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How To Clean Your Breast Pump and Why It’s Important

Nursing moms, did you know you can prevent the spread of deadly bacteria by making sure to clean your breast pump often and properly?

Updated May 21, 2024

by Dr. Jessica Madden

board-certified neonatologist, pediatrician, and lactation consultant (IBCLC)

New moms are well aware of the risks that harmful bacteria can pose to a newborn. We often discuss the importance of having guests wash their hands before holding your baby or avoiding public spaces where germs may proliferate, but perhaps even more essential to your infant’s safety is the practice of maintaining a clean breast pump! Learning to properly clean your breast pump and store breast milk in ways that prevent the growth of bacteria is essential to protecting your little one’s good health.

The Best Ways To Clean Your Breast Pump (and Why You Should!)

Every part of your breast pump that comes into contact with your breast or breast milk needs to be cleaned, including the valves, membranes, breast shields, connectors, and more. This is because the moisture in breast milk quickly creates the perfect environment for mold, mildew, and germs to quickly grow and flourish.

Before Each Pumping Session

Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water. Then, follow these steps:

  • Inspect your breast pump kit and accessories as you assemble the pump. Tubing that’s moldy or has water droplets inside must be thrown away.
  • Use disinfectant wipes to clean your breast pump dials, switches, and the surface on which you’ll place it.

After Each Pumping Session

Follow these steps after pumping:

  • Clean your breast pump area, surface, dials, and switches with disinfectant wipes.
  • Disassemble your breast pump and separate each of the parts that came into contact with your breast or milk.
  • Rinse each part under running water to wash away any remaining milk. Do not place these items directly into the sink.
  • Refer to your breast pump manual in case you can place some pump accessories in the dishwasher. Otherwise, wash the parts by hand in a washbasin that’s only used when cleaning your breast pump kit and infant feeding items.
  • Place the basin, breast pump parts, and bottle brush on a clean dish or paper towel to dry.
  • Allow each part to air dry.* Do not pat them or rub them with a towel to dry.

*Note: do not store your breast pump until each part is 100% dry to prevent mold and bacteria growth.

After Cleaning

For extra germ removal, sanitize pump parts, wash basin, and bottle brush at least once daily after cleaning them. Items can be sanitized using steam, boiling water, or a dishwasher with a sanitize setting. Sanitizing is especially important if your baby is less than three months old, was born prematurely, or has a weakened immune system due to illness or medical treatment. For detailed instructions on sanitizing your pump parts, visit this link.

Store Parts Safely

Store dry items safely until needed. Ensure the clean pump parts, bottle brushes, and wash basins have been air-dried thoroughly before storing. Items must be completely dry to help prevent germs and mold from growing. Store dry items in a clean, protected area.

Properly Storing Your Breast Milk

Breast milk has a certain timeframe in which it needs to be used to provide the most nourishment possible. Whether stored at room temperature, refrigerated, or frozen, breast milk can sometimes go bad before you’re able to use it. The lifespan of your pumped milk will vary between storage methods due to temperature conditions and exposure.

Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored at room temperature for four to six hours.

  • Breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days between 32 to 39F.
  • Breast milk can be stored in the freezer for up to six months and 12 months in a deep freezer.
Breast Pump Cleaning Guide

Print or save cleaning guide

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Jessica Madden
Dr. Jessica Madden board-certified neonatologist, pediatrician, and lactation consultant (IBCLC)
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Jessica Madden, MD, is a board-certified neonatologist, pediatrician, and lactation consultant (IBCLC) who is passionate about breastfeeding medicine, perinatal mental health disorders, "fourth-trimester" mother-baby care, and the neurodevelopmental follow-up of… Read more

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