How to clean breast pump equipment

There are endless new things to learn when you become a parent, and in case breastfeeding hasn’t been the biggest learning curve for you so far…you soon discover that pumping is a whole new world! First you need to decide on a pump, learn how to use it, find out how to store breastmilk, and then try to actually find time between nappy changes, naps, and feeds to squeeze in a pumping session or two.

The next important thing you’ll need to know about expressing is how to properly clean breast pump equipment. This is vital to get right because it ensures that your milk is safe for your baby to drink. It’s a little daunting at first, but if you follow these steps, it will become part of your routine. You’ll almost be able to do it in your sleep—now, if only you could get some!

How to clean breast pump equipment

All parts of the breast pump equipment that come into contact with your breasts and your milk must be completely clean and dry before use. That includes bottles, valves, bottle lids, and breast shields. Here is the best way to clean everything:

  1. Wash your hands well with soap and water. Dry them on a clean towel.
  2. Rinse your pumping equipment with (drinking quality) cold tap water at approximately 20℃ to remove any milk proteins.
  3. Wash all parts with warm (approximately 30℃) soapy water. Use a brush kept just for this purpose to remove all residue, grease, and dirt.
  4. Rinse all parts again for 15-20 seconds in drinking quality tap water.
  5. Alternatively, read your pump and bottle manufacturer instructions for washing the parts in the dishwasher in the top rack.
  6. To dry, use a clean cloth or leave to air-dry. Cover the parts while they air-dry, and ensure that no water remains before storing.

How to sanitise your breast pump equipment

Is sanitising the same as sterilising? You may have heard people talk about sterilising breast pump equipment, or you’ve seen products marketed as ‘sterilisers’, but sanitising is the more accurate term. Our homes aren’t sterile environments so it’s impossible to sterilise something, but sanitising means that something has been thoroughly cleaned of bacteria and germs.

Before using the breast pump for the first time (or it’s been awhile since you used it last), you’ll need to sanitise the parts after washing them. Then, you will need to do so at least once a day. Again, read the instructions recommended by your pump’s manufacturer, but the following methods will probably be what you use:

  • Boiling method: Submerge your pump parts in a large saucepan of water. Bring to the boil, and then continue boiling for five minutes, making sure they’re covered with water for the duration.
  • Steam method: Use a microwave steriliser or sanitising bag, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, place all bottles, teats, and parts upside down into an electric steam steriliser.
  • Sterilising fluid or tablets. You may choose to use a cold water sterilising solution or sanitising spray, but carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Wash your hands thoroughly before and after you clean and sterilise breast pump equipment. Once your breast pump equipment has been sanitised, leave it to air-dry on a clean sanitised surface, or use a clean towel. Once dry, store parts in a clean, cool place when not in use.

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