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How To Clean Breast Pump Tubing

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If you are a mom or mom to be the question of how to feed your baby would have crept up by now! Do I breastfeed? Do I bottle feed? Can I combination feed? 

The list of options is endless and one topic I found myself looking into the most is “How to express feed?” If you have decided to go down this road then you will require a breast pump and with that comes questions like how to clean breast pump tubing?

When breastfeeding you will of course get more bonding time with your little one but don’t be fooled it can also be extremely tiring as well! It is at this point that expressing your milk and letting someone else take the strain for a little while will give you some time to rest.

What Is Express Feeding?

Now initially when you express your milk, you can use your hand or an electric/manual breast pump. Expressing your milk mimics the suction technique the baby would be doing when breastfeeding alone.

It gathers your liquid gold (otherwise known as breast milk) for a feed that can be given later on or straight away.

The beauty of this is you can store your milk in the fridge or freezer – handy tip: always date and time your milk bags so you can keep on top of how fresh each batch is.

The benefit of this is that other family members can help with feeding the baby, especially at night time!  On the other hand, it does mean that you have to sacrifice some time to pump and sanitize.

The Hygiene Part

With anything you give your child you are meticulous at ensuring you keep germs and other nasty bacteria away from your baby. You essentially become a sterile queen! No germ is getting through with your rigorous cleaning routine! Unfortunately no matter how clean we are germs and bacteria can still linger!

It is paramount that you adopt a good cleaning routine after pumping or you could be faced with a horrific moldy mess on your hands or worse a sick child!

You are a dab hand at sterilizing pacifiers, teething toys, and pretty much anything you put near your baby, the same needs to be done with your breast pump. 

Before using your pump, if it is for the first time or even if it has been sitting for a while it is imperative that you sanitize properly before pumping.

How To Wean Off Pumping Breast Milk: In 8 Easy Steps

Sanitizing Steps

Whenever you prepare food you always wash your hands right? Well, the same goes before you start pumping! You are handling your baby’s food and therefore good handwashing will help get rid of excess germs that may linger.

But making sure you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds will ensure your hands will be sparkly clean! 

What About Cleaning My Pump?

There is a vast range of breast pumps available from manual to electric, from single to double pumps. But one thing many of these products have in common is they can be notoriously difficult to clean and sterilize.

Here are some tips on how to keep yours germ-free and in perfect working order.

Dishwashing magic

Many pumps come with all sorts of gizmos and gadgets that are needed for a successful pumping session. It is vital that each of these parts is washed and cleaned after every use. 

Many moms have reported that their pumps were fine in the dishwasher, if this is something that could benefit you, then you should refer to your pump’s manual to ensure all parts are dishwasher safe or you could be faced with a melted mess!

If your pump is dishwasher safe then all you need to do is take apart every section, making sure that the tubing is free from any twists and kinks, and allow the dishwasher to do the hard part!

Now, this may sound like the perfect solution to your cleaning needs but it is not always practical to put the dishwasher on after every pumping session. So you may want to explore other options to clean your pump and its tubing.

The sink is safe

Not everyone has a dishwasher and if this is you don’t panic! You don’t need to add a dishwasher to your baby registry.

All you need to do is rinse the tubing first then fill the sink up with warm soapy water and ensure the tubing from the pump is fully submerged. Leave it to soak for about 10 minutes then rinse again. The tubing then needs to be left to air dry completely before the next use.

Sanitizing on the go

I loved sanitizing wipes when I had my daughter, from wiping down tables in diners to giving a dropped pacifier the once over you feel unstoppable when armed with these handy rascals. 

If you find you need to pump when you are out of the house then giving your pump a clean with these wipes will help keep the outer parts clean, but make sure you wash your pump and tubing properly when you get home.

spectra-s1-vs-s2

Boiling method

Another way to ensure a good cleaning would be to fill a pan of boiling water (again check your pump can handle this heat). Rinse the pump parts and place them in the water to boil for 10 minutes.

Germs and bacteria cannot survive in extreme heat so this method may be perfect for you. Just watch out for any nasty burns when getting the parts out.

Sterilize to sanitize

One item you may have on your registry is a sterilizer. Now, this handy piece of equipment saved my anxiety when it came to cleaning different items for my children and the great news is you can also sterilize your pump in them!

Amazing right?! If you are using a microwave sterilizer then you can allow the steam to naturally kill any nasty germs but if you have a liquid sterilizer you may find that the pump will have to be left overnight.

I Can’t Clean The Tubes Properly

We have given you a few great ideas of how to sanitize your pump but are you looking at the tubing thinking I need to get in there to scrub them? Yea, you wouldn’t be the first or the last mom to think the tubes need a good clean! After all, nobody wants dirty tubing. 

 

The tubing of the pump is the brain of the whole operation. They are the liquid carriers to ensure the safe collection of your liquid gold each and every time you use your pump. With this in mind, it is ESSENTIAL that the tubing is kept in good clean condition at all times.

Using any of the above methods will ensure that your tubes are cleaned thoroughly. 

Making sure you rinse after every use is important and many manufacturers only recommend using cold or soapy water to clean them, you may want to check the instructions that came with your pump for the best way to clean the tubing before boiling it, burnt tubes are no good to anyone.  

Also, ensure that they are put out to dry completely or you will find that they may become moldy in spots.  If you find this happens just ensure the tubes are thrown away and use new ones. 

How Do I Dry The Tubing To Prevent Mold?

The best way to dry the tubing is to hang them up and let them air dry, but many moms connect it up to the pump and allow it to run for 5 minutes. If you notice water droplets are still there then swinging or twirling the tubes around will help force the droplets out. 

Water spots can be annoying and if they appear then it could indicate a moisture build-up. Try using a syringe of vinegar through the tubing and follow the drying process again. Vinegar can help eradicate the pesky watermarks on the inside of the tube. 

The best option is to have a spare set of tubes that you can use whilst the other set is drying.

How Do You Clean Different Types Of Breast Pumps?

There is quite a range of different breast pumps available on the market and although many have the same basic design and parts they often have very different cleaning requirements. Here are a few of the different makes and how best to clean them:

Elvie

 

Spectra

 

Medela Pump in Style

 

FAQs

What happens if milk gets into breast pump tubing?

Anytime that moisture of any kind gets into your breast pump tubing it does put your motor at risk. The moisture can be sucked into the pump causing damage.

The best way to ensure that your pumped breast milk is clean and safe to give to your baby is to ensure that all parts are clean and sterile before each use.

Can you clean Medela tubing?

First, you would need to turn off your breast pump and remove it from the power source. Next, remove the tubing but do not wiggle or pull the tubing at an angle.

Then rinse the tubing in cool water to remove any breast milk residue that may be present, then wash the tubing in warm soapy water, rinse in cool water and hang to air dry thoroughly.

Is it ok to just rinse pump parts?

You need to think of your milk and pump as well as all its parts in the same way that you would any other kind of food product. You wouldn’t just rinse a plate under running water as it would not be clean and the same goes for your pump.

You can rinse off your pump parts after your pumping session but this does not replace a proper clean and sanitize of it.

The Final Thought

In hindsight, every mom wants to ensure that they are doing their best to keep their baby happy and healthy.

By choosing to express and bottle feed you are already on the path to success and using the handy tips mentioned above will allow you to ease into your new routine without any concerns about washing your breast pump.

Just remember:

  • Sanitizing is a must!
  • The tubing needs to be washed and dried.
  • If you notice any mold then bin and use new.
  • Always refer to the handbook of your pump before cleaning.

Hi, I'm Emma and I'm a mother to 5 beautiful children aged from 1 to 21 years old- life is hectic! I have learned so much along the way, not only from my own children but also through my professional life. In my positions as a Childminder and Teaching Assistant, I have studied Child Development and The Early Years Developing Practice. I wish to share all of this knowledge and help you with your own parenting journey!