The Down and Dirty on Cleaning Breast Pump Parts

Published on
Written by Courtney Uyeshiro

Can I really put my breast pump parts in the fridge?

Yes! This one tip can save a pumping mom a lot of time and sanity!

If you follow the directions that accompany your pump and its accessories, you are instructed to thoroughly wash all parts each time you pump. But, since pumping moms are often already short on time, here are some tips {see note below for exceptions}.

To Quick Clean (after each session):

  • Pump … Rinse with cold water (or just place in Ziplock bag) … Place in a Ziplock bag then in a cooler or refrigerator … Repeat!
  • At end of day, clean well

To Clean Well (daily):

  • Rinse parts well with warm soapy water and let air dry on dish rack or paper towel
  • Many parts (check with manufacturer) can be placed in dishwasher top rack to clean
To Further Sanitize (weekly):
  • You can sanitize your pump parts by boiling them in water for ten minutes, using the dishwasher sanitize setting or in a “quick steam” bag.
  • If you notice a filmy residue after using the parts for several times, soak parts in a mixture of 5050 Vinegar and water to dissolve the milk fat, then rinse.

Additional Tips to keep in Mind:

  1. Make sure you separate all the pumping accessory parts - i.e. the little white membranes from the yellow valves (yes, those need to come off too!)
  2. Make sure your pump parts don’t go down the drain! I always plugged the sink before washing to avoid losing the membranes.
  3. A bottle washing basket or a salad spinner basket can be a helpful container to keep everything together in the dishwasher.
  4. Residue builds on plastic. Your milk has fat in it and this builds up … vinegar is your friend!
  5. Keeping a fully assembled set of pump parts ready to go for the morning can be a life saver
  6. Emergency planning - keep an additional full set of pumping accessories in your pumping place (car, office, etc.) for those moments when one (or more) part is left at home! If you forget to do this, remember that you CAN express your milk by hand (you can even see how on Youtube!).
  7. Don’t Forget the Milk!

    BUT, because I am not a medical professional expert, for more insight – from

    Cleaning Breast Pump Parts - All breast pump parts that come in contact with breast milk, such as bottles, valves and breast shields, should be cleaned after each use. It is not possible to completely sterilize breast pump parts at home, even if you boil them. However, sterilization is not necessary to keep these parts safe and sanitary. You can do that by thoroughly washing away germs and bacteria with liquid dishwashing soap and warm water.

    Some breast pumps parts can be put in the top rack of a dishwasher. Consult your instruction manual to make sure pieces are dishwasher safe before you put them in the dishwasher.

    It is not necessary to clean breast pump tubing unless it comes in contact with breast milk. If you wash your tubing, make sure you hang it to air dry before attaching it to your breast pump. If small water drops (condensation) appear in the tubing after you have pumped, turn the pump on for a few minutes until the tubing is dry.

    Microwave sterilizers are available for breast pump parts, but these sterilizers do not meet the FDA definition of sterilization. However, they will sanitize the parts, which is sufficient for processing between uses for a single user.

    Helpful Definitions:

    Sterilize: to make (something) free from bacteria or other living microorganisms {Google}; to clean (something) by destroying germs or bacteria {}

    Sanitize: to make clean and hygenic {Google}; to make (something) free from dirt, infection, disease, etc., by cleaning it : to make (something) sanitary {}

    *Please note that these tips are for moms of healthy babies. If your baby is in the NICU or has any health issues, please follow your medical professionals’ advice! For example, some babies with recurring thrush may need pump parts sanitized with each use.

    milk it, LLC creates Milk It Kit™ - the Back to Work Survival Kit for Breastfeeding Moms. Purchase the Milk It Kit™ and refill milk labels at Milk It™ and Milk It Kit™ are trademarks of milk it, LLC © 2012. All Rights Reserved.