Are you wondering, “How do you clean your breast pump supplies at work?” Well, that’s an excellent question!
There are many different solutions, and it kind of depends on your situation for pumping at work.
First of All, Let’s Get the “Duh” Factor Out of the Way
Make sure you know which parts of your breast pump need to be cleaned. The parts that touch you and/or your milk should be cleaned after each pumping session, so this usually means the breast shields, valves and membranes. The tubes connecting the breast shields to the motor usually don’t need to be cleaned unless milk has backed up into them (which is rare). NEVER submerge your breast pump motor in water, and follow the manufacturer’s manual to clean your breast pump.
Okay, on to the specifics!
Pumping Breast Milk in the Bathroom
If you’re pumping in a private bathroom (or even a semi-public restroom, if there aren’t too many people coming in and out regularly), you could fill up the sink with soap and water and clean your breast pump supplies right there. Fill up a travel-size squeeze bottle with dish soap from home and keep it in your breast pump bag, and just squirt a bit into a basin of warm water and dunk your supplies.
I’m a bit of a germ-a-phobe, especially when it comes to bathrooms other than my own, so if you’re going with this option, I would wipe down the sink first with a disinfectant wipe before filling it up with soap and water. (Just stock these in your bag as well.)
If possible, spread out a sheet or two of paper towel (or bring your own towel from home to save some paper) on the counter or some other nearby flat, clean surface (maybe use the disinfectant wipe here too). Then, after you’ve washed the breast pump parts in soapy water, rinse them with clear running water and set them on the towel to dry before putting them away.
No Sink Available – but There’s a Microwave Over There
If water cleaning isn’t possible but you have nearby access to a microwave, another great option is to use a steam cleaning bag – this is a plastic bag that is specially designed to clean your breast pump parts by adding in a little water and then microwaving it for a few minutes to steam-clean the parts. Make sure you check the microwave to see how powerful it is (how many watts it uses), as this will determine how long you need to microwave the bag.
This is another time that an extra breastmilk storage tube can come in handy – the bag usually calls for two ounces of water to be added in, and the tube holds up to three ounces, so it’s easy to measure out the water this way.
One tip with using a steam cleaning bag: Make sure you press the bag’s seal REALLY hard; otherwise, any gaps in the seal will prevent steam from forming and the parts won’t get cleaned.
No Water OR Microwave?
Where in the heck are you pumping? Just kidding! This is actually a problem for a lot of moms.
If you don’t have access to either a nearby sink or a microwave – or if you’re like me and didn’t want co-workers getting to the public microwave before I did and finding my bag of steam-cleaned breast pump parts – there’s another excellent option: Breast pump cleaning wipes. These look a lot like baby wipes, and work kind of like those no-water-required makeup remover towelettes. This is what I used every day, and it worked really well for me.
After pumping at my mini-lactation room I’d set up in my office and pouring my milk into a bottle, I’d disassemble my breast pump parts, wipe each one down really well with a wipe, and then re-assemble the parts so that I was ready to go for the next session. I’d also clean out the one milk storage tube I brought with me each day, and use just one wipe per session, using one end of the wipe for each side’s parts.
A word to the wise: If you go with the wipes option, I’d suggest also having a steam cleaning bag tucked in your breast pump bag as well. There are typically 30 wipes in a package, so depending on how often you’re pumping at work, these should last you around 1-2 weeks – but inevitably, with the crazy lives we all lead as working nursing mothers, you’re going to run out and forget to buy more, and the bag will save your behind (well, breasts, in this case).
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