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Cleaning expressing equipment

How to clean your pump parts and expressing containers.

Cleaning pump parts

If you are expressing for a healthy, term baby, you won't need to disinfect or sterilise your own expressing equipment.   

If your baby is sick or premature or if you have any type of infection on either of your breasts or nipples, follow the advice of your doctor or child health nurse about cleaning your equipment. 

You will need to clean equipment thoroughly at least once every 24 hours if you're expressing frequently. If you're only expressing once a day or less, clean equipment after each use. 

Expressing equipment includes:  

  • the milk collection parts of your hand pump, electric pump or milk catcher

  • all containers used to collect or store your breastmilk. 

There’s no need to clean sterile expressed breastmilk bags or new plastic bags. If you’re using an electric breast pump check the manufacturers guidelines for cleaning of the tubing (many manufacturers only suggest cleaning if tubing is damp or soiled). 

Steps for cleaning

  1. Wash your hands well with soap and water. Dry them on something clean — a new paper towel or a clean, unused cloth towel. 

  1. Take apart all containers and the breast pump so that every part can be cleaned well. 

  1. First, rinse everything in cold water to remove milk from all the parts. 

  1. Wash all parts with a small amount of dishwashing liquid and hot water. Take care to remove all traces of grease, milk and dirt. Use a brush kept just for this purpose. 

  1. Rinse at least twice in hot water. 

  1. Drain bottles and containers upside-down on clean paper towel or a clean cloth towel. Cover while they air dry. Before putting away, ensure no water droplets remain in the containers or on any parts. If any water remains, dry carefully. 

  1. Store the dry kit in a new plastic bag, plastic wrap, more paper towel or clean, covered container until next use. 

If you live in an area where you have different water supplies for drinking and washing, use drinking water to wash and rinse the pump equipment. 

Need to save time?

Cleaning expressing equipment takes time, so if you are expressing several times a day, here are a few time-saving tips: 

  • If you have a fridge, you can store unrinsed expressing equipment in there, in a clean, closed container or plastic bag. 

  • Rinse expressing equipment well in cold water after each use to remove the milk. Then store in a clean, closed container. 

  • If you don't have access to a fridge between expressing sessions, have extra pump parts and containers so you aren't always rinsing and washing.

© Australian Breastfeeding Association April 2022

Read more about expressing and storing

Evidence-led info and practical tips from our Breastfeeding Information Series

Breastfeeding: expressing and storing breastmilk

expressing booklet