For families who use a breast pump — whether as a regular part of their routine or even just as an occasional tool — knowing how to clean the pump is vitally important. Having a clean breast pump protects Baby from bacteria and ensures that they’re getting the safest nutritional experience possible. Here is some recent breast pump cleaning guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Breast pump cleaning basics
When using a breast pump, it’s important to be sanitary every step of the way, which means washing your hands with soap and water, checking the pump to make sure that the pieces aren’t moldy (if they are, they need to be replaced immediately, without being used again), and wiping down the pump dials, power switch, and the surface the pump will be on, before you get started.
When you’ve finished pumping, you should first disassemble the pump and wipe down the surface that the pump was on with disinfectant wipes. From there, you can rinse the parts of the pump that have come into contact with your breast or the milk under cold running water. Then wash them by hand or in the dishwasher when you can.
If you’re using the dishwasher
- First, make sure the pieces of the pump you’re using are dishwasher-safe. Wash them by hand if they aren’t.
- Put smaller pump pieces in a basket with a lid or in a mesh laundry bag.
- Add soap and run the dishwasher using hot water and a heated dry cycle. If your dishwasher has a sanitizing setting, use that.
- Wash your hands before removing the pump pieces from the dishwasher. If the pieces aren’t completely dry, allow them to air dry on a clean dish towel or paper towel before putting them away — don’t rub or pat them dry, since this can introduce new bacteria to the just-cleaned pieces.
If you’re washing by hand
- Instead of washing the pump pieces directly in the sink, use a clean wash basin that you only use for washing baby-feeding items.
- Add soap and water to the basin.
- Use a bottle brush that is only used to clean baby-feeding items (bottles, breast pump parts) to scrub the pump parts.
- Rinse the pump parts either under clean running water or by dipping them in clean water in another clean basin that is, again, only used to clean baby-feeding items.
- Air dry all parts by laying them out on a clean towel or paper towel. Rubbing or patting the pieces dry can reintroduce bacteria to the cleaned pieces.
- If you hand-washed your pump pieces, the first thing to do is to clean out the wash basin and bottle brush. Rinse and let them air dry after each time you use them, and then wash them by hand or in the dishwasher with soap and hot water every few days.
- If you have the chance, you can be extra safe by following up this regular cleaning by sanitizing the pump parts, wash basin, and bottle brush once a day or more. (Sanitizing is especially important for premature babies or babies who otherwise have compromised immune systems.) You can do this using steam, boiling water, or a dishwasher’s “sanitize” setting — just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, since frequent high temperature sanitizing can cause parts to break down faster.
- Once they’re dry, store all pump parts, brushes, and basins in a clean, protected area. Storing items that are still damp can lead to mold or germs.
If you can’t wash right away
If you don’t have access to washing facilities right after pumping, that’s okay. You can wipe down your pump parts with pump wipes (which you can find in most stores) or rinse them in cold water, and then clean the parts more thoroughly later.
It may add a few more items to your to-do list, but it’s very important to make sure to follow these steps after every time you use your breast pump.
Reviewed by the Ovia Clinical Team
- “How to keep your breast pump kit clean: The essentials.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 15 2017. Retrieved January 25 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/healthychildcare/infantfeeding/breastpump.html.
- “New breast pump cleaning guidelines from CDC.” Seattle Children’s Hospital. Seattle Children’s Hospital, August 10 2017. Retrieved January 25 2018. http://seattlemamadoc.seattlechildrens.org/new-breast-pump-cleaning-guidelines/.