When you’re exclusively pumping, washing all of your breast pump parts and bottles can be a lot of work! On top of washing everything, how often do you need to sterilize your breast pump parts? And what’s the best way to do it?
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How Often Should You Sterilize Breast Pump Parts?
Thankfully, you don’t have to sterilize your pump parts after every pumping session. Here’s what the CDC says:
For extra germ removal, sanitize feeding items at least once daily. Sanitizing is particularly important when your baby is younger than 3 months, was born prematurely, or has a weakened immune system. Daily sanitizing of feeding items may not be necessary for older, healthy babies, if those items are cleaned carefully after each use.
So to summarize that, what I would suggest is:
- Sterilize daily if your baby is under 3 months old, is a preemie, or is sick
- Sterilize every few days if your baby is full-term, healthy, and older than 3 months
How to Sterilize Pump Parts
The good news is that sanitizing pump parts doesn’t have to be very labor intensive at all. Below are five ways (from easiest to hardest) to sterilize your pump parts, wash basin, and bottle brush.
Note: Before starting the process, you should take apart, wash, and rinse your pump parts. Additionally, make sure to read your pump manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning the parts.
1. Use a Sterilizer
A sterilizer is a machine that you put your clean pump parts and bottles into, and it sterilizes them with steam.
2. Microwave Steam Bag
The next easiest way to sterilize your pump parts is in a microwave steam bag or container. Medela makes one that I used:
To use, you generally put a bit of water in the bag or container with your pump parts, seal it, and run the microwave for the amount of time specified. Make sure to follow the instructions on the bag.
The bag will be extremely hot when you take open it, so be careful not to burn yourself. Let the air out and transfer the pump parts with clean tongs to a clean towel to air dry.
If you use the dishwasher, you obviously don’t need to wash your pump parts ahead of time. Just put the pump parts in a dishwasher basket and wash them on the top rack with hot water and a heated drying cycle/sanitizing setting.
(Note that Spectra does not recommend using a heated drying cycle on Spectra pump parts. Always double check with your pump manufacturer.)
Here’s a story showing how to wash pump parts in the dishwasher:
4. Boil in a Pot
You can also sterilize pump parts in a pot of the stove. To do this:
1. Take your pump parts apart, and cover them with water.
2. Turn the heat on and bring the water to a boil.
3. Boil for 5 minutes.
4. Remove pump parts with clean tongs and set them out to air dry.
If you’re not able to sterilize your breast pump parts in any of the other ways, you can use bleach. Here’s how to do it:
1. In a clean wash basin, add a gallon of water and 2 tsp unscented bleach.
2. Submerge all pump parts completely, making sure each part is touched by the bleach. Squeeze the solution through nipple holes.
3. Soak pump parts for 2 minutes.
4. Remove with clean tongs or with your (clean) hands. Do not rinse; the remaining bleach will break down and not affect your baby.
If You Have Hard Water
If you have hard water, you may notice residue on your pump parts and bottles after sterilizing. Here are a few options that some moms have found helpful if this is the case for you:
- Using distilled water for sterilizing.
- Running the water through a Brita filter before using it to sterilize.
- Putting a 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar in with the boiling water.
- Putting a few drops of lemon juice in with the boiling water.
How often do you sterilize your breast pump parts? Which way do you usually sanitize them?References
- CDC. “How to Clean, Sanitize, and Store Infant Feeding Items.” https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/healthychildcare/infantfeeding/cleansanitize.html