Do You Have To Wash Your Breast Pump Parts After Every Session? An Expert Weighs In

Ad failed to load

Throughout my first pregnancy, I was blissfully naive about the reality of caring for an infant. For one thing, I thought I'd still be able to co-host the poetry reading series I'd founded; surely I could just tie my baby to my chest and resume my regular activities. Also, I was excited to get a free breast pump through my insurance. Even though I planned to stay home, I thought pumping would make life more convenient. I didn't consider the extra tasks it might create, like cleaning. But do you have to wash your breast pump parts after every session? Luckily, you can use the top rack of your dishwasher to clean pump parts after each use. Experts say that while cleanliness is essential, complete sterilization isn't necessary or even possible.

According to doula and Breastfeeding Counselor Megan Davidson, "Keeping pump parts and bottles clean is important to prevent germs and harmful bacteria from getting in your baby’s food. That said, the goal really isn’t to sterilize the parts. Breasts and breast milk are not sterile—and that’s a good thing!" What does that mean? Davidson explains that "40 percent of the beneficial bacteria in a baby's gut might come from breastmilk and contact with the breast skin." There is always beneficial bacteria present on our skin and in breast milk, which is one of the reasons it's so good for babies.

In a society obsessed with antibacterial handsoap, it's understandable to equate all bacteria as bad. Thus you might think you need to sterilize your breast pump parts, meaning they would be "entirely free from bacteria and other living organisms," says Davidson. She emphasizes the fact that sterilization is not only unnecessary, it's not even possible to do at home. Breastfeeding mothers who pump milk should instead focus on sanitization, which is "the process of reducing the bacteria and other micro-organisms to a level that is safe," Davidson explains.

Ad failed to load

Like Davidson, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends sanitizing breast pump parts at least once a day, especially if your baby is younger than three months, was born prematurely, or has a weakened immune system for other reasons. The difference between general washing and sanitizing is the use of heat. Immersing breast pump parts in boiling water, steaming them in the microwave, or using a dishwasher's heated wash and dry settings are all methods of sanitizing.

If you're already using your dishwasher to clean your breast pump parts, you don't need a separate sanitizing step as long as you use hot water and heated drying. Davidson agrees that "warm water and soap (or a trip through the dishwasher or sanitizing in the microwave in a pinch) are all great options. Use a paper towel or clean dish rack to dry the parts and wash your hands before handling the pump or bottles. Much like the precautions you’d take with your own food, these basic hygiene steps will help ensure you don’t introduce germs or harmful bacteria into your baby’s food."

Ad failed to load

Whatever method of cleaning and/or sanitizing you use, it's important to consult the manufacturer's instructions first. They will tell you the best way to clean and care for your particular pump. Some women buy extra pump parts to make it easier to pump throughout the day at work. If you can't wash the pump pieces immediately at work, rinse them in cool water or wipe them down with specially designed cleaning wipes to remove milk residue. This will prevent germs from breeding until you take them home to wash them.

Just as you would take apart all the pieces of a bottle to wash each separately, be meticulous in separating the little pump parts so each gets thoroughly cleaned in the dish washer or hand wash. The FDA recommends drying with a paper towel instead of a cloth one to avoid contact with germs and bacteria. The organization also noted that you should put the pump back together after it dries and before storing it.

Ad failed to load

Having a baby adds a lot of demands and extra chores to your life, especially in the early days. While meticulously cleaning breast pump parts for the next day's use may be the last thing you want to do at the end of a long day, it's important for maintaining your baby's good health. You could also ask your partner to take ownership of this chore — after all, you're doing the hard work of feeding your child. It's like the adage that whoever makes dinner should not be the one who cleans up afterward.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Ad failed to load

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

6 Early Signs You're Going To Have A Short Labor, According To Experts

As far as I'm concerned, a short labor is right up there with winning the lottery in terms of lucky life events. (And when I was actually in labor, I would absolutely have traded a bucketful of lottery winnings for a speedier birth.) While some women…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In March

You can always count on Netflix to keep it fresh: though there are already so many movies and shows to choose from, every month there's an influx of new content to keep your entire family entertained. As February enters its final weeks, it's time to …
By Megan Walsh

Here Are 10 Ways To Boost Your Baby's Immunity To The Flu

As I'm sure you've read in the thousands upon thousands of articles written about it this winter, the flu is spreading like wildfire and it's bad. Really bad. This strand of flu is the worst we've had in a very long time and it's the most widespread,…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Khloé Kardashian Asked Twitter About Her Bump, & Moms Totally Delivered

Like her younger sister Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian managed to keep most of her pregnancy a sort-of secret. But unlike Jenner, Kardashian chose to publicly announce her pregnancy several months before the baby's due date. While there's no wrong wa…
By Sophie Hirsh

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

An Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the t…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack