Are you wondering how to safely and properly clean a breast pump?
Estimates showed that the breast pump market will reach 2.86 billion dollars by 2032. Many women opt for breast pumps because there are more mothers in the workplace and better technology.
Or, put another way, new mothers often have less time to breastfeed and can access better pumps. Breast pumps can be time-consuming at first, but they allow you to accumulate and store extra milk.
They offer mothers that don't - or can't - breastfeed flexibility. But, there is a trade-off. You have to regularly clean your breast pump parts.
Breast pump cleaning is essential to ensure healthy feedings for your baby. All mothers that don't breastfeed need to know proper breast pump care.
Read on to learn why you should clean your pump and how to maintain your breast pump parts.
Why You Should Clean Breast Pumps
Moisture is the main culprit of breast pump contamination. It's easy for moisture from your surroundings and the milk itself to enter pump components.
Once inside, mold, mildew, germs, and bacteria can grow and spread throughout the breast pump. Mold growth is unfortunate, but not uncommon inside pump components.
Understanding Breast Pump Parts
Breast pumps differ among manufacturers and models. But there are typically five parts you can expect to see: breast flanges, tubing, backflow protectors, valves and connectors, and storage containers.
We're going to list and explain each piece below to better acquaint you with breast pump parts.
Flanges are often made of sturdy plastic and fit directly over the breasts while you pump. They seal around and suction out breast milk.
The other breast pump part sizes are standardized. However, flanges come in various dimensions so they fit different women. Proper fitting is required for a comfortable pumping experience.
Tubing is a pump part that may not come with every model. Hands-free and wearable pumps may lack tubing.
Pump tubing (when applicable) ensures the pump extracts milk at your chosen setting during the session. Tubing is specialized between different pumps and looks different depending on the pump type.
Backflow protectors keep milk from getting into the non-collector parts of the breast pump. Pumps with tubing use backflow protectors to stop liquid from harming the motor.
These protectors may come built-in to the breast pump or as separate parts.
Valves and connectors attach flanges to the tubing and storage container. They work alongside backflow connectors to keep milk separate from pump parts (and germs) connecting to the outside.
Storage containers differ from model to model. You can choose between pre-sealed storage bags or bottles for the milk to flow into.
Bags allow you to store milk for later and you can immediately feed your baby with the bottles.
Does Pump Type Matter?
The kind of pump you have largely determines potential contamination (how much foreign substances get into the milk). There are closed and open-system breast pumps.
A closed-system breast pump has a barrier between pieces that contact with breast milk. The flanges, bottles, and valves are physically separated from the tubes and motor by the backflow protector.
This barrier makes it easier to clean and sterilize certain parts of the pump. An "open system" pump lacks this barrier. Milk and moisture can enter the tubing and motor area.
Dark, moist, and enclosed spaces are the perfect location for mold to proliferate. This is not helped by the fact that breast pump motors cannot be cleaned.
Open-system breast pumps often have mold inside the motor, tubing, and valves that connect storage containers to the flanges. It's common to see mold build up after storage in moist areas.
How to Clean Your Breast Pump
Part of breast pump cleaning is keeping everything touching it clean. Before you begin on the pump, your hands need to be thoroughly washed.
Lather them with soap and water before scrubbing for at least 20 seconds before you rinse. Afterward, clean whatever surface will be contacting the pump.
Use a clean towel or paper towel when you do this. Always clean your hands and contact surfaces each time you clean the breast pump.
The next step is inspection. You must always disassemble the pump and check for mold each time you use it. Check the valves, tubing, and storage bottles for fungal growth.
Also, inspect for cracks or tears. If you spot mold or damage, replace the part as quickly as possible before reusing the pump. It may help to keep spare tubing and other parts in case they need swapping out.
Breast pump flanges are often made of non-porous plastic and silicone, and can be cleaned. However, if you're unsure you can properly clean the mold, throw them away.
Washing Your Pump
Proper breast pump care means you wash it after every use. A quick rinse or soak is not enough to sterilize your pump. You need a basin filled with soap and hot water.
Do not use your sink. It or the drain can contain contaminants and harmful bacteria. The basin should be solely dedicated to washing your pump, and nothing else.
Scrub each breast pump part with soap and hot water. Once finished, rinse the soap away under running water. Air drying on a clean cloth or paper towel is best to remove the remaining moisture from the pump.
Never reuse paper towels or unwashed cloths to air dry pumps. It's rare, but you can risk contamination and infections this way.
Some breast pumps are dishwasher safe. Take the pump apart so each piece receives a thorough cleaning. You can place smaller pieces in the silver wear rack.
Run your dishwasher on hot to remove germs. Once done, let the breast pump parts air dry on a clean paper towel or cloth.
Sanitize for Extra Safety
Sanitation is insurance that your baby will be safe from germs and bacteria. Daily sterilization is vital for young and premature infants. It's safe to sanitize weekly if your baby is older and healthy.
If you don't (or can't) dishwasher your pump, boil each piece for at least five minutes to kill germs that may have survived washing. Remove each piece with clean tongs and let air dry.
There are microwave-safe bags you can place pump parts to sterilize them while at work. Carefully read the manufacturer's instructions to ensure proper sanitation.
Store Your Breast Pump
After you've cleaned and sanitized your pump, store it until the next feeding. You can place it inside a clean, lidded plastic food container. Make sure the container is only used for the breast pump.
Prevention is Your Best Weapon
Keeping pump components clean is important, but prevention is the best way to keep mold out of milk. Choosing the best pump goes a long way toward keeping it mold-free.
Always compare flanges when comparing pump models. Make sure your chosen breast pump has a protective barrier where the flange attaches to the tubing.
Pumps without this barrier risk allowing milk and moisture inside the tubes. The small, enclosed space eventually becomes a prime location for mold growth.
Breast Pump Care FAQs
1. Can I scrub breast pump parts with a brush?
Whether you can use a brush depends on manufacturing guidelines. Carefully read the breast pump instructions to make sure a brush is safe to use.
2. How do I clean hard-to-reach pieces like valves and membranes?
If the instructions say you can use a brush, try a small one with soapy water to get inside the more difficult parts of your pump.
If brushes aren't an option, disassemble and boil the components for at least five minutes.
3. What kind of soap should I use to clean breast pump parts?
You can use any dishwashing soap as long as it doesn't contain antibacterial additives. Do not use antibacterial soap. It can contain chemicals unsafe for daily breast pump care.
4. Can I clean my pump with wet wipes between each use?
Some pump manufacturers make wipes for cleaning pumps and their parts.
While they are convenient if you don't have soap or water, it's still advisable to use warm, soapy water to clean pump parts that contact with milk.
5. The manufacturer says I can't parts of my breast pump in boiling water. How do I sanitize these parts?
If you can't boil certain breast pump parts, try steaming or your dishwasher's sanitize (or a hot water and heated drying cycle if there is no sanitize) setting.
The manufacturer should have instructions on how to best sanitize your breast pump parts.
Begin Your Breast Pumping Journey
You need to clean and sterilize your breast pump parts so your baby isn't exposed to bacteria or germs. You must follow proper breast pump care and inspect and clean the pump after each use.
BabyBuddha has all breast pump parts you need to nourish your little one. Take a look at our shop to find what you need for comfortable and convenient feedings.