Cleaning a Breast Pump: Do's & Don'ts

Keep your pump working for the long term.

Breastfeeding can be a beautiful experience, but it's not without its challenges. One of the most significant struggles for nursing moms is knowing how to clean their breast pumps.

With so many different kinds of pumps, parts to assemble and cleaning methods, how do you keep it all straight? Are there definite do’s and don'ts when it comes to cleaning breast pumps? Whether you’re using a traditional pump or a portable Willow Pump, we have a full breakdown of how to clean it, so you and your baby can stay healthy and happy.

Why Is Cleaning a Breast Pump so Important?

Every time you pump milk, your breast pump comes into contact with your milk’s bacteria and other pathogens. If your breast pump isn't cleaned on a regular basis, these tiny microorganisms can multiply and grow over time.

The more the bacteria grows, the more likely you and your baby will come into contact with it. This exposure increases the risk of infection and illness for both of you.

An unclean breast pump can also contaminate your milk supply. If you pump and save your breast milk for later use, the bacteria can degrade its nutritional value and cause it to spoil. You’ll end up having to toss out the stored milk that you worked so hard to pump.

Not cleaning your breast pump can also shorten the life of the pump itself. Breast pumps are a godsend for moms everywhere, but they can also be expensive. This means you’ll want to keep yours in tip-top shape, especially when you depend on a breast pump to nourish your baby.

By cleaning your breast pump, you prevent the buildup of milk residue. This allows each component to work properly and efficiently for the long term.

It’s important to note that you don’t actually clean the breast pump itself. Pumps come with several parts, such as flanges and bottles. These accessories are what you’ll clean after each use.

Dapple® Baby Pump Cleaning Kit

Dapple® Baby Pump Cleaning Kit

This bundled trio of Dapple Baby products is designed for cleaning your Willow 3.0 and Willow Go pumps, both on-the-go and at home. Dapple Baby products are specifically formulated to remove breast milk residue.

How Do You Wash Pump Flanges and Accessories?

Washing your pump isn’t as simple as rinsing it in the kitchen sink. To keep yourself and your baby healthy, you should always follow the breast pump cleaning guidelines from the CDC:

Before Pumping

Before picking up your breast pump for any reason, always wash your hands with soap and water so you don’t transfer any oils or germs to your pump.

As you assemble your breast pump, carefully inspect any flanges, tubes and accessories to make sure there’s no milk buildup, mold or dirty areas. If any part of your pump is dirty, make sure to clean it before assembling the entire kit.

After Pumping

Traditional Pumps

  1. After you’ve stored your milk safely, you should use disinfectant wipes to clean all dials, power switches and the general pumping area. If you’re using a portable pump like Willow Pumps, you won’t have to worry about this step.
  2. Disassemble the tubing and all the parts that come into contact with your breast and breast milk. This includes bottles and bags for collecting milk, flanges, valves and connectors.
  3. You’ll then rinse these parts to remove any remaining milk and clean them by hand or in the dishwasher, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. If you’re cleaning by hand, you’ll need to place the parts in a wash basin filled with hot water and soap.
  4. Your wash basin should be used only for cleaning your pump to avoid cross-contamination with germs. Avoid using your sink to clean your pump for this reason also.
  5. Following the instructions of the manufacturer, scrub the pump parts. You can use a sponge or brush, but be mindful that your brush should be used only to clean your kit and nothing else.
  6. Rinse the pump parts thoroughly either under running water or by submerging them in a separate basin with fresh water.
  7. Placing your pump parts on a clean cloth or paper towel, allow the parts to air dry. Don’t pat them dry as that could transfer germs to them.

Portable and Willow Pumps

Many wearable pumps are dishwasher safe when placed on the top rack, which means you can skip all the meticulous scrubbing. However, if you don’t have a dishwasher, they’re still easy to clean thanks to having minimal parts.

Like traditional pumps, you’ll separate the flanges and other parts after storing your milk. Then you’ll soak them for a minimum of five minutes in water with mild dishwashing soap before brushing and scrubbing them clean.

Finally, you’ll rinse all of the parts thoroughly and place them on a paper towel to air dry. Be sure to repeat the cleaning process if you see residual milk on any of the parts.

What Is the Difference Between Washing and Sanitizing?

Washing is the best way to ensure your baby’s health and achieve a clean pump and should be done after each use. Sanitizing isn’t necessary after every use, but you can sanitize your pump as often as you wish for extra protection against germs.

Sanitizing should always happen after washing, not before. To sanitize your pump, you can do the following, as long as you follow the manufacturer’s sanitization instructions:

  • Use a steam sterilizer or put the pump parts in a microwaveable sanitizing bag
  • Put the parts in a pot of water with a lid, bring to a boil, and boil the parts for five minutes before removing and allowing them to air dry

Do I Need to Wash My Pump Parts After Every Use?

To prevent mixing icky residue, mold growth and bacteria with your fresh milk, you’ll need to wash it after every use. This will keep you and your baby happy and healthy, and it’ll keep your pump working for as long as you need it.

Empower Your Nursing Journey With Willow

When it comes down to it, cleaning your breast pump is essential for the health of you, your baby, and the life of your favorite breast pump. But we also know it can take a lot of time and energy, especially when you have to pump multiple times in a single place. Our Willow pumps are designed to give you more freedom by being cord-free, hands-free, and easily wearable with the right bra. See if a Willow Pump is right for you by taking our free pump quiz today!

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of medical professionals. It should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions or problems. Please contact your healthcare provider with questions or concerns.
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