Cleaning your breast pump equipment

Read our essential guide to cleaning and sanitising breast pump equipment to ensure your expressed breast milk is safe for your baby

Cleaning your breast pump equipment

When you can’t feed your baby directly, expressed breast milk is simply the best food to give to your baby. Learning when and how to clean and sanitise breast pump parts between uses is vital to ensure your milk is safe to drink. The good news is, if you master the basics of cleaning and sanitising your pumping equipment, your milk should be safe to keep in the fridge for up to five days or in the freezer for up to nine months – see our guide to storing, freezing and thawing breast milk for more advice.

Before you pump

All the parts of your breast pump that come into contact with your breasts or breast milk must be completely clean and dry (see below). But it’s not just your equipment that needs to be clean when expressing milk – so do you! Before every pumping session, remember to wash your hands thoroughly with soap for at least 20 seconds, then rinse them and dry with a clean towel. There’s no need to wash your breasts, unless they have cream or cosmetics on them that aren’t compatible with breastfeeding1 – if in doubt, check the packaging. Many lanolin-based nipple creams are fine to leave on while you express.

Tips for cleaning your breast pump equipment after use

After you’ve expressed, always wash any pumping equipment, such as bottles, valves and breast shields, that have touched your breasts or milk and then dry thoroughly so they’re ready for your next session.

  • First, rinse off your pumping equipment with drinking-quality water (at around 20 °C/68 °F), to remove any milk proteins left behind.
  • Then wash all parts with warm water (approximately 30 °C/86 °F) and washing-up liquid.
  • Rinse the parts again with drinking-quality water for 15 to 20 seconds.
  • Alternatively, you can wash the pump parts in the top rack of your dishwasher using your usual detergent. Smaller parts can be placed in the cutlery section. Make sure breast milk bottles, breast shields and teats are facing downwards.
  • Dry the equipment with a clean cloth or leave to air-dry on a clean tea towel.
  • Don’t forget to check your breast pump instruction manual for specific cleaning guidelines.

How to sanitise your breast pump equipment

At least once a day, you’ll need to sanitise your pumping parts after washing them. You’ll also need to do this if your breast pump equipment is brand new or hasn’t been used for a while.

Sanitising means that the equipment has been thoroughly cleaned of germs and bacteria. You may often hear people talking about ‘sterilising’ baby equipment or see products advertised as ‘sterilisers’, but sanitising is a more accurate term. It is impossible to completely sterilise equipment at home, even if you boil it, as our homes are not totally sterile environments. But sanitising ensures equipment is perfectly safe for you and your baby.

Every product is different, so make sure you follow the sanitising method recommended by the manufacturer of your pump set or feeding equipment. Medela recommends one of the following methods to sanitize pumping and feeding equipment:

  • Boil. Place your pump parts in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then keep boiling for at least five minutes, making sure all the parts stay submerged.
  • Other means to sanitise pumping and feeding equipment, such as microwave “sterilisers” or steamers may be effective, but have not been validated by Medela. Therefore, Medela cannot guarantee effective sanitisation nor exclude damage to pumping and feeding equipment, which is sanitised in this manner.

After sanitising

Once you’ve sanitised your breast pump equipment, allow to dry off thoroughly before use:

  • Remove the pump parts from the pan, sanitising bag or steriliser using clean hands or clean tongs. Be careful not to scald yourself!
  • Shake off any excess water, then dry with a clean cloth or allow to air-dry.
  • Place the parts on a sanitised surface or in a sanitised storage container.

Washing your pumping equipment after use, and sanitising it thoroughly at least once a day, will ensure your breast milk is safe to store for your baby.  


1 US Food & Drug Administration. Using a breast pump. [Internet]. Silver Spring, MD, USA: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2018 [updated 2018 Feb 04; cited 2018 Apr 12]. Available from: