Oh breast pumping — there is absolutely nothing I miss about that experience. Sure, I miss nursing my son, but that breast pump? Not so much. I clearly remember the day I stopped nursing because it was such a momentous decision for me. I couldn't tell you when I stopped pumping because I'm pretty sure I blocked 99 percent of my pumping experience out of my memory. That's what makes new breast pump guidelines all the more infuriating, because if I had these in place when I was pumping, I probably would have blown a mom-gasket. And according to new CDC guidelines, you're probably washing your breast pump the wrong way too.
Its not like breast pumps weren't frustrating enough already — between finding the right flange size, to the pump's dull mechanical tempo, or those awful hand cramps for manual pumps. But that's not enough, because now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that breast pumps shouldn't be washed in the sink, but rather in a "wash basin," among other things. (Is this the 1870s? Who has a wash basin?)
The reasoning is sound: The CDC noted that sinks can be full of germs. And though there's definitely an added level of impracticality when it comes to being uber-vigilant about hygienic breast pump cleaning techniques, the CDC has you covered. So, despite how pesky and annoying it may seem to add more steps to your routine, make sure you follow the instructions below if you want to keep things sanitary.
Use A Wash Basin
Okay, now about this "wash basin" recommendation — you don't need to fire up your wood stove and boil your water in your cast iron kettle, running your flanges, valves, and tubes down one of those ribbed washing boards. The CDC's recommendation is far simpler: "Place pump parts in a clean wash basin used only for washing infant feeding equipment." Something that fits inside your sink but prevents pump parts from touching the sink works just fine.
Use Your Dishwasher
This is an oldie but a goodie, as many lactating mamas have known: Many breast pump parts can actually be washed in the dishwasher — but only on the top rack. Melted breast pump parts are no bueno. Using a dishwasher to clean your breast pump parts also has the added bonus of sanitizing them at the same time if you have a sanitize cycle. As always: Check the instructions that come with your breast pump to see if yours is dishwasher-safe.
In A Pinch, Use Breast Pump Wipes
There's a wipe for everything — including for your breast pump parts. While simply wiping your breast pump supplies isn't recommended as your standalone cleaning method, breast pump wipes are super helpful for working moms who don't have access to their dedicated wash basin or a dishwasher at work. At the very least, wipes are helpful to quickly wipe up any breast milk residue before packing up your pump and giving it a more thorough wash at home.
Always Allow To Air Dry
This is a biggie, as the CDC points out: Wiping down freshly cleaned breast pump parts with a cloth or a paper towel increases the chance that you could undo all of your cleaning work by rubbing germs all over those parts. The best thing you can do when you're done cleaning your breast pump is to let all of the pieces air dry separately.
Ultimately, the new CDC guidelines about cleaning breast pumps aren't meant to make moms' lives more difficult — they're about keeping those hungry babies safe and healthy. And who can fault them for that?