Welcome back, moms! When I breastfed my kids, I’m not going to lie, more than the breastfeeding and pumping itself, I found the process of cleaning and sanitizing all the pumps and parts to be more hectic!
Although I’m pretty obsessed with cleanliness, it just felt like too much, especially in the initial days, to clean everything after each session. However, what I later realized was that it wasn’t as big of a task as I made it out to be. It’s more about establishing an easy routine, and making it a habit!
So, in this guide, let’s tackle cleaning breast pumps with proven techniques. Because when left uncleaned, disease-causing bacteria can contaminate pump parts, causing infections for you and your baby. We’ll make sure that does NOT happen!
Table of Contents
Before we begin, let’s talk about the difference between these terms. They are often mistakenly used interchangeably by many.
|This involves the removal of visible dirt and debris from the pumps and all of its parts.
|Kills or reduces the number of bacteria or germs to a safe level by using heat, steam, or chemical sanitizers
|Kills all microorganisms, but since our house isn’t a sterile environment, full sterilization isn’t achievable.
Now, that you know this, let’s jump into into the nitty-gritty details of pump cleaning.
How to Clean Breast Pump Parts
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Brush to clean bottles
- Mild detergent soap
- Set of freshly washed towels
Note: Keep these supplies exclusively to clean breast pump parts and bottles. Do not use them to wash dishes or other objects.
And remember, when I talk about cleaning breast pumps, I mean cleaning all its parts after every time you pump.
- You don’t need to wash the breast pump tubing regularly since they make no contact with the breast or the milk (if used correctly). However, always keep an eye on them and ensure cleanliness. Replace them if you find them moldy or damaged!
Now to cleaning. Here’s my simple 4 part process:
- Detach – Once I pump and safely store the breast milk, I detach all the breast pump parts.
- Rinse – Some parts come into contact with your breast and the milk, including, the breast shield, valves, connectors, and the milk collection bottle or bag. So, I rinse these in the wash basin with warm, soapy water to remove any leftover milk.
- Clean – I use a soaped-up scrubber and bottle brush to clean the breast pump parts in my wash basin and rinse again. I even dip and rinse them in hot water later for extra precaution.
- Air-Dry – Finally, I place all the rinsed parts on a fresh, dry towel and let it dry away from dust and dirt. Please don’t pat dry it because you could transfer bacteria from the towel to your washed pump parts.
If you use a dishwasher, first check if your pump parts are dishwasher-safe. Then, put the detached pump parts facing downward, with the smaller parts in the closed holder section. Next, start the wash and simply air-dry them as usual.
- And it’s not over yet, moms! Please thoroughly rinse your scrubber and bottle brush in hot water and air-dry before using them again.
How to Sanitize Breast Pump Parts
As I pointed out earlier, cleaning is about removing visible dirt and residue from parts. Sanitizing is more about reducing germs invisible to the eye, and you usually do it after cleaning.
- Sanitizing is particularly useful for premature children or babies battling infections. With my fourth child, I had to clean and sanitize every object he touched because he developed an infection at five months old.
- After I put my baby to sleep, I take the time to clean and then sanitize my pump kit, bottle brushes, and scrubbers. I also sanitize my wash basin.
1) Chemical Sanitizers
After I clean and air-dry the parts, I spray 4-5 pumps of an alcohol-free sanitizing spray safe for breast pump parts and bottles. I do the same for my wash basin.
- Steam Systems – Some mums choose hand-held steam-cleaning machines to sanitize their pumps and baby bottles. They work by pumping out steam that you can direct at will.
- Microwave Steaming – You can also use steam sterilizer bags to sanitize items in the microwave. I used them to sanitize the pump while visiting my in-laws! Put the parts in the bag with water, microwave for about a minute or two, and let it air-dry.
You can also run them in a dishwasher in heated drying or sterilization mode.
How Do You Sterilize Breast Pump Parts?
Sterilizing is about removing ALL microorganisms from your things. While complete sterilization is not always possible at home, we can still achieve it to an extent.
- Boiling water is best to sterilize your pump without fancy equipment unless the pump’s cleaning instructions say otherwise. Use tongs to lower the parts into the water and let them sit for a few minutes. But be careful!
- Hand-held steam systems mentioned above are great for travel and have adjustable settings. The cons are that it takes time to understand them, needs maintenance, and can burn you if you aren’t careful.
- Steam sterilizer bags are safer and more compact. As long as you have a microwave, it works like a charm. The disadvantage is that not all accessories fit into it sometimes, and they dry slower.
Pump Cleaning Frequently Asked Questions
What are breast pump sterilizers?
It is a sterilizing machine that can fit more bottles, breast pump parts, pacifiers, and other baby accessories. It only needs some distilled water and takes about 30-45 minutes to sterilize and dry automatically.
How often do you need to sterilize pump parts?
My pediatrician told me that it is good to sterilize the parts at least once a day. This guideline is specifically if your child is a newborn, has weak immunity, was born prematurely, or if you are traveling in between pumping sessions. And, you need not sterilize them so often for older, healthier children as long as you clean all the parts well.
How to store the sterilized breast pump parts?
I make it a point to wash and dry my hands before handling clean parts. Only then do I re-assemble the pump. Next, I put them in a sterilized, sealed bag to store them safely in a cool, moisture-free place.
Wrapping Up: Hygiene Matters!
Dear moms, clean your pumps and bottles after every use and sterilize all your accessories atleast once every day! Choose whatever method works for you! See you in the next one!
The CDC is still your best bet to find factual information about sterilizing your baby items! Oh, and here are two of my product recommendations: