How to Clean your Breast Pump Parts

When it’s time to buy a breast pump, one important thing to know is that you’ll need to wash your breast pump accessories regularly. There are a few different methods for washing and cleaning breast pump parts and many mamas do a combination of methods. Here’s what you need to know about washing and sterilising breast pump parts.

Prepare your breast pump for first time use

Before you use your breast pump for the first time, you’ll need to prepare by sterilising all parts that come in contact with your baby’s milk. This includes the breastshield, backflow protector, valve, bottle, bottle neck, sealing disc, bottle cap, and teat. Make sure you fully disassemble the backflow protectors, valve + membrane sets, and remove the valve from the breastshield prior to sterilisation. Do not sterilise the tubing or pump motor. Getting the tubing wet can cause irreparable damage to the motor and allow moisture into the motor, creating a cozy environment for mould, mildew and bacteria to grow.

Using boiling water to sterilise your breast pump parts

There are a few different methods you can use to sterilise your breast pump parts. We recommend the boiling water method.

  1. Select a pot large enough to fit all the parts without them rubbing together, such as a stock pot.
  2. Fill it with plenty of water to fully saturate the parts and leave plenty of room for a rolling boil. Make sure parts have plenty of room to move around and aren’t nestled together as this can cause irreparable warping.
  3. Place on a stovetop and bring to a rolling boil.
  4. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
  5. Allow to cool to a manageable temperature, then use a a pair of tongues to carefully remove parts.
  6. Set them on a clean paper towel away from a high traffic area (don’t use a cloth towel as cloth can harbour bacteria).
  7. Allow to completely air dry prior to assembly.

Note: frequent sterilisation can cause your parts to deteriorate faster. If you follow a regular wash routine you shouldn’t need to sterilise more than just once. If your care provider has instructed you to sterilise your pump parts more frequently, you should do so. You may need to replace your parts more frequently.

How to wash your breast pump parts

We recommend hand-washing your parts whenever possible. Frequently microwaving or running parts through the dishwasher will cause them to deteriorate faster, just as frequent sterilisation does. When cleaning, make sure parts are fully disassembled (e.g. membranes removed from valves, valves removed from breastshields, and backflow protectors taken apart).

Hand washing

To hand-wash parts in the sink, you’ll need a separate wash basin, a dedicated sponge or bottle brush, clean paper towels, standard dish soap, and access to warm, potable water.

  • Fill up a wash basin with warm, soapy water.
  • Add your pump parts and ‘swoosh’ them around.
  • Wash each part part thoroughly; be careful with the membranes.
  • Rinse thoroughly in cool water.
  • Set to air dry on a clean paper towel away from high traffic areas.
  • Allow to completely dry prior to assembling.

Dishwasher, microwave, and cleaning solutions

Spectra breastshields, bottles, and other hard plastic accessories are BPA-free and can go through the dishwasher without worry of harmful residue – however, it will cause them to wear down more quickly. You should hand wash whenever possible.

Do not wash silicone parts like valves, membranes, teats, and backflow protector membranes in the dishwasherThese parts are delicate and should be hand washed whenever possible.

For microwave steam cleaners or cleaning solutions, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Pumping multiple times per day

If you’re pumping multiple times each day, you don’t have to wash your parts every time. Just put them in a sealed container like a snaplock bag and store them in the refrigerator between pumping sessions.

Note: This recommendation is assuming you have a healthy, full-term baby. For certain conditions your care provider might give alternative cleaning and sterilisation advise; always adhere to those. 

How to clean backflow protectors

You don’t need to clean your backflow protectors each time you use them. You only need to clean them if you see milk or moisture in them – don’t worry, this is completely normal and it means your backflow protectors have worked the way they should and protected your pump motor from harmful moisture. If you never see moisture in them, cleaning them every once in a while just to be safe is encouraged.

It’s important to replace the backflow protectors regularly to maintain proper performance of your breast pump. The silicone parts can wear down over time, causing the pump motor to work harder, a decrease in suction which can hurt your milk supply, or a loss in airtight seal allowing moisture into the tubing. Read our guide on replacing pump parts for how often you should replace your backflow protectors and other parts…

How to clean the tubing

The backflow protectors should prevent milk and condensation from entering the tubing, when working properly. If for some reason you’ve gotten milk or moisture in your tubing, there’s unfortunately no way to clean and sterilise it safely for future use. Tubing that has gotten wet needs to be replaced. That’s one reason why it’s really important to replace your backflow protectors regularly. Backflow protectors that have worn out can lose their moisture seal.

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51 thoughts on “How to Clean your Breast Pump Parts

  1. Duanqin says:

    It is mentioned that if we are pumping multiple times each day, we do not have to wash the parts every time. Just put them in a sealed container like a snaplock bag and store them in the refrigerator between pumping sessions.
    Should the backflow protectors and membranes be stored in the refrigerator between pumping sessions as well?

    • Spectra Team Australia says:

      Hi Duanquin, you can store them in the fridge with the other parts if you choose, but because the stems on the backflow protectors are so delicate, they are prone to snap if bent ever so slightly, so many mums find it best to leave them attached to the tubing, and wash them at the end of the day with all the other parts. 🙂

      • Duanqin says:

        But if I store the backflow protectors in the fridge, there might be condensation and I should dry them before each pumping session?
        Thanks!

        • Spectra Team Australia says:

          Yes, you should always start with dried backflow protectors to avoid that moisture travelling down the tubing. 🙂

  2. Michael Lim says:

    Hi,

    Upon sterilizing the equipment for 5 mins in boiling water, I had noticed the middle base of the baby bottles appear to have melted slightly. Just wondering if the bottles were manufactured that way?

    Thanks

    • Spectra Team says:

      Hi Michael, oh no! That is not typical at all. 🙁

      The only way we have seen any distortment from parts being sterilised was when there was not enough room for the parts to move freely during sterilising, and they were pressed up against other parts. 🙁

      It might be best if your send us a message to [email protected] where we can look at a picture of what has occurred for you. 🙂

      I will keep an eye out for your message. 🙂

  3. Lywong says:

    Hi, may I know if you would recommend to store the spectra hands free cup in the fridge after each pump and wash in hot soapy water once or twice per day?
    Thanks

  4. Ashley says:

    It says to sterilize before the very first use. If I’m using the sterilization microwave bags, is this okay for the first time? Is it okay to sterilize the valves and the soft parts of the backflow protectors for this first time?

    • Spectra Team says:

      Hi Ashley, you can use any sterilisation method you want the first time, if you want to sterilise.

      After that we recommend washing in hot soapy water and air drying well before next use. 🙂

      Sterilising, of any kind, and dishwasher use, deteriorates parts making them lose suction super fast. 🙂

      Happy pumping.

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