Skip to Content

Can You Sterilize Breast Pump Parts In A Bottle Sterilizer or Dishwasher?

Can You Sterilize Breast Pump Parts In A Bottle Sterilizer or Dishwasher?
This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive commissions for purchases made through links on this post (at no extra cost to you).

If you recently started pumping, you might be wondering if you can sterilize breast pump parts in a bottle sterilizer or dishwasher. With a new baby, you are looking for every time-saving hack that can make your day a little easier.

Keeping breast pump parts clean and sterilized is an important part of the pumping process and keeping your baby healthy.

But – there’s no getting around it – cleaning and sterilizing is a real pain, especially when you’re sleep-deprived and trying to keep up with normal life while caring for a newborn. That’s where bottle sterilizers and dishwashers come in.

Some brands of breast pump parts can be carefully cleaned in a bottle sterilizer and dishwasher. For example, Medela and Spectra parts can go into a sterilizer or dishwasher but Willow and Elvie parts should not go into the sterilizer or dishwasher. Check with your pump manual, as not all breast pumps are designed to be placed in a dishwasher. 

If you’re convinced that you need to try one of these easy sterilization methods, you need to keep reading.

I go into further detail below on which is the fastest method to wash and sterilize, and how to sterilize your breast pump parts in an electronic bottle sterilizer, a microwave sterilizer, and a dishwasher so you don’t ruin your pump parts.

Sterilizing Breast Pump Parts in an Electric Bottle Sterilizer

A bottle sterilizer can be a convenient way to sterilize breast pump parts. Basically, you just have to clean the breast pump parts, load them into the sterilizer, and operate it as you normally would for bottles.

This electric bottle sterilizer is my favorite one to use with my Spectra pump parts (link to Amazon). It is really convenient to have the sterilizer and dryer function all-in-one.

Every sterilizer will function a little differently, so you should always check with the instructions that come with it.

Here are the step-by-step instructions on using a bottle sterilizer that should apply to most models.

Steps to Use An Electric Bottle Sterilizer to Clean Pump Parts

Throughout the process, be sure that you handle your parts with clean, freshly washed hands.

Clean parts in soapy water using a designated pump parts brush or sponge. Rinse thoroughly. This step is important because an electronic sterilizer does not clean the parts. It only sterilizes them.

Place the sterilizer on a level surface and out of the reach of children. At this point, it should not be plugged in.

Add the appropriate amount of water in the appropriate location. (The amount and location will depend on the sterilizer you own.)

Load the sterilizer. There is usually an area for smaller parts and an area for larger parts. It is best to place items into the sterilizer in a way that limits the amount of water that collects in them. For example, you should place the valves open side down.

Place any baskets in the sterilizer and close it.

Plug the sterilizer in.

Start the sterilizer and allow it to run through its cycle.

Once the sterilizer has finished the sterilizing process, allow the parts to sit for at least 5 minutes. This gives them a chance to cool and prevents you from burning your fingers.

Lift the lid away from you, just like you would with a pot of boiling water, so that the escaping steam does not burn you.

This process may sound like it takes a long time, but generally, you’re only busy with it for about 5-10 minutes.

The longest part of the process doesn’t require you at all. It is waiting for the sterilizer to run through its cycle and letting the parts cool down enough to handle.

Sterilizing Breast Pump Parts in a Microwave Sterilizer

Microwave sterilizers are essentially just a container or bag that you put your pump parts into, and that traps the steam so it can sterilize.

They are less expensive than electric sterilizers and won’t add to your collection of kitchen gadgetry, a real plus if you don’t have a ton of counter space.

Using a microwave sterilizer is similar to using an electric sterilizer. You won’t be plugging it in, though. Instead, you place it in your microwave. 

Here are the steps to using a microwave sterilizer to give you an idea of what to expect.

How To Sterilize Pump Parts in A Microwave Sterilizer

Throughout the process, be sure that you handle your parts with clean, freshly washed hands.

Clean parts in soapy water using a designated pump parts brush or sponge. Rinse thoroughly. Again, this step is important because a microwave sterilizer does not clean the parts. It only sterilizes them.

Open the sterilizer and remove the rack (if there is one).

Place the appropriate amount of water in the base of the sterilizer.

Replace the rack.

Place the breast pump parts into the sterilizer. Be sure to place them open side down so that water does not collect in them.

Place the lid back on the sterilizer and place the entire thing in your microwave.

Set your microwave to the appropriate time (check your manual). It usually takes between 2 and 6 minutes of microwaving and another 2 minutes of cooling time.

Remove the sterilizer from the microwave. There is no need to open until you’re ready to use the parts. They will stay sterile for up to 24 hours if the container is not opened.

When you remove the lid, point it away from you so that the steam escapes away from your hands and face.

The microwave sterilizer is an inexpensive way to ensure your breast pump parts are sterilized and stay sterile until you’re ready to use them.

If you’re on the go, Medela makes Micro-Steam Bags that work in much the same way as the microwave sterilizer.

I used the microwave steam bags when at work because we had a microwave available in the break room. I also used them while traveling because the hotel rooms usually came with a microwave.

Sterilizing Breast Pump Parts in the Dishwasher

I love using the dishwasher to sterilize pump parts because you don’t need to wash the parts first.

The problem with electronic and microwave sterilizers is that they only handle sterilization, so you still need to handle the time-consuming cleaning part of the process.

By using your dishwasher, you can clean and sterilize all at once and save you some precious time.

Before washing and sterilizing your pump parts in the dishwasher, you should check with your pump manual.

Some pump parts, like Elvie pump parts, are not dishwasher friendly. In addition, you have to make sure that your dishwasher has a sanitize setting.

How To Use A Dishwasher To Clean and Sanitize Breast Pump Parts

Throughout the process, be sure that you handle your parts with clean, freshly washed hands.

I prefer to rinse the pump parts immediately after using them. This helps to ensure that the milk doesn’t dry on the pump parts, getting stuck in some of the small crevices.

Place breast pump parts in the top rack of your dishwasher with the open sides down. You may want to use a basket like this to keep track and protect smaller parts like valves.

Place a dishwashing soap in your dishwasher. It is best to use a baby-friendly dishwasher soap as they tend to be gentler with fewer unnecessary chemicals.

Run your dishwasher through a wash cycle.

Use the sanitize setting on your dishwasher or something similar.

Avoid a heated dry cycle as the temperatures your dishwasher reaches are needlessly high and would cause pointless wear and tear on your equipment.

That’s it!

You might get some discoloration on the breast pump pieces, but this is normal and should not impact the functioning of the pump pieces.

I definitely recommend running the cycle with only pump parts other baby items to avoid food particles getting on the items.

Which Sanitizing Method is the Best for Breast Pump Parts?

If you have a dishwasher with a sanitize setting, then this method is the best.

The biggest drawback of using the dishwasher is that it may cause your parts to wear out a little more quickly.

This is because of the heat of the water and the jets in your dishwasher, but it is such a huge timesaver, and when you have a little baby in your home, time is everything.

If you don’t have a dishwasher with a sanitize setting, then the electronic or microwave sanitizers are great. 

You only need to sanitize pump parts until your baby is three months old unless your baby was premature or has a compromised immune system, according to the CDC.

I also think investing in this electronic sanitizer is a smart move (link to Amazon). For me, it was really worth it because my countertops were not covered in pump parts and baby bottles that were air drying.

cleaning baby bottles in the sink, open dishwasher, and bowl of bottles soaking in sink

Sharing is caring!