How to Clean and Sterilize the Breast Pump

Breast milk is a health tonic that aids in the proper growth and development of your baby. A breast pump is the best way to pump your breast milk and provide it to your baby at any time (even at your absence). The main drawback of storing and feeding this milk is that quick growth of germs in breast milk or its residue remains on the parts of the breast pump.

Regular cleaning and sterilizing of the breast pump will ensure a safe and healthy pumping and thus protect the baby from germs. Here are the guidelines on how to clean and sanitize the breast pump properly.

Before Using:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly for about 20 – 30 seconds before you start the process.
  • Check whether the pump kit/tubing has soiled or moldy during its storage and if it is moldy, discard and replace with a new one.
  • Clean the pump dials, countertop and power switch with a disinfectant wipe, while you’re using a shared one.

After Usage:

  • Store the milk safely in a bottle/bag with a label mentioning date and time. Place it in the refrigerator or freezer for its storage.
  • Separate all parts of the breast pump kit which come in contact with the breast and rinse those parts by under running water to clean it thoroughly either with your hand or dishwasher.

Extra Germ Removal:

  • If your baby was born prematurely or has less than 3 months old or weak immune system, then daily sanitization of pump parts are essential for germ removal.
  • For this, you have to sanitize the pump parts, bottle brushes, and washbasins after they cleaned. One can either use either steam or boil methods to sanitize the kit.
  • Finally, place the sanitized and clean pump parts, bottle brush and washbasin in a dry area. Allow it to air dry before storing to prevent any molds or germs from growing.
  • After they dried thoroughly, you have to store the items in a clean and well-protected area to prevent contamination during its storage.

How to Sanitize/Sterilize the Breast Pump?

It is essential to rinse your breast pump and its parts after each usage. Most experts suggest sanitizing the breast pump parts and accessories for once daily after they washed. There are various methods used to sanitize/sterilize the breast pump.

Boiling Method –

  • You can sterilize the pump parts and bottle in a pot of boiling water.
  • Separate all parts, which comes in contact with breast and milk.
  • Rinse your hands and pour enough water in a pot till it covers all the pump parts.
  • Bring it to a boil and place those parts in boiling water for about 10 minutes.
  • Let the water cool down and take out the parts gently from water by using clean tongs.
  • Air-dry it thoroughly and store them in a clean and a cool place while not using.

Steam Method –

  • Steam will kill 99% of most harmful germs and bacteria. It effectively disinfects most breast pump accessories, pacifiers, nipples, bottles and cups.
  • You can use quick clean micro-steam bag or container, which works in approximately 3 minutes.
  • All you need is a microwave and water to sanitize the breast pump and breastmilk feeding accessories. Pour some water in a bag with all those pump parts.
  • Seal it to run in a microwave for 3 – 5 minutes.
  • After that, take it out but be careful it is hot and may burn you.
  • Let the air out and transfer these parts into a clean towel with tongs to air dry.
  • Or you can use electric steam sterilizers to clean the breast pump parts and bottles. It sterilizes and then dries out everything. It is a quick and easy way to sanitize your breast pump parts.

Bleach Method –

  • You can use bleach if you are unable to sterilize the parts in either boiling or steaming methods. Here’s we go through the process.
  • Add 2 teaspoons of unscented bleach in a gallon of water.
  • Place it in a clean wash basin and submerge all those pump parts in it.
  • Be sure that every part should touch by bleach.
  • Gently squeeze the solution through nipple holes and soak the pump parts for 2 minutes.
  • Take them out with clean hands and avoid rinsing, as the remaining bleach will break down and won’t cause any effect to your baby.

Distilled Water Method –

  • This method is used when you have hard water and this may leave some residue on the pump parts even after sterilizing. Have a look at a few options.
  • Simply use distilled water for sanitizing.
  • Before using hard water to sterilize, you have to run the water through the filter.
  • Pour 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar (or a few drops of lemon juice) in the boiling water (hard water) and sanitize the parts in it.

How to Wash the Breast Pump Parts?

You can wash your breast pumps parts in two different ways – in the sink by hand or in a dishwasher. Have a look at it to know how to rinse the breast pump parts.

Wash Basin in Sink –

  • Wash your breast pump parts in the sink using a large bowl or washbasin, which is made for cleaning breastfeeding supplies.
  • Rinse all the parts, which are separated and come in contact with breast milk in cool water.
  • Soak these parts in warm soapy water for about 5 minutes.
  • Wash them thoroughly and air dries them completely.
  • Store these dry parts in a clean and dry place when not using.

Dishwasher –

  • Place all those separated parts of the breast pump on the top rack of a dishwasher to wash them.
  • Make sure to wash them with hot water.
  • Let it air dry in a clean area.
  • Store them in a clean and dry place while not using.
  • A few users found dishwasher may discolor the breast pump parts, but it won’t impact its functioning.

Note – One can find breast pump and accessory wipes, which let you clean them easily by wiping the parts with wipes or damp cloth.

Tips for Breast Pump Tubing:

Have a look at some of the tips which you have to follow to clean the breast pump.

  • Breast pump tubing won’t touch the milk if used correctly, and thus you should not clean it regularly.
  • It’s best to have a spare set of tubing to replace it you’re using when it gets damaged or spoiled.
  • If you find your pump tubing has any water droplets at the end of a pumping session, then disconnect the tubing from flange but not from the pump. Run the pump for a few minutes till the tubing is dry.
  • If you found the outside tubing soiled, then wipe it off with a disinfectant wipe or damp cloth.
  • If the tubing has mold or milk in it, then it is somewhat difficult to clean effectively, so throw it away. Replace it with new tubing.
  • It’s better to check whether the membranes/valves have to replace (or) if the tubing attached incorrectly to the pump before you need to change the tubing.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Shall I clean my breast pump parts before using it for the first time?

Yes, it is compulsory to wash and sanitize the breast pump parts and bottles before using them, especially for the first time. Also, you have to wash the breast pump parts and bottles after every use and sanitize it once after washing.

2. What parts of the breast pump should I clean?

In general, you have to rinse each and every part of the breast pump, which touches your breast/breast milk (like bottles, valves, breast shields, bottle lids, connectors and membranes) has to be cleaned thoroughly after each use. It will help you to avoid breast milk residue and thus prevent the growth of bacteria. Wash the tubing in case, if you observe any residue or condensation in it.

3. How often should we sterilize the breast pump?

Most experts recommend sterilizing the breast pump parts and accessories for once daily after they used and washed properly. For this, you have to separate all those parts which come in contact with milk and breast. You can follow either steaming or boiling those parts, bottle and basin to sterilize them.


Washing all of your breast pump parts and bottle is very much necessary while you’re pumping to get rid of germs, and microbes. We hope this article will help you know how to sterilize, and how often you need to sanitize them.

Still, having any queries regarding how to clean the breast pump? Then feel free to share with us in the below comments section.