Working moms who breastfeed have a pumping schedule that often requires them to pump milk several times a day. It also means cleaning the pump kit each time after use, which is inconvenient when you've got meetings, deadlines, and deliverables.
It's why a tip how to quickly clean your breast pump has gone viral. “Instead of washing your breast pump pieces every time you pump, put them in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator and wash them at the end of the day,” reports Annie Gabillet in an article for PopSugar.
Is it a good idea? A medical officer from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it is all right but there is a condition. “Although refrigerating used pump parts between uses might be okay if the pump kit is not contaminated,” Dr. Anna Bowen of CDC tells Parents. “Cleaning the pump kit after each use is safest and is particularly important for babies who are younger than two to three months old, were born prematurely, or have weakened immune systems.”
According to CDC guidelines, pump parts that come into contact with the breast and breast milk should be cleaned as soon as possible after pumping.
Molly Petersen, a certified lactation consultant, echoed Dr. Bowen’s advice. “Unfortunately, I wouldn't recommend it,” she told PopSugar pertaining to the tip mentioned above. “Because there are so many nooks and crannies in breast pump parts, they aren't as easy to clean as the bottles you may be using to store your milk. Therefore, I do recommend washing them as soon as possible after each pumping session.”
Bacteria can quickly grow in breast milk residue that gets left behind on pump parts. Using contaminated pump parts can cause serious infection in an infant especially one whose immune system is weak, such as a premature baby.
In 2016, a preemie contracted a Cronobacter sakazakii infection and died because of contaminated pump parts. An investigation revealed that the mom usually left the breast pump parts soaking in soapy water in the sink and rinse them some five hours later without scrubbing or sanitizing them.
For pump parts that come in contact with your breasts and breast milk, they should be cleaned after use. Here's how:
Place breast pump parts in a basin used only for cleaning the pump kit and infant feeding items.
Add soap and water, and then scrub items using a clean brush used only for cleaning infant feeding items.
Rinse the parts by holding them under running water or submerging them in fresh, clean water in a separate clean basin that's used only for infant feeding items.
Air-dry the breast pump parts thoroughly. Place them on a clean, unused dish towel or paper towel in an area free of dirt and dust. Don't use a dish towel to rub or pat items dry.
Make sure the parts are completely dry before you store them in an air-dried container.
Remember, pump kits also need to be sanitized at least once a day especially if your baby is below 3 months old or has a weakened immune system. As per the CDC, you can do this by placing the disassembled parts (that are safe to boil) into a pot with water. Place the pot over heat and boil for five minutes. Air dry after.
See the full updated cleaning guidelines for breast pump kits here.