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pump washing tips for a bit of a slacker

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

Looking for some tips from fellow pumping mamas.  I am a high school teacher and mama to a 6 month old and 4 year old.  I pump 2x a day at work and usually once in the morning before I leave.  I don't have access to a private fridge, so I bring 2 sets of horns etc. in a clean ziploc and toss the used ones in a separate ziploc.  I wait and wash everything once I get home.  When I get home,  I dump it all in a large bowl of hot soapy water to soak.  I wash and rinse it all once I get everyone to sleep about 3-4 hours later. 


A few q's:


1) Is it a total bacteria hazard to leave the dirty ones in a plastic bag while I'm at work?


2) Is it bad to leave everything soaking in soap & water once I get home?  Also, is soap & water enough or do I need to be sterilizing?


3) I've heard that this stuff (minus the membranes) can be washed in the dishwasher.  If you do this, can you tell me what kind of basket you have?  I ordered one and it is way too small for the horns.


This system works for me, but I worry that I'm cutting too many corners and that my lack of germaphobe tendencies are going to catch up with me.  Looking forward to hear how others do it. I would consider buying a mini fridge if it would make life easier/safer.  Thanks




post #2 of 26

I don't know if it's a bacteria breeding ground, but when my DS was in the NICU, the nurses recommended I keep a cooler next to my bed to store the pump parts in the middle of the night.  You could try that during that day instead of buying a mini-fridge.


I always just used the Medela steam bags to sanitize everything, including the membranes.  You pop everything in the microwave for 3 or 5 minutes with a little bit of water and it's all sanitized.

post #3 of 26
I put mine in the top rack of the dishwasher and i haven't had any problems..in fact i didn't realize the membranes shouldn't go in.
I think you are totally fine doing what you are doing, but if it would make u feel better, than a cooler bag would be a good idea.
post #4 of 26
Originally Posted by tincia View Post

I put mine in the top rack of the dishwasher and i haven't had any problems..in fact i didn't realize the membranes shouldn't go in.
I think you are totally fine doing what you are doing, but if it would make u feel better, than a cooler bag would be a good idea.

I do this exactly!

post #5 of 26

Medela makes special wipes for pumping on the go. They sanitize so you can just wipe them down and use them again.



post #6 of 26
I like the wipes. They made pumping at work a lot easier, since I didn't need to go to a sink and wash each individual part.
post #7 of 26
Originally Posted by cameragirl View Post

I like the wipes. They made pumping at work a lot easier, since I didn't need to go to a sink and wash each individual part.

I don't even work and I want some of these wipes :lol

post #8 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone!  I am trying to avoid generating extra plastic waste, so I'd been avoiding the wipes but I may give them a try.


For the dishwasher folks, do you put everything in a compartment or something in the dishwasher?  If so, please tell me what you use.  I feel like the dishwasher has the power to change my life!

post #9 of 26

i do put the flairs in the dishwasher, i just take  flairs off and slip each part over a prong on the top shelf and then flip down a cover section i think my dishwasher has for knives? that stops them from getting knocked around by the water jets


i also drop the smaller parts in my bottle heater and set it to 6 min, that is more normal for me, i figure these smaller parts need the help getting cleaned more than the flairs do.

post #10 of 26
I always used the same set of pump parts at work all day without washing or refrigerating them between uses. I figure if BM is OK at room temp for hours, why not the parts? In fact, when I was trying to increase supply, my LC suggested just leaving the assembled pump out on the kitchen counter during the day and pumping whenever I walked past it.
post #11 of 26

I refrigerate the parts during the day, wash them in the dishwasher in one of those bottle-parts baskets in the evenings. Rinsing them after every use makes my pump break so much longer- it wasn't worth it. 

post #12 of 26

bag.gif  ok.. maybe this is not something i should share.  however, i worked ft and pumped with dd1.  i pumped from when i went back to work till 13 mos, so 10 mos total.  at first i was taking everything to the sink in a plastic bag and washing each time with dr bronnors baby soap (very very diluted) but then after the first month, i was busy.  and lazy.  so i put everthing back into the cooler without rinsing or anything else, just wiping with a paper towel (or when i was semi-organized i would take a ziploc with a wet washcloth for that purpose) and storing it in the little portable cooler.  so for around 8 months, i didn't wash anything (just wiped) and pumped 3 x a day.  my logic was that breastmilk can sit out for a while without being damaged.

i would put the horns in the glassware part of the dishwasher every night and the small bits in the silverware basket.  washed the membranes by hand and only ever washed the tubes once when they got really condensation-y. 

nothing bad ever happened due to my lack of washing.  not that i endorse it, just thought people might be curious.

post #13 of 26

I use my plastic baby item basket for the dishwasher:
 have a different one but it looks like he one in the middle of the photo however it's pink and white. 
I can put the little yellow bits that the membrane attaches to in the top and the flanges I put in the top rack where the cups go. I put the bottles over the "spokes" that hold the cups in place and they wash just fine. 
I'm bad though and just rinse my parts in hot water most of the time and wash by hand or in the dishwasher every few days. :P 

post #14 of 26
You actually are fine with leaving them at room temp for 8 hours, though I'd probably keep them in a bag or container to prevent contamination from other sources. If you keep them in your cooler bag, or in the fridge, you are safe for a little longer.

Another tip - putting your freshly pumped milk in the staff fridge with your lunch pretty much guarantees that nobody will steal your lunch. (Especially if you work with a lot of men!). thumb.gif
post #15 of 26

Keep in mind that your breastmilk has white blood cells.  Milk that's left at room temp for 8 hours actually has lower bacterial counts than when first left to stand!  So, first, what you're doing is probably fine (leaving them in the plastic bags and bringing two sets). The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding says you can just pop your horns along with the pumped milk in the fridge (or your horns in a cooler as a PP has said) rather than bringing two sets, which halves the dishes you do.  Ina May, in her guide to breastfeeding, says you can just leave everything at room temp all day and keep pumping with the same set.  So it depends on your comfort level. I go with the Ina May thing and just leave everything assembled in a desk drawer... I find I pump more that way (like, I actually just impulsevly do an extra session... and I HATE pumping).  After the last pumping I shove everything in the office fridge (you could use your cooler).


I would wash them in warm water when you get home (soaking with soapy water should be fine).  I sanitize once a day using the Medela bags -- you can reuse them 20 times, so it's not like you waste a lot of plastic or money that way, and it'll bring your bacterial count down to zero at least once a day, which might give you peace of mind.  Completely off topic, but the one serious expense I had with the Medela bags was when my microwave became posessed and sat with 1 second on the clock continuously microwaving for over 20 minutes... everything was melted.  So, keep an eye on your microwave... totally not the fault of the bags, though!





post #16 of 26

i feel so relieved.  i will let the horns lie casually about with much less guilt when i return to work in April after this babe arrives....

post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 

oh the dishwasher changed my life yesterday.  No more handwashing!  Thanks everyone!

post #18 of 26

i work 12 hour shifts and get 2 breaks during the day.  15 minutes in the AM and 30 for lunch.  I have to eat and pump during this time so my pumping needs to be quick. 


I pump and then rinse everything in hot water real quick and dry it a little with a paper towel.  and put it back in my bag.  At night ideally I take all the parts apart and put them in the dishwasher.  I put the yellow parts in that target basket that a pp mentioned.  and just stick the flange parts in the top rack.  There have been nights where I do not get to do this and the rinse and wipe down after use has to do. 

post #19 of 26

No one is worried about putting plastic parts into the dishwasher? I know Medela products are all BPA free, but what about phthalates and other plasticizers? Toxins in plastics are more likely to leach out at higher temperatures, so maybe if you can do a cold/warm water wash instead of a piping hot wash? I know with my washer, if I open it up right after it's done running, it's hot and steamy in there. Anyway, that's just my two cents. I have put my parts in the dishwasher before, but once I started thinking more about it, I decided just to handwash.


Also, I do sometimes put the shields/phalanges, etc into the fridge for a day if I know I'm going to pump again later.

post #20 of 26

I put the horns in a ziploc after my first pumping of the day and stash them in the fridge with the milk. Then I use them at the second pumping, and then wash when I get home. I am probably not as scrupulous about germs as I could be, but OTOH, if I had to wash pump parts at each pumping I probably wouldn't be able to pump at work at all. Sources say this approach is okay so I'm not too stressed about it. I do put the horns in the dishwasher along with all hard plastic parts from the bottles, and hand-wash the membranes, valves, bottle nips, and the little rubber bottle parts (we use Dr Browns bottles).


As for putting plastic in the dishwasher, doesn't plastic need to be sterilized every so often? I was under the impression the dishwasher did that. The drawbacks of never sterilizing seem to outweigh any potential drawbacks of leaching.

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