How To Sterilise Your Breast Pump Equipment- An Expert Guide In Pump Hygiene

Learn how to thoroughly sterilize your breast pump. A step-by-step guide to taking the pump apart and cleaning the equipment. Expert tips for hygienic breast pump tubing and accessories.

Follow Maria's top tips for keeping your breast pump clean. Focusing on the Ameda Platinum breast pump and the Medela Symphony breast pump. Maria's step-by-step guide to pump hygiene can be applied to any type of breast pump. 

Why is it important to have a clean breast pump?  

When you first receive your breast pump, it should be sterile and ready to use. To make sure that it stays hygienic throughout your breast-pumping journey you need to thoroughly sterilize it after each use. 

Here's why.

Where there is liquid, there is life.

This is a wonderful thing when it comes to providing your baby with all that wonderful breast milk goodness that you are expressing. You are offering your baby vital liquid nutrients, protein, fats and yes bacteria. Healthy bacteria that is fabulous for their immune system and their digestive system. But, healthy bacteria can become dangerous bacteria if it is left to turn to mould. Germs can very quickly grow on breast pumps and on the breast pump equipment used for expressing milk and storing it.

Should your baby ingest harmful bacteria they could become unwell, typically with bacterial infections that impact the lungs and the stomach. That is why it is important that you thoroughly clean the breast pump after each use. 

These issues are very easily avoided with a simple breast pump cleaning routine. Keep reading to find out how you can incorporate a breast pump parts cleaning program into your daily routine.   

Equipment For Sterilizing A Breast Pump  

There are a few 'must have' breast pump cleaning items that are essential in pump hygiene. There are also a few 'can have' items that will make your life a little easier and the process a little more efficient.

  • A large bowl of warm soapy water
  • A smaller bowl full of cold water
  • A cleaning product such as regular dish soap or a baby equipment cleaning product such as Dapple
  • Microwave sterilising bags
  • A microwave sterilising machine
  • Paper towels 

Cleaning and sanitizing a breast pump is not as difficult a task as it may seem. Follow along with Maria as she expertly guides you through the step-by-step process for ensuring that your breast pump is clean and hygienic.   

Step 1: Wash Your Hands. We have all become stringent experts in hand washing since the Covid-19 global pandemic. We all understand the role that dirty hands have in spreading germs. Newborns are especially vulnerable to nasty viruses and disease so there it no better time to embrace super clean hands than when you are about to sterilise your breast pump, breast pump kit and the baby's bottles. 

Here's how to make sure that your hands are sparkly clean before you sanitize a breast pump: 

  • Use warm water (as warm as you can manage it)
  • Use plenty of soap
  • Make sure you get the palms, thumbs, in between the fingers and under the nails as much as you can
  • Rub and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds
  • Rinse them thoroughly under hot/warm water
  • Dry your hands thoroughly on a clean paper towel
  • Turn off the tap using the paper towel that you dried your hands with
  • Discard of the paper towel without touching the bin's surfaces ( a foot operated lid is ideal for this)
  • Try not to touch your face or other household items until after you have finished cleaning the breast pump

Step 2: Remove the parts that don't need to be washed and set them aside. Remember that only the parts of the pump and the kit equipment that come into contact with your body or your milk need to be sterilized. This means that you can remove the tubing and the caps and set them aside. There is no need to sterilize the breast pump itself either. Although, it is always a good idea

Place the membranes in the warm soapy water. Dismantle everything including the valves and breast shields and bottles and place all of the items into the bowl of warm soapy water. All of the Ameda pumps have the same equipment and breast pumping accessories so it doesn't matter which type of Ameda breast pump that you have. 

If you are using the Medela breast pump you are going to have slightly different pieces of equipment. Again, the Medela breast pump tubing does not need to be washed because it has not come into contact with your milk. Remove the tubing from the back of the breast shield and the pump and put them aside. To dismantle the Medela Parts take the front of the breast shields off. Carefully turn and pull the valve off and also remove the white membrane, This is where the milk comes out so it is important to make sure that it is squeaky clean. 

Step 3: Thoroughly wash all of the items that are in the bowl of warm soapy water. It often happens that the milk bottles have a milky sheen on the inside of them. This is because breast milk is quite a fatty product. This is a good thing because your baby needs all of that delicious fatty milk to grow and flourish. But, it is important to remove the milky residue from inside of the bottle; otherwise it will develop into bad bacteria. Let the items in the bowl soak for a few minutes to loosen and heat up any stubborn milk residue. This will make them easier to clean. In this video, Maria is using a product called Dapple. It is a natural cleaning agent that gently but thoroughly cleans baby-feeding products. It is a well recommended product here at the New Mummy Company and it is also easy on the pocket! Regular dish soap will also do the job.   

Step 4: Clean out the bottles: The bottles are generally a baby-feeding product that comes into contact with your milk for the longest; especially if you are pumping your breast milk and storing it in bottles in the fridge for later use. We definitely recommend using a type of brush that is specifically designed to clean out baby bottles. (Maria is using Munchkin and Phillips bottlebrush in this video). This is simply because any old brush that you are using to clean your dishes with won't be as clean as you need it to be. You don't want little old pieces of Lasagna getting caught up in your baby's feeding bottles teats. A bottlebrush is also good for getting properly into the parts. There are sections of the Munchkin and Phillips brush that are specifically designed to clean the membrane and valves of a breast pump. Get the bottlebrush wet and soapy and scrub at all of the parts. When you are cleaning the valve and the membrane, use the part of the bottlebrush that is specifically designed to get into the nooks and crannies. Get into the holes and make sure that you get into the part that the milk flows from. The membrane is especially important, make sure that it is not puckered or torn, as this element is vital to the pump's suction, be careful not to damage it.

It is normal to hear the feeding equipment squeak, this is a good sign that it is clean. Make sure that you get into any of the parts that could be harbouring milk residue.  Remember that dried up old milk leads to mould which leads to poorly baby.  

Step 5: The bowl of cold water is there to clean the dish soap off of the equipment. Place each item into the bowl of cold water as you go. You can also run them under the tap but a bowl is more economical and environmentally friendly.

Step 6: Sterilisation: There's three ways that you can sterilise your breast pump equipment. Two ways make use of a microwave. The other way is to boil the items on the stovetop.

Microwave Sterilisation. 

Steam sterilising bags. Steam sterilisation is not recommended with some products so make sure that you check with the type of breast pump that you are using. The Medela Sterilising bag is a great tool. Each bag can be used 20 times, making it a very cost effective sterilising option. Make sure that you follow the instruction on the side for the amount of water that you use and the timings. Be careful not to burn yourself, as the steam is super hot. Simply open the bag, place the items in with 60 mls of water, make sure the vent is open, and then set the microwave timer dependant on the wattage of your microwave. Simple. 

Microwave Steam Steriliser:  Follow the instructions for your particular sterilising machine. Put water in the base and add all of the equipment upside down so that the steam can rise, in away that it fit. Pop the machine into the microwave for the recommended amount of time. Be careful not to burn yourself.  

Stove Top Sterilisation. Simply place all of the breast pump items to be sterilised, place them in a large saucepan full of boiling water. Boil the items for about 20minutes. It is a good time to set a timer so that you don't forget them. If the water boils away your equipment will melt.

And that's it.

You now how super clean breast pump equipment ready for the next time that you express your milk.  

Happy pumping.