Washing your Breast Pump and Accessories

For many working moms or moms on-the-go, pumping is a necessary and effective way to ensure their babies are getting all of the advantages of breast milk while they are separated.  Pumping has come a long way in recent years and is more common than ever.  In fact, business predictions show that there will be an increase in breast pump purchases over the next four years.  In addition to safe storage methods, washing your breast pump and accessories regularly is an important part of the keeping your milk safe and clean.

Breast pumps are made of several parts, some of which come into contact with your skin and breast milk, and others do not.  The parts that touch your breasts and your breast milk – the phalanges or shields, valves and bottles – need to be rinsed or wiped down after each use, and sterilized daily.

Washing pumps__1453483035_108.89.137.58If you are pumping at work or away from home, rinse shields and valves after each pumping session.  If you don’t have access to a sink, use a napkin or paper towel to wipe your pump clean.  Breast milk has natural antimicrobial properties so it is somewhat of a self cleaning agent and will certainly not ruin your pump if it is not washed off immediately.  You can also purchase breast pump wipes designed specifically to clean breast pump parts.

At the end of every day, take a few minutes to sanitize your breast shields and valves.  You’ll also need to sterilize bottles and nipples after they have been used or after breast milk has been transferred into a storage container for freezing.  Use liquid dish soap and hot water for at least 15 seconds and be sure to wash each piece individually.  Wipe excess water with a paper towel or let them air dry.  Do not use dish rags as they tend to collect germs and bacteria that can settle into your pump and contaminate your milk.

For thorough sterilization, most breast pump shields, valves, bottles and bottle parts can be washed in the top rack of your dishwasher.  Check your manual to make sure yours is dishwasher safe.  Alternatively, you can boil them for 10 minutes.  You can also purchase microwavable sterilizing bags.  Once parts are rinsed you can microwave them in the bag with a touch of water as an easy method of steam cleaning.

Tubes do not need to be washed unless breast milk gets into them.  Then you can boil them or wash them with hot soapy water.  You can also pour a touch of rubbing alcohol through the tube and then shake to dry it out after washing.  Never wash the electrical unit but do wipe it down occasionally for sanitation purposes.

Wash your hands before pumping or touching any part of your breast pump.  Avoid putting your hands inside breast shields and bottles to prevent spreading germs.  Also, once cleaned, leave your pump assembled in its pouch or a bag to avert airborne microbes from landing on it.

For many new moms, pumping is a wonderful way to nourish their babies with breast milk when they are away from their babies.  Washing your breast pump and accessories will keep your pump in great condition for the entirety of your breastfeeding journey.