Wondering if you need to clean your breast pump tubing after each use? Not sure exactly how to wash it? Here’s everything you need to know about cleaning breast pump tubing.
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When should you clean your tubing?
You don’t need to clean your tubing after each use. In most cases, you only need to wash it when breast milk comes into contact with it.
However, check your breast pump instruction manual (usually they are available online) to see what the manufacturer recommends.
Some breast pump manufacturers who sell closed system breast pumps – which have a barrier between the pump parts and the tubing – recommend never washing tubing.
An example is Spectra, which uses a backflow protector to keep breast milk out of the tubing:
Spectra states that once tubing has gotten wet, there is no way to clean and sterilize it, and it should be replaced.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to confirm what the breast pump manufacturer recommends first.
How to clean breast pump tubing
If milk does get into your tubing, here’s how to wash it:
- First, rinse the tubing. You want to get any breast milk out of the tubes.
- In your wash basin (only used for breast pump parts), wash the tubing in warm soapy water.
- Rinse the tubing in cold, clear water.
- Shake the tubing to get as much water out as you can.
- Hang tubing to air dry.
When you are ready to pump again, if the tubing is not completely dry, you can attach the tubing to the pump without attaching the pump parts, and turn the pump on for a few minutes to get all of the moisture out.
What if there’s mold in your tubing?
If there is mold in your breast pump tubes, you should discard the tubes and replace them with new ones.
If you notice the mold right when you sit down to pump and you need to order replacement tubing, you have a few options:
- Try hand expression for that pumping session. More on how to do this here.
- If one of the tubing strands is free of mold, you can single pump each side, one after another. This will take twice as long, but will at least get the job done.
- Use a manual pump as a backup (it’s a good idea to have one on hand in case of power outages or your pump breaking).
Why does milk get in Medela tubing?
Some Medela breast pumps are open system pumps, which means that there is no barrier between the pump parts and the tubing (like the one in the photo above). This can allow breast milk to sometimes get into the tubing.
Any questions on cleaning breast pump tubing? Feel free to let me know if the comments!References
- US Food and Drug Administration. “Cleaning a Breast Pump.” https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bf-info/early-days/let-down-reflex
- Perles, Karen. “How to Clean your Breast Pump Parts.” https://www.care.com/c/stories/4411/coping-with-painful-letdown/