Cleaning your breast pump kit is as important as learning how to use it. With proper cleaning and maintenance, you can prevent the risk of bacterial and mould growth. It ensures that your breast pump is kept in good working condition, too. So, read on and learn the steps on how to clean your electric breast pump and sterilise its parts the right way.
Steps on How to Clean Your Electric Breast Pump
If you’re trying to figure out how to clean your breast pump and its parts, the best way around it is to do it in simple steps. Here’s a cleaning guide showing you what to do.
Read the manual
Every electric breast pump model is unique, so make sure that you refer to its manual first for thorough cleaning instructions. The manual should also give you an overview of its parts and how to remove and reassemble them. It might also help if you can find a cleaning demo video of your electric pump. That way, it’s easier to keep tabs on how to clean it by hand or in the dishwasher and what cleaning tools you should use.
Scrub your hands and washing area
First things first: wash your hands thoroughly before using and cleaning your electric pump. Use soapy water, scrub your hands for about 20 seconds then rinse. Make sure the countertop or sink area is clean as well. Have dish towels or clean paper towels on hand, too, for wiping and air drying.
Take your breast pump apart
Following your manual on how to clean your electric breast pump, start disassembling its parts. Be mindful of the pump parts that come in contact with your breast and breast milk. Use this step to inspect the breast shields, valves, connectors and breast milk bottles for signs of defects or moulds. The parts that you often use and clean are more prone to damage, so it’s best to have spare parts on hand or at least know where to get a replacement.
Here’s one thing to keep in mind. The breast pump tubing allows airflow and creates suction to extract breast milk from you to the bottle. So, you shouldn’t see any milk or moisture inside the plastic tube. If there’s condensation, you can dry it up by hooking it to the pump motor and letting it run without connecting it to your breast. If breast milk does get in the tube for some reason, wash it with dishwashing soap and warm water, then let it drip to dry. However, if you see moulds inside, it’s safer to purchase a replacement breast pump tubing than attempt to clean it.
Wash the pump parts
When learning how to clean your electric breast pump, washing it is perhaps the most crucial step. Aside from washing it thoroughly with water and dishwashing soap, the CDC fact sheet recommends that you use a plastic washbasin, dedicated brush and sponge or scrubber for cleaning. As much as possible, make sure to clean your electric pump immediately to prevent milk residue build-up and ensure disease control. Don’t let the pump parts sit in the sink either.
Is an electric breast pump dishwasher safe? It depends on your breast pump kit model. If your breast pump parts are dishwasher safe and you’re using it for cleaning, follow the settings recommended in your manual. Ideally, put any small pump parts in a basket with a cover or mesh laundry bag to prevent them from going to the filter. Also, if you can, use hot water for washing and a heated drying cycle for sterilising.
Rinse and dry
Remove all traces of soap on each breast pump part with hot water for about 15 seconds. After rinsing, place them on a clean rack to air dry. Make sure not to use a cloth towel or paper towels for drying to avoid germ transfer. Fibres can also stick to them and contaminate your breast milk. But you can lay a clean dish towel on your benchtop and use it as a mat for air-drying in case you don’t have a dish rack. After that, wash and air-dry all your washbasin and bottle brush as well.
If you washed and dried your breast pump parts in the dishwasher, make sure to wash your hands first before taking them out. Sometimes, the pump part may not be dry thoroughly after the cycle, so use a dish rack or dish towel for air-drying to avoid moulds.
Wipe the pump exterior
Once everything’s washed and drying, it’s time to wipe down your breast pump motor. Electric breast pumps should not be submerged in water or put in the microwave for cleaning. However, you can use breast pump wipes to clean the surface, switches and dials. These disinfectant wipes are readily available in most baby stores or online.
Store the pump properly
The final step on how to clean your electric breast pump is proper storage. Use the bag included in the product to keep everything together. Alternatively, you can also use a plastic storage container with lid and handle. Make sure to use it only for storing the pump. This clean, closed container should protect the pump from dust or insects while in storage. Find a plastic container for storing your basin and bottle brush, too.
FAQs When Cleaning Your Electric Breast Pump
Is it safe to put dirty pump parts in the fridge after use?
No. While this a popular “shortcut cleaning hack”, it is neither safe nor recommended. Always clean your breast pump with soap and water after each pumping session. Yes, it can be time-consuming, but it’s well worth the effort for your baby’s safety. Some breast pump models are not cheap either. And the best way to make the most of your investment is to clean your breast pump properly.
If I need to sterilise breast pump parts, how often should I do it?
Yes, you do need to sterilise the parts of your breast pump at least once a day for extra protection. According to CDC, sterilisation is especially essential if you’re using the pump for babies who are less than three months, premature or have weak immunity. Here’s a guide on how to sterilise breast pump parts:
- Get a large pot big enough for all the pump parts you need to sterilise.
- Fill the pot with water then put all the parts inside. The pump parts should be submerged fully.
- Place the pot on the stovetop and bring the water to a boil for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat then use clean tongs to transfer all parts to a dish rack or towel to air dry.
You can also sterilise your breast pump parts using the microwave, dishwasher or baby bottle steriliser, depending on your product model and its manual. Some units even have cleaning bags included for easier sterilisation. Just make sure to clean the parts first before sterilising.
How do I clean the parts if I pump at work?
Breast pump cleaning in the office can be more challenging, but it’s doable! Make sure to bring your washbasin and bottle brush with you at work, or have a separate set of tools if you have a storage place for them in the office. As usual, clean your hands and washing area, wash your pump parts then let them air dry in a clean, protected area. If there is a dishwasher at work, you can also use that as an alternative.
Using and cleaning your pump can take time, whether you are at home or in the workplace. So, I suggest to let your partner, family or friend help you manage your breastfeeding and pumping routine, so you can enjoy being a hands-on mum more!