CDC Releases New Guidelines on Cleaning Breast Pumps

If you’re a mom who breastfeeds and uses a pump for pumping milk, you know how much of a pain it is to clean the whole kit. Turns out a low milk supply isn’t the only thing to worry about when it comes to pumping. But if you slack off on cleaning your breast pump appropriately, there could be tragic consequences. A premature infant recently contracted the rare but serious Cronobacter infection and the situation prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue new cleaning guidelines that teach moms how to care for the pump parts. The guidelines walk moms through exactly what they should do and how often.

New Guidelines Say Parts Should Be Cleaned After Each Use

Yes, it’s time-consuming, but the CDC guidelines state that breast pump parts should be cleaned after each use. In addition, you should wash your hands before handling the parts or any pumped milk, and have a dedicated brush and wash basin that’s only used for the pump parts. Let them air dry when you’re done. For extra cleanliness boil or steam the parts to sanitize (or run them through a dishwasher set on sanitize). The mom whose premature infant contracted the infection reportedly left her pump soaking in soapy water and didn’t return to rinse them off until hours later. This left the parts sitting in water that was a breeding ground for germs. Samples of bacteria from the home were found on the pump parts, sink and in milk that had been pumped there.

Are these pump cleaning hacks even safe?

Some moms have learned that rather than clean pumps after every use, they can just store the parts in the refrigerator. While it might be ok to store parts in the fridge in between uses if the kit isn’t contaminated, cleaning it each time is still recommended for the safety of your baby. And what about quick-use wipes, do these work for moms who work and may not have access to a clean sink for washing pump parts? The CDC says wipes cannot reach all parts of the pump and therefore cleaning by hand or using a dishwasher is your safest bet. If you can’t do that, consider having duplicate parts you can swap out until you get home to clean.

The CDC guidelines say these tips are the best way to clean pump parts

  • Wash your hands before using your pump, and use disinfectant wipes to clean the outside of your pump.
  • After every use, take apart the pump parts and rinse them under running water. Don’t put them directly in the sink!
  • Clean your pump parts as soon as possible with hot, soapy water in a wash basin and brush used only for cleaning pump parts, or in the dishwasher.
  • Rinse in fresh water (don’t put them back in the same basin).
  • Air dry on a clean dish towel, but don’t rub the parts with the towel as this could spread germs.
  • Rinse your basin and brush, and leave them to air dry. Clean them as well at least every few days.
  • If you’re using the dishwasher, place on a hot water and heated drying cycle, or a sanitize cycle. Wash your hands before taking out the parts, and allow them to air dry.
  • Store items in a clean, protected area only after they’re completely dry.

While the infection that was contracted from unsanitized pump parts is unusual for babies to contract, keeping everything as clean as possible is a good way to keep germs at bay. Because the last thing you need is a sick baby.

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