How to clean a breast pump 

Breast pump with kid and woman in background

You’re new to the baby game and there’s a lot to get your head around. And sterilising breast pump parts probably isn’t top of the list of your favourite jobs – between stinky nappies and sicky bibs, you’ve got enough on your plate! And your clothes... And the furniture... 


The question ’do I need to sterilise a breast pump?’ probably never crossed your mind when you were busy bringing bubs into the world, either. But knowing how to sterilise breast pump parts is really important for your baby, and it’s pretty simple too. Phew. Let us show you just how easy it can be.  


Do I need to sterilise breast pump parts? 


Before we delve into the specifics of cleaning breast pumps, it’s important to address the question of why. And how often to sterilise breast pump parts, too.  


The simple answer to the first question is yes, you really do need to. Why? Because any parts that come into contact with breast milk – bottles, valves, breast shields, etc. – can be prone to germs and bacteria, which could be passed on to baby. 


In terms of how often to sterilise breast pump parts, you should wash them after every use, and do a deeper, more sanitising clean once a day. We’ll start by looking at the cleaning after use steps, and then we’ll move onto sterilising breast pump parts. 


How to clean breast pump parts 


It’s a beautiful thing, watching your baby enjoy a nutritious feed of the milk you’ve expressed. The breast pump? Not always quite so beautiful. Sometimes it’s even a little gloopy. Sometimes a lot gloopy. Ahh the wonder of human biology.  


You love your little one to bits, and quickly after they gifted the world with their presence, you realised there’d be no length you wouldn’t go to make them happy. And one of those lengths is cleaning breast pump parts, too. (Disclaimer: nobody really loves cleaning breast pumps, you’re not alone!) 


Here’s how to clean breast pump parts after each use: 


  1. Check the pump’s manual for instructions to help identify which parts need regular cleaning. 
  1. Rinse off the parts that have come into contact with the milk, with cool or lukewarm water. 
  1. Gently scrub and wipe with a little washing up liquid. 
  1. Rinse in clean hot water. 
  1. Lay the parts out on absorbent kitchen towel to dry. 
  1. Once dry you can put it back together or store the parts for later use. 


Tip: Use some sheets of Plenty kitchen towel for wiping and drying your breast pump. It’s famous for wet strength, so it won’t break down when cleaning, or leave any little pieces of tissue stuck to the pump. It’s also super-absorbent, so it’s perfect for the drying part.    


How to sterilise breast pump parts 


Cleaning your breast pump after use is going to reduce the risk of germs and bacteria building up, and help prevent the icky-sticky stuff from forming. But you’ll also want to do a deeper clean to increase the sterile nature of your pump. You should always check the manufacturer’s guide for instructions about what you can sterilise. 


Here are three methods to get the job done: 


  • In the microwave. Some breast pumps specify this as a method. Read the instructions and, if you’re not sure, try one of the other methods. Be guided by the timings and temperatures as laid out in the manufacturer’s guide.  
  • In boiling water. Bring a large pan or pans to the boil and then submerge the breast pump parts for five minutes to help kill off potential bacteria. Rinse and then leave on kitchen towel to dry. 
  • In cold water with sterilising tablets. Make a sterilising solution of cool water and the tablets in a large, clean container, and fully submerge all parts. You can use something heavy to weigh them down, under the water. Always follow the product instructions; they’ll give you the finer details like how long to leave the parts in the solution for. Once done, rinse thoroughly with cooled boiled water, and dry. 


Cleaning a gloopy breast pump probably isn’t your favourite pastime when you could be ogling over how cute your little one is, but by following this guide you can make it a simple and effective job. That’ll save you time and hassle in the long run… so you can get back to cuddles with bubs. 



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