Breast pump cleaning guidelines
For families who use a breast pump - whether as a regular part of their routine, or even just as a tool that’s only used occasionally - knowing how to clean the pump is vitally important. Having a clean breast pump protects your baby from bacteria and ensures that she is getting the safest nutritional experience possible, which is why, in the summer of 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines for making sure your breast pump cleaning routine is as effective as possible.
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 pump pieces aren’t moldy (and 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 even 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 either your breast or the milk under running water. Once you have rinsed the pieces, you can then either wash them by hand or in the dishwasher.
If you’re using the dishwasher
- First, make sure the pieces of the pump you’re using are dishwasher-safe. If they aren’t, you should wash them by hand.
- 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 with sanitizing the pump parts, wash basin, and bottle brush once a day or more. You can do this using steam, boiling water, or a dishwasher’s “sanitize” setting. Sanitizing is especially important for premature babies or babies who otherwise have compromised immune systems.
- 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.
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.
- “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/.
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