Cleaning pumps and pump parts

How do I clean the pump and its parts?

It’s important to clean breast pumps to keep breast milk free of microbes that may harm a baby. New pumps will provide cleaning instructions. If it is borrowed or rented, mothers may need to check the manufacturer’s website for specific information. After each use, the parts that come in contact with breast milk and the mother's body, including bottles, valves, and breast shields should be cleaned. This is generally done by rinsing each piece in cool water soon after pumping and then washing them using hot water, liquid dish soap, and a brush used only for pump parts. The pieces should be air-dried, reassembled, and safely stored. The inside of parts that come in contact with breast milk should not be touched. Depending on the pump, mothers may be able to wash the parts in a dishwasher. 

A) The importance of cleaning breast pumps

Cleaning a pump is important to keep breast milk free of microbes that could infect the baby.

This is particularly important for babies who are more prone to infection such as those born premature (Brown 2017; McMullan 2018; Sundararajan 2018). Premature and vulnerable babies who are hospitalized are often at an increased risk of infection. Mothers may wish to consider cleaning pump parts by washing them in the dishwasher or sterilizing them by boiling as is done with infant formula-feeding. Ensure that your pump parts will not be damaged by boiling.

Please speak with your health-care providers for more information.

B) How to clean a pump

New pumps come with cleaning instructions. Please follow them. If you have a borrowed or rental pump, you can check the website of the manufacturer.   

After every use, clean the parts of the pump that come into contact with breast milk or your skin. These include:

Clean the parts as follows (US FDA 2018):

  1. Rinse each piece in cool water as soon as possible after pumping.
  2. Wash each piece separately using liquid dishwashing soap and hot water.
  3. Use a brush dedicated to cleaning pump parts and not one used for other purposes.
  4. Rinse each piece with hot water for 10 to 15 seconds.
  5. Place the pieces neatly on a clean paper towel or in a clean drying rack and allow them to air dry.
  6. Avoid using cloth towels to dry your pump parts, because they can carry microbes.
  7. Once the parts are dry, assemble the pump.
  8. Try not to touch the inside of any parts that will come into contact with your breast milk.
  9. The part of an electric pump that holds the motor should be wiped with a clean paper towel and water after use.
  10. Store the pump and its parts in a clean, dry area.

If soap is not available, boiling water can be used.

Alternatively, you can use a dishwasher, but check the pump manufacturer’s recommendations first. Refer to the above steps:

  1. Follow step 1.
  2. Place the parts on the top rack of the dishwasher.
  3. After washing, if the pieces are not dry after removal from the dishwasher, see steps 5 and 6 above.
  4. Follow steps 7 to 10 above.

If tubing has been in contact with breast milk, wash the tubing and ensure it is dry before storing.

Avoid using chemical agents to clean parts that contact milk. They may leave a residue that can be toxic to the baby.

References

Bowen A, Wiesenfeld HC, Kloesz JL, et al. Notes from the Field: Cronobacter sakazakii Infection Associated with Feeding Extrinsically Contaminated Expressed Human Milk to a Premature Infant - Pennsylvania, 2016. MMWR Morb Moral Wkly Rep 2017;66:761–762
 
McMullan R, Menon V, Beukers AG, et al. Cronobacter sakazakii Infection from Expressed Breast Milk, Australia. Emerg Infect Dis. 2018 Feb;24(2):393-394
 
Sundararajan M, Enane LA, Kidwell LA, et al. Notes from the Field: Cronobacter sakazakii Meningitis in a Full-Term Neonate Fed Exclusively with Breast Milk - Indiana, 2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018 Nov 9;67(44):1248-1249
 
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (US FDA). Cleaning a breast pump. Maryland: U. S. Food and Drug Administration; 2018 Jan 15 [cited 2020 Jan 13]