | Learn the best way to get rid of milk and germs from your breast pump. Plus tips for cleaning the tubing and sterilizing. My recommendations for pump cleaning products and using second-hand breast pumps.

What You Need to Clean a Breast Pump

Before you start cleaning your pump, you’re going to need a few things to do this properly. Below is a list of all the stuff I think you need for a good clean pump.

Even if you have these things at home, I suggest you buy another set, for your pump only. Why? Because it’s really easy to spread bacteria by touching other surfaces. What I mean by that is you shouldn’t use any of this equipment to clean anything other than your baby’s dishes.

This is what you’ll need:

  • Wash Basin
  • Bottle Brush
  • Bottle Soap
  • Drying Rack
  • Sterilizer
  • Disinfectant Wipes

You can pick all of this stuff up pretty cheap. If you want to know which brands I’d recommend, then check it all out here.

Now let’s get cleaning.

How to Clean a Breast Pump

Before you do any cleaning, I want you to read your breast pump manual. Do it. Even if you know how to use your breast pump. You need to know the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning it.

Each breast pump is different. You need to know which parts to clean every time you use it. Make a note of parts that can’t be heated or sterilized. You don’t want to go breaking pump. Or making it less effective.

If you don’t have your pump manual, search for it on google. You’ll find most brands and models are available to view online.

Step By Step Guide

1. Rinse

Once you’ve finished pumping, start taking your breast pump apart. You need to rinse any parts that come into contact with the breast milk. Do this under a running faucet. And don’t rest the parts in the sink. It’s a germy surface that your pump parts need to avoid.

2. Clean

Fill your wash basin with hot soapy water. Then let the parts soak for 5 minutes. Remember, don’t directly fill your sink up with water. Use the basin. It’s ok to use your dishwasher for this part. As long as you put it on a hot or sanitizing cycle.

3. Scrub

Grab your bottle brush and use it to scrub off any stubborn milk stuck on the pump parts. Give it a good clean, get into all those awkward nooks.

4. Rinse again

Once the parts are clean, rinse off all the suds. Do this under a faucet with fresh running water. Don’t place the parts back in the basin, or directly on the sink surface.

5. Dry

Give the parts a good shake to get off extra water drops. Then leave the parts to air dry on your drying rack. You can place them on a clean, dry dish towel instead. But don’t dry the parts with the dish towel as it spreads bacteria. Leave your basin and bottle brush to air dry too.

6. Store

When all the parts are completely dry store them in a clean and dry container. A Tupperware box with a tight lid is perfect. Remember to wash your hands before next use you the parts. That way your pump parts are as clean as possible for your baby.

7. Wipe

If you are using an electric breast pump, you won’t be able to wash the pump motor or power supply. That’s where your disinfectant wipes come in handy. Use them to wipe down the pump motor every time you use it.

How to Sterilize a Breast Pump

Has all this talk of germs and sick babies got you worried?

Don’t panic. There is another way to protect your baby even more.

Start sterilizing the pump parts. You don’t need to do this as often as you clean the parts. Aim to sterilize the parts at least once a day. It seems like more work, but honestly, it adds like 15 minutes to a regular wash.

Sterilizing isn’t essential. But I like to think of it as a little insurance policy to clean your pump parts. Especially if your baby is under three months or was born premmie. At this stage, your baby is at much higher risk of infection.

Sterilize everything you can, including your bottle brush and wash basin.

Start by cleaning the parts as above. Then before air drying, quickly sterilize the parts.

You’re aiming to heat these pump parts to a minimum temp 272° F (133°C) for at 3 minutes. I didn’t pull those figures out the air that’s what the FDA recommends.

There are three ways you can sterilize the pump parts.

Steam Sterilizing

This is a great way to sterilize as it’s so freaking quick. I know you love quick right? With a microwave or electric sterilizer you throw the parts in with a little water, and that’s it done.

Boiling

If you don’t want to buy extra equipment use a big pan to boil the parts. That’s right, a simple pan of boiling water, with the pump parts, for 5 minutes.

Note 

So that you know, steam and boil sterilizing involves a lot of heat. If you choose to sterilize this way, you risk damaging some of the pump parts. That’s because most pump parts are plastic.

To avoid this, make sure you give each part plenty of space in the sterilizer or pan. Don’t squash lots of parts together. If you do, they are more likely to deform. Also, give the parts plenty of time to cool down after sterilizing.

Natural Option

If you want to avoid damaging your pump parts with heat, try a natural vinegar solution.

Fill your basin with a 50/50 water and vinegar solution. Let the parts soak for 10-15 minutes. Then rinse and air dry.

Vinegar is natural and anti-bacterial. Plus it gets rid of stubborn milk fats that stick to your pump parts.

Breast Milk Cleaning Products

Let’s look at some pump cleaning product you may have come across. It’s always handy to know if these items are worth buying or not.

Medela Quick Clean Wipes

These Medela Quick Clean wipes are the perfect for working and traveling moms. If you don’t have access to running water. Or your work sink is really gross. Use these wipes as a short-term way clean your pump parts.

You’ll still need to wash the parts before you use them again. If you need to pump again before you’re able to wash the parts, use a spare set of parts.

Theses wipes are great if you have sensitive skin as they are unscented, alcohol and bleach free. Plus, I love products that have a double use. Let’s save them dolla’s right? Well, you can use them to clean up other baby things like toys, changing mats and high chairs.

Babyganics Baby Bottle & Dish Liquid

This Babyganics Baby soap is a favorite of mine for cleaning any baby stuff. I love that the formula removes the stale milk odor that build up over time. And it cuts though those greasy milk film stains which are a pain to remove.

Did I mention that it’s natural and hypoallergenic? Plus it’s free from lots of nasty chemicals like parabens, SLS, sles, and formaldehyde. I don’t know what those long words are, but I’m sure you don’t want them going into your baby’s tummy, right? No wonder pediatricians recommend it.

Munchkin Latch Microwave Sterilize Bags


What I love about these Munchkin sterilizer bags is how portable and adaptable they are. Once you clean your breast pump parts, put them into the bag. Add a little bit of water and zap in the microwave for 2 minutes. Tada!  99.9% of all the bacteria on your pump parts is gone.

You can re-use these bags up to 30 times each. Plus they store your parts safely until you need them again.

Use these for pumping at work or traveling, if you have access to a microwave. It’s a better solution than leaving dirty parts in your pump bag until you get home.

How to Clean Breast Pump Tubing

Did you know you need to check the pump tubing on your electric breast pump?

It often gets ignored. But it’s important you regularly check the tubing. Why? Because there shouldn’t be any milk or condensation in the tubing. If it does get in there, it may affect the suction of the pump, or damage the internal motor.

Tubing Condensation

If you do notice condensation in your tubing, don’t worry.

Run the pump without placing it onto the breast, for around 2 minutes. This should dry out the tubing and rid it of any condensation.

Milk in Tubing

If you notice milk in the tubing, it’s a different matter.  The tubing is freaking hard to clean.

If you want to give it a go, start by washing it just like you would the other parts (see above). Shake out all the water droplets from the tubing and let it hang to air dry.

You can also try to dry out the tubing by running the pump for two minutes. If you still see milk spots, try flushing it with vinegar or rubbing alcohol.

It’s a good idea to keep a spare bit of tubing for situations like this.

Mold in Tubing

Don’t even bother trying to clean mold from the tubing. Throw it away and get a new set.
Tiny specks of milk in the tubing cause this mold. And that usually means your pump isn’t set up properly. Give it a good check over so it doesn’t happen with your new tubing.

Can I Clean a Used Breast Pump?

You know how there are certain items that you wouldn’t buy second hand? Things like used underwear or socks? Well, a breast pump is in the same class.

What I mean by that is it’s a personal hygiene item. Official consumer advice is to avoid borrowing or buying a second-hand breast pump.

Why?

Because breast milk is a body fluid that can carry disease Especially if it’s an open pump system. Buying second-hand can leave you vulnerable to disease such as HIV, cytomegalovirus (CMV), HTLV-I or herpes from contaminated parts.

If you do purchase a second-hand breast pump, you will be able to clean and sterilize the outer parts. But, you won’t be able to clean the inner motor or tubing. Now, your breast milk shouldn’t touch these parts. However, you can’t guarantee that.

My advice would be: If you don’t know the seller’s health history then don’t risk it. Keep this in mind if you’re planning on purchasing a pump from eBay, Craigslist or at a yard sale.

The only way to avoid taking this risk is to buy a new breast pump. Only hospital grade pumps are suitable for multi-users. Even then, you’ll need your own milk collection kit to use them.

Summary

Now you’re much more clued up on how to clean your breast pump.

Remember to clean after every use. Watch those surfaces and keep the parts as germ-free as possible. Sterilizing isn’t needed, but can help.

You can make cleaning your pump easier with certain products. These are handy if you pump at work.

Remember to check that tubing regularly.

How to Clean a Breast Pump | Learn the best way to get rid of milk and germs from your breast pump. Plus tips for cleaning the tubing and sterilizing. My recommendations for pump cleaning products and using second-hand breast pumps.