Breast pumps and pumping gear can get expensive. Is buying used breast pumps safe? What about other pumping accessories? Here’s what to consider.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click through and make a purchase, I’ll be compensated at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I love! More info here.
Is buying a used breast pump and pumping gear safe?
It depends on what you’re buying. Most pumping gear and accessories can be safely used when purchased second-hand.
For buying a second-hand breast pump, there are two different concepts that you want to think about:
- Open system versus closed system. Closed system breast pumps have a barrier between the pump parts and tubing, preventing breast milk from reaching the motor. Open system breast pumps do not have this barrier.
- Single-user versus multi-user. Most breast pump manufacturers designate a pump as single-user (intended to be used by one person) or multi-user (to be used by multiple people, such as in a hospital setting).
Most personal breast pumps (such as the Spectra S1 and S2, Medela Pump in Style with Max Flow, etc.) are now closed system and single-user. (Older Medela personal pumps like the original Pump in Style are open system.)
Buying a closed system, single-user breast pump is probably fine. Keep in mind that because the breast pump manufacturer designated it as single-user, the warranty usually only applies to the original owner. This means that if the pump breaks after you buy it, you’re probably out of luck.
Though the chances of anything happening are somewhat remote, I wouldn’t recommend buying a used open system breast pump, because the pump motor cannot be sterilized.
Buying a second-hand multi-user breast pump should be fine. You may want to ask the person you’re buying from about the warranty and whether it still applies.
Breast pump accessories
Most breast pump accessories can be washed and sterilized and safely used by another person.
When deciding whether or not to buy an accessory second-hand, here’s what I would consider:
- Does this accessory come into contact with breast milk?
- If it does, can it be sterilized? If so, it should be fine to sterilize the item and use it. If not, I would avoid buying this item.
- If it doesn’t, can be it washed? If so, washing should clean it sufficiently for it to be re-used.
So for example, let’s say you find someone selling a gently used Elvie Catch (a milk catcher that goes in your bra) in a Facebook group. Because the Elvie Catch can be sterilized by washing it in the dishwasher, this should be fine.
But let’s say that someone is selling pump parts that they used a few times, and the manufacturer says that the duckbill valves should not be sterilized. I would avoid buying these pump parts.
Buying second-hand breastfeeding apparel such as nursing bras, nursing tanks, and nursing tops is fine. You’d just want to make sure to wash before wearing.
Keep in mind that apparel like nursing bras and tanks may get stretched out over time, making them less effective, so asking about the condition before you buy is a good idea.
Where can you buy second-hand breast pump gear?
Often, thrift stores and places that accept donations don’t accept breast pump gear, because breast pumps are considered medical devices.
So where can you find breast pumps and other pumping gear second-hand when you’re interested in purchasing them?
Facebook Groups or Marketplace
I asked on Instagram where people had bought and sold secondhand pumping gear, and Facebook Groups and Marketplace were the top answers. Some of the groups mentioned included:
- Local “Buy Nothing” groups
- Local new mom groups
- Exclusive Pumping Buy/Sell/Trade groups (EP Trading Post is an example, though please note that I am not affiliated with this group)
Other people mentioned that they had bought pumping gear second-hand on Mercari or Ebay.
Milkstash is a new marketplace that specializes in breastfeeding and pumping gear.
One of the benefits of using Milkstash is that it’s more secure than other online marketplaces. Each sale must be made using a debit or credit card (Venmo, PayPal and cash transactions aren’t allowed). In the event that the buyer requests a refund, Milkstash will investigate, determine if a refund is required, and facilitate it if it is.
You can also donate items via Milkstash.
What to watch out for when buying breast pump gear second-hand
Here are a few things that I wanted to highlight again to think about when you’re buying breast pumps or pumping accessories that have been gently used.
- Warranty – If the item has a warranty, will it transfer to you or is it only valid for the original owner? If it won’t transfer to you, consider how big of a deal it will be to you if it breaks or stops working.
- Can be it sufficiently cleaned to be safe for baby? If the item will come into contact with breast milk, make sure that you can sterilize it in the dishwasher, by boiling it, etc.
- Is it really still good? For some products, it’s important that the item not be stretched out. For example, if a hands-free pumping bra is stretched too much, even if it’s in otherwise good condition, it won’t hold up your flanges securely.
Have you considered buying a used breast pump or other pumping gear? How did it go? Tell us in the comments!