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Can You Use Baby Wipes to Clean Pump Parts?

Can You Use Baby Wipes to Clean Pump Parts?
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If you are a new mom, you might be wondering if baby wipes can be used to clean pump parts. The short answer is no, they cannot be used to clean pump parts. However, there are a few other options to clean pump parts quickly.

Baby wipes are one of best inventions ever.  They are the jack of all trades of baby products.  They can clean anything. You can use it to clean a baby’s bottom, so it should be fine to use to clean other things for babies, right?

While baby wipes are amazing and can do so many things, they are not meant for cleaning a breast pump.  These wipes contain chemicals that are not safe for babies to ingest. Baby wipes are made for cleaning but not removing germs.

Breast pumps come in contact with milk and need to be thoroughly cleaned by something stronger than a baby wipe.

hand washing pump parts and baby bottle with brush over sink

As most pumping moms can attest to, pumping is hard work but worth it for the baby to drink the all-important breastmilk. 

One of the most tedious parts of pumping is cleaning the parts when you are done.  As a mom you are always looking for ways to make things easier while still staying safe.

Below are different options on how to clean breast pump parts and why certain products should not be used.

What Are Baby Wipes Used For?

Baby wipes are very convenient and are used by parents and nonparents alike. 

Their basic use is cleaning a baby during a diaper change, though they are also used for cleaning dirty hands after eating and wiping up spills. 

Due to their initial role of cleaning a baby during a diaper change, they are not meant to kill germs. 

They are made from cloth, which is then soaked in a solution that contains water, some kind of conditioner and sometimes preservatives. 

These cloths are meant to be gentle on a baby’s bottom.  They do not include disinfectants that are made to kill germs. 

Disinfecting wipes contain sodium hypochlorite and Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride which are found in common disinfectants.  Both of which you do not want on your baby’s bottom.

Since baby wipes do not kill germs, they are not a good choice when cleaning a breast pump where the purpose of cleaning it is to stop bacteria from growing.

Why Clean Pump Parts Properly?

There are a few reasons why it is so important to properly clean pump parts.

Bacteria can grow from milk being left on the parts between use and on the parts of the pump that are being put away while still wet. 

Rare illnesses can also occur. Cronobacter is one infection that can occur when pump parts are not cleaned effectively.

This infection can cause sepsis or meningitis. It is not very common but it can happen. Other infections can also occur from using contaminated pumps.

For the safety of the baby it is important to thoroughly clean all the pump parts that come in contact with the breast or milk.

How Often Should Pump Parts Be Cleaned

While it may seem tedious, breast pump parts should be cleaned after every use.  They should also be sanitized once a day. 

This is especially important for babies under 3 months, preemie babies, and babies that are immunocompromised. 

How To Clean A Pump Without Baby Wipes

After some tragedies involving infants and having the cause linked to unclean pump parts, the CDC felt the need to update cleaning regulations.

They felt that many women are not properly taught how to clean their pump, and they wanted to make the steps clear and really emphasize why they were important.

Materials needed:

  • Dish soap
  • Small basin
  • Running water or bottle of water
  • Dishwasher 
  • Paper towels
pump parts and baby bottles in wash basin in sink with scrub brush

Steps to Clean Pump Parts by Hand

First, clean your hands.

Next, remove all the pieces that come in contact with milk: bottles, lids, valves, membranes and connectors.

Then rinse off the pump parts in cool water and put in a basin. 

Do not place in the pump parts in the sink.  This is because germs can grow in sink drains and spread easily. Infections in hospitals have been tied to germs from sink drains.

Fill the basin with warm water and add dish soap. Thoroughly clean all the pump parts.  A bottle brush or soft cloth can be used.

Next, rinse off the pump parts with clean water.

Lay the parts out to dry on a paper towel.  Do not use a cloth towel as they can spread germs.

Allow the parts time to air dry. Do not put pump parts away until they are completely dry 

If water remains on the parts, bacteria can grow, no matter what piece of the pump it is.

Steps to Clean Pump Parts Using A Dishwasher

Another method you can use is to clean breast pump parts with a dishwasher.

One thing to be cautious of is the soap that you put into the dishwasher. It is best to use unscented soap so the scent does not transfer to the pump parts or into the pumped milk.

In order to clean the pump parts, first remove all the pieces that come in contact with milk: bottles, lids, valves, membranes and connectors.

If your pump parts are dishwasher safe (check your user manual!) then lay them on the top rack of the dishwasher. 

Small pieces can be put in a mesh bag or in a baby bottle cage for the dishwasher like this one (link to Amazon). 

When running the dishwasher, try to use hot water and a heated drying session.  

Once clean, let the parts dry completely before storing.

How to Sanitize Pump Parts

There are 2 ways to sanitize your pump parts.

One option is that you can sanitize them in boiling water.  You boil all the parts that can be boiled for 10min. Remove the parts with tongs and let them air dry.

The other option is to use a microwave steam bag.  The clean parts are placed inside the steam bag and follow the instructions on the bag for cleaning time (usually 3 minutes). 

Both are great options.

What If You Cannot Do All the Steps After Pumping?

While the many steps may seem very tedious and time consuming and may not be achievable in all places, it is important to try, as the health of your child is our top priority.

Below are a few cleaning hacks that you can do if you are not able to do the above cleaning procedure. 

My favorite hack is to bring several sets of pump parts to work. I usually brought 2 or 3 sets so I had a clean set for every pumping session.

Bring a Ziplock bag to store parts if they cannot be cleaned correctly.

Once dirty, I quickly rinsed the milk off the pump parts and then kept them in the bag until I could clean them correctly at home.

Use pump wipes.  These pump wipes are made specifically to clean pump parts.  They are not meant to consistently take the place of a proper cleaning, but they can be used in an emergency.  

Additional Questions

Can I store my pump parts uncleaned in the fridge between uses? 

This is a popular hack for working in moms, and in many cases, the cold refrigerator will stop bacteria growth on the pump parts.

Usually the pump parts are stored in the refrigerator in a clean ziplock bag. Milk is not rinsed off the parts in between pumping sessions.

However, this should only be used if the parent is not able to wash the pump parts.

Personally, I was only comfortable doing the “fridge hack” when my baby was over 6 months old. I would only keep pump parts in the refrigerator for a maximum of 4 hours.

This is because freshly pumped milk is considered safe for 4 hours out of the refrigerator.

This is an example of how my day would look like when using the “fridge hack”

Pump Session 1 at 9am

I would typically use the pump parts one time and then store them (without rinsing milk off) in a clean ziplock bag in the refrigerator.

Pump Session 2 at 12pm (noon)

When it was time to start my next pumping session 3 hours later, I would pull the pump parts out of the refrigerator and use them for that pumping session.

After the milk was stored in bottles, I would rinse the milk off the pump parts and store them to take them home.

Pump Session 3 at 3pm

I would use a fresh set of dry pump parts for my 3rd pumping session of the day.

Is it better to soak my pump parts before cleaning?

For some things, soaking can be beneficial, such as stain removal on clothes and burnt food on a pan, but with pump parts, soaking for a long time is not good. 

This is because bacteria can grow in the water and contaminate the parts. 

Pump parts should be placed in the water, soaked for 10 to 20 minutes, and then cleaned right away.

The Proper Way To Clean Pump Parts

Baby wipes should not be used to clean breast pump parts. Breast pump parts need to be sanitized very thoroughly, and baby wipes are meant to be soft and gentle on a baby’s bottom, not vigorous and sterilizing for pump parts.

As a parent, you will learn many hacks to make life easier. Sometimes they work and sometimes they do not. 

Moms have lots of hacks for cleaning breast pump parts that may work well for you, but the best hack is to follow the recommendations put out by the CDC. 

It may seem tedious, but it is better to have a clean pump than to risk infection.

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