Learn how to clean your Medela breast pump in nine simple steps.

breast pump
Credit: Kathryn Gamble

Cleaning the Medela breast pump is simple, and the process will quickly become a part of your pumping routine.

"Mothers first have to have a respect for the kit that they're using," says Irene Zoppi, a clinical education specialist with Medela, a registered nurse, and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). "The kit they're using collects the breast milk. So that kit needs to be washed."

As with all breast pumps, every part of the Medela pump that touched the breast or milk should be washed in warm water with a gentle soap after each use. In addition, Zoppi recommends sanitizing the kit once a day either in the dishwasher or with special sanitizing products from Medela. She says Medela strives to make breastfeeding more convenient for busy moms through products such as the new Quick Clean Micro Steam Bags, which allow moms to disinfect breast shields and other accessories in minutes using a microwave.

"If a mother believes that her life will be made simpler by using products like this, perhaps she'll breastfeed for a month longer, perhaps she'll breastfeed two months longer," Zoppi says. "So for a mother who is working full time and trying to pump milk for her baby and manage everything she's managing, steps like this make a difference in helping her continue pumping."

Moms should note that although Medela and other breast pump makers recommend regular sterilization of the pump parts, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that sterilization is not necessary. Warm, soapy water is adequate for at-home cleaning.

Zoppi shares the following steps to help moms clean their Medela breast pumps.

  1. When you're finished pumping, disconnect the tubing from the back of the breast shields.
  2. While you're capping and storing the milk, leave the pump running for two to three minutes. This will help dry any condensation that remains in the machine.
  3. Turn the machine off.
  4. Disassemble every piece of the kit, separating the breast shields from the connectors, twisting the yellow valves from the breast shield connectors, and removing the white membranes from the yellow valves.
  5. Rinse all of the parts in cool water to remove any breast milk.
  6. Wash each part in hot, soapy water. You can use dish detergent or a more specialized product, such as Medela's Quick Clean breast milk removal soap, a no-scrub formula that can remove breast milk residue of up to three days.
  7. Allow all parts to air-dry before storing.
  8. Reassemble for next use.
  9. Optional: sanitize all parts once a day by boiling them on the stove, placing them in the dishwasher or using a specialized product, such as Medela's Quick Clean Micro Steam Bags.

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