How to Clean Your Breast Pump and Parts

AllisonMS, RDN, CDN

Read time: 6 minutes

What to know about cleaning your breast pump

  • What to do before starting to pump

  • How to clean your breast pump and parts

  • Knowing how and when to sanitize breast pump parts

Breast pumps are an essential item for many people who breastfeed. Whether you use your pump all the time or just occasionally, taking care of your breast pump and cleaning it correctly is important to help make sure the milk you pump is clean and safe.

Read on to learn how to properly clean your breast pump.

What to do before pumping breastmilk

If your breast pump is new (or new to you), be sure to read the pump’s instruction manual to check for cleaning instructions, such as whether you can wash the pump parts in a dishwasher, or if certain parts need to be washed by hand.4

1. Check your pump’s tubing

Before each time you pump, inspect whether the pump kit or tubing has become moldy or damaged since the last time you pumped. If your tubing is moldy, or any parts are damaged, throw it out and replace it with new ones.1,3

Note that using damaged or worn-out parts may lead to poor pump suction and may interfere with the safety of the pump or your milk.

If using your pump correctly, the tubing should not come in contact with milk at all and therefore does not need to be cleaned.1 Since tubing is difficult to clean well, it must be thrown out and replaced if it becomes moldy, cloudy, or soiled.

If condensation (water droplets) appears in the tubing after you have pumped, it must be dried out to help prevent the growth of mold.1

To do this: disconnect the tubing from the flanges while keeping the other end attached to the pump, then turn the pump on for a few minutes until the tubing is dry.12

2. Before using a shared multi-user breast pump

If you are using a hospital-grade shared pump, use a disinfectant wipe to clean the exterior of the pump and the surrounding areas, such as the counter, before getting started.1,3

Note that if the pump you’re using is designated as a multiple-user pump, you must use your own accessories kit, which normally includes the breast shield (flange), tubing, and bottle or bag for milk storage. These items should not be shared to help avoid contamination between users.5

Pumps that are sold as ‘single user’ should not be shared.5

3. Wash your hands

Always wash your hands with warm water and soap to help prevent cross-contamination of bacteria onto the pump.1,3

Contact your pump manufacturer if you have questions about whether a pump can be shared and when tubing or other pump parts should be replaced.

Learn More:

How to Choose the Right Breast Pump

Top Tips for Pumping Breastmilk

Have questions about cleaning your pump? Reach out to our team of registered dietitian nutritionists and lactation consultants for free! They’re here to help on our free live chat from Monday – Friday 8am - 6pm (ET). Chat Now!

Preparing to clean your breast pump after use

1. Label and store breastmilk

After you are finished using your pump, label and store your breastmilk right away in the refrigerator, freezer, or cooler bag with ice packs.

2. Wipe the pump's exterior with a clean cloth

Next, wipe the exterior of the pump’s mechanical unit with a clean paper towel or cloth.2 If using a multi-user pump, use a disinfectant wipe for this step.1,3

3. Separate pump parts and rinse in water before cleaning

Detach the tubing and set aside. Separate and rinse all the parts that come in contact with breastmilk: flanges, valves, membranes, connectors, and milk collection bottles, to prepare them for cleaning.1

Learn about: Safe Storage of Pumped Breastmilk

How to clean your breast pump parts

Cleaning pump parts by hand

  • Have a designated cleaning bin and brush for pump parts to avoid transferring germs that may be in the sink or on used kitchen sponges or brushes.

  • To wash: Fill a clean bin with hot water and soap and use the brush to scrub the parts.1

  • Rinse parts under fresh running warm water.

  • Air-dry the parts completely. Place the pump parts on a clean, unused dish towel or paper towel. Ensure the drying area is shielded from dirt and dust.

  • There are also drying racks that can be used. If using a drying rack, be sure it is designated for the pump parts only and washed between uses. Avoid using a used dish towel to dry items because doing so may introduce germs.1,2,3

Cleaning pump parts in the dishwasher

  • Place separated parts on the top rack and use a sanitizing setting or heated cycle if possible. You can also place small pieces in a closed basket or mesh bag that is dishwasher safe.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before emptying pump parts from the dishwasher. If items are not completely dry, let them air dry on a clean, unused dish towel or paper towel.1,2

Pump Cleaning Tips

  1. Rinse the cleaning bin and brush after each use and allow them to air dry.

  2. Consider washing the brush and bin in the dishwasher every few days to sanitize them as well. If they are not dishwasher safe, wash them by hand with soap and hot water and allow to air dry.

  3. Remember that it is not necessary to clean the tubing of your breast pump.

Sanitizing your breast pump parts

For extra protection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend sanitizing the breast pump parts at least once per day.1

This may be particularly important if your baby is under 3 months old, has a weakened immune system, or was born prematurely.1,3

To sanitize your breast pump parts
  • Clean parts first as instructed above

  • Boil parts that are safe to boil in a pot of water for 5 minutes

  • Use clean tongs to remove items

  • Air dry as mentioned above1

If your pump parts cannot be boiled, you can check to see if the manufacturer recommends steaming them. This can be done with pump-specific microwave steam sanitizer bags.

*Note that these steam sanitizer bags do not sanitize to the standards of the US Food and Drug Administration; however, they are sufficient for single-use pump parts.2

Check with your baby’s pediatrician if you have questions about whether sanitizing your breast pump parts is necessary.

Learn more: Pumping for A Baby in the NICU

Frequently asked questions and tips on pumping breast milk

Can I store my pump in the fridge between pumping sessions without washing it?

The CDC recommends cleaning pump parts between each pumping session.

If you truly cannot adequately wash the pump parts between pumping sessions, the CDC suggests: washing your hands, rinsing the parts in fresh running water, keeping the parts in a clean sealed bag in the refrigerator to help prevent contamination, and storing only for a few hours.4

However, it is very important to note that while refrigeration may slow the growth of bacteria, it does not stop the growth of bacteria completely.4 Babies have become sick from drinking milk contaminated by bacteria grown on pump parts that were not adequately cleaned.6,7

Cleaning breast pump parts between each feeding is an important way to help protect your baby.4

To lower the risk of contamination, consider keeping a spare pumping kit on hand if you are not able to thoroughly clean pump parts between pumping sessions.

Label pumped breastmilk

Make sure your pumped milk is capped or sealed and labeled with date and time.

If you send pumped milk to a daycare center, label it with your child’s name. Then immediately place it in the fridge, freezer, or cooler bag with ice packs.8

If using a shared fridge, place the sealed breastmilk in another sealed bag and write your name on the bag.

Replace pump parts when recommended

It is important to replace parts of your breast pump to keep it working safely and efficiently.

According to pump manufacturers, using worn-out parts may lead to a lower pump suction and lower breastmilk output. When less milk is taken out of the breasts, that may eventually negatively affect your breastmilk supply as well.9

Read your pump’s instruction manual to get more information on how often you may need to replace duck valves or membranes, flanges, and tubing.

Let’s Chat!

We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.

Our Happy Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday – Friday 8am-6pm (ET). Chat Now!

Read more about the experts who help write our content!

For more on this topic, check out the following articles:

How do I Supplement my Breastfed baby with Formula?

Breastfeeding and Pumping Tips for Going Back to Work

Breastfeeding: How to Support a Good Milk Supply

Top Breastfeeding Latching Tips

What to do about Sore Nipple while Breastfeeding