It’s never easy to return to work after maternity leave. Not only is it hard to leave your infant behind, but a breastfeeding mom also has to plan through the logistics of pumping breast milk at work. For example, where you’re going to pump, how you’re going to store your breast milk, and how you should be cleaning breast pump parts at work.
Even when at work, it’s important to safely clean your breast pump accessories according to the recommendations and guidance set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Germs and harmful bacteria can quickly grow on breast pump parts, exposing your child to the risk of infection if not properly cleaned.
*This post contains affiliate links.
I remember my first time returning to work after being out on maternity leave with my first. I brought everything I thought I needed to work to successfully pump except- cleaning supplies! Thankfully, I was able to use dishwashing soap, warm water, and paper towels that was available in the kitchen for that day. Eventually, I figured out exactly what I needed to be able to clean my pump parts at work safely and become more efficient at it. Read on below to learn about 3 methods you can use at work for safely cleaning your breast pump parts.
And don’t forget to grab your FREE guide on How to Plan a Stress-Free Week without Burnout, which includes my top hacks and an editable weekly planner to help busy, working moms achieve a calmer, more productive week!
Cleaning Breast Pump Parts at Work- 3 Easy Ways!
Here are 3 different ways new moms can clean pump parts at work, whether you use an electric breast pump or manual pump:
1: Soap and Water [Recommended]
According to the CDC guidelines (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the most recommended and best way to clean your breast pump kit is to use soap and water.
Here are the steps I used:
- Ensure your office or work space has access to a kitchen sink.
- You’ll need a clean wash basin to avoid placing pump parts directly in the sink and risk contamination with food or other residue. You’ll also need liquid dishwashing soap, bottle brushes (including a small one for small spaces), hot water, and paper towels or a clean unused dish towel.
- Ensure your bottle brush and basin is used EXCLUSIVELY for washing your pump parts or baby bottles.
- Wipe down the area around the sink with disinfectant wipes.
- Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly before handling the pump parts.
- Immediately after each pumping session, disassemble all your breast pump parts (including small membranes) and place them in the wash basin.
- Lay the clean paper towels or towel next to the sink to be able to quickly lay pump parts there after washing.
- Add dishwashing soap and hot water to the wash basin.
- Scrub the pump parts with a bottle brush in the hot soapy water, using the smaller bottle brush to get into any hard-to-clean nooks and small spaces. Ensure you are following the breast pump manufacturers instruction manual for cleaning your pump parts.
- Rinse each item under running water, and lay on the towels next to the sink.
- You can leave the parts on the towel to air dry. You can also rinse and dry the wash basin, place your pump parts back in the basin and return to your desk to air dry in an area free from dirt and dust until your next pumping session.
- According to the CDC, the best practice is to allow the pump parts enough time to completely air dry to help prevent germs and mold from growing.
- Store dry pump parts in a clean, tightly sealed and unused ziplock bag.
2: Use a dishwasher.
If you’re one of the lucky ones that has access to a dishwasher at work, it’s perfectly acceptable to wash your pump parts in there. Read the pump manufacturer’s instruction manual to ensure that all of the pump parts are dishwasher safe.
Here are some general guidelines for using the dishwasher to clean your pump parts:
- Disassemble the pump parts.
- Arrange in the top rack of the dishwasher. For smaller pieces, I recommend using a dishwasher basket or bag to keep everything in place.
- Select a hot water setting to better sanitize the pump parts.
- Before removing the pump parts from the dishwasher, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- If the pump parts are not completely dry, lay them out on a paper towel on a clean surface to air dry.
3: Bring another set of pump part kits to work and disinfect until you get home
It’s a good idea to stick to the CDC guidelines as closely as possible, especially if you have a preemie or baby with a weakened immune system. However, the truth and reality is it’s not always possible at work to hand wash or use a dishwasher after every pumping session. Perhaps you don’t have access to a sink because you’re on-the-go.
The only other safe option is to bring multiple pump part kits to work if you can afford it and use a clean set for each pumping session. After each pumping session, wipe down your used pump parts quickly using a disinfectant wipe specifically made for cleaning pump parts and infant feeding items (my favorites are these plant-based wipes). Note that quick clean wipes can’t reach all surfaces, so this is just a temporary solution until the first opportunity you have to properly wash your pump parts.
Make sure your hands are clean and you wipe off all of the milk residue with the wipes. Then air dry if possible on a clean paper towel in a dirt and dust -free area or place pump parts in a tightly sealed ziplock bag. You can also use Medela quick clean micro-steam bags at the end of the day to quickly sanitize your pump parts in the microwave before bringing them back home.
Once home, wash ALL of the pump parts you used that day by safely hand-washing or adding to dishwasher.
Is the “fridge hack” for pumping safe?
In the past, it was acceptable to stash your pump parts in a ziplock in the refrigerator in between pumping sessions to avoid constantly cleaning the pump parts (the “fridge hack”). This method was especially useful for multiple night feedings.
Although it might be tempting to reuse unwashed pump parts from a prior pumping session, DON’T DO IT. That method is no longer recommended by the CDC after a preemie died from being infected with deadly bacteria from improperly cleaned breast pump parts. The convenience and amount of time you save with the fridge hack is simply not worth the risk!
Pumping at work is not easy and you have to allot extra time after each pumping session to clean your pump parts. Thankfully, over time you can become efficient at it and clean all your pump parts in less than 5 minutes.
At the end of the day, pat yourself on the back for doing an amazing job! You’re doing everything you can while at work to keep up your milk supply to feed your baby- and that’s an honorable thing.
If you found this helpful, Pin and share with a friend!
For more breastfeeding resources, check out these helpful posts:
- How to Keep Breast Milk Frozen While Traveling: The Ultimate Guide
- Elvie vs Willow: Best Wearable Breast Pump in 2022
- 9 Best Breastfeeding Chairs for Your Nursery in 2022