11 April 2007

Wash breast pump parts in the dishwasher

I've mentioned before the calm that comes with starting the day with an empty dishwasher. What I didn't mention was that I grew up in a conservationist household, where we only ran the dishwasher every 2-3 nights or so. I had to give myself mental permission to run the dishwasher every night; that, for a short period of my life at least, starting every day with enough sippy cups and cereal spoons was worth some extra water usage. Karen agrees, specifically because she can wash the paraphernalia from her breast pump every night:

When I was pumping breastmilk, for the first few months I very carefully washed and then boiled each part of the tubing every evening. A pain in the neck, and once the pot boiled dry and we lost the tubing and the pan, and had to spend an unplanned hour or so outside b/c the house stank. You can put the tubing in the dishwasher instead, but we have a full dishwasher only a couple times a week, so I didn't even consider that. Then, I saw the light, and I started running the dishwasher every night no matter how full or empty it was, just to get the tubing clean. Yes, I can hardly believe it myself now, but it was a HUGE relief not to have to do all that washing and boiling when I was finally home from work and could actually spend some time with my dear little baby.

Another option: buy a second set of breast pump parts to keep on hand.


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Wow...I pumped for a year with each kid and I'll cop to much laxer hygiene standards. I'd wash the milky parts once a day with soap and water, and throw everything including the tubes into the dishwasher maybe once a month. Gross? I guess - but we are/were all healthy.

I found life tremendously easier after purchasing not one, but two extra sets of pump handles. Also, I learned from some other moms that it's ok to wrap the pumps in a dishtowel and lunchpak and then store them in the fridge if you are only a few hours between pumping sessions. This cuts down on the washing sessions.

I found life tremendously easier after purchasing not one, but two extra sets of pump handles. Also, I learned from another mom that it's ok to wrap the pumps in a dishtowel and lunchpak and then store them in the fridge if you are only a few hours between pumping sessions.

I use the medela microwave bags to clean my pump parts - just wash everything w/ soap and water, then zap them in the bags w/ a few ounces of water for 3 minutes and they are sanitized! Much less work and water. You can get them at Target - each bag lasts 20 uses, and for me, perfect at work.

Also, if you're in the market for a new dishwasher anyway, there are new models with 2 drawers. You can do 1 full load or 2 half loads, using the appropriate amount of water for each.

A smaller drawer also lets you get 1 load going, say, before dinner if you have enough stuff from earlier in the day. Then load the dinner dishes into the second drawer while the first is running.

I used the medela systema and never washed the tubing (except for before the first use) because it never came in contact with the milk.

I think I bought a total of 4 pairs of shields. I was able to get all the parts online for a decent price, and it was worth it to not have to worry about having clean parts.

I just use an Avent Isis hand pump, so no tubing, but I've started putting all the other parts in a small zippered lingerie bag and tossing it in the top rack of the dishwasher. It keeps all the small parts contained.

I never washed the Medela tubing either - as Rachel said, it doesn't come in contact with the milk. I had two complete sets of horns and stuff, and washed it every other pump - using the dishwasher if it needed to be run, or doing by hand otherwise.

Consumer Reports did a test on dishwashers a while back. It showed that it uses less water overall to run it not-completely-full more frequently, than to wash by hand more frequently. The newer dishwashers have settings for "lighter load" or "half load" or something similar, which cuts down on runtime and amount of water used.

We ended up getting a second set of Medela pump parts by using the hospital's pump in our post-delivery stay. Our insurance had 100& maternity care, so they didn't cost us any more than what we were already paying.

We used the hospital grade Medela pump (Symphony, I think) in the hospital, but all the parts were compatible with my Pump In Style.

We also used the microwave sterilizer bags. I would like to note that these bags are approved for Medela products (which are HDPE plastic), but were not designed for polycarbonate bottles (Avent, Dr. Brown's, Playtex, some Gerber, Soothie, etc.: do a Google search for a more complete list). I feel bad now that I've learned more about bisphenol-A leeching to have microwaved the polycarbonate bottles.

i had no less than 7 shields and bottles/handles etc, and would throw them in the dishwasher about once a week but also washed them with a bottle brush and hot soapy water all the time. i am pretty sure you need to sterilize only in the beginning when baby is young and/or longer if preemie. medela also makes wipes to wash them with if you don't have water handy - not sure how different they are than regular wipes... :)

We used the Avent Microwave Sterilizer which worked great for sterilizing bottles and pump components.

Although, now that we've got a good, new dishwasher (and no longer bat an eye at our toddler stealing kibbles from the dogs and eating them) we probably won't bother using a separate sterilizer if a new sibling comes along.

I remember spending several months carefully washing out my breastpump parts each night. We too have a dishwasher that we only run every 2-3 days. I think you're right--it would have been worth it to have run it every day just to get that little bit of washing time back. I don't think it really occurred to me while I was doing it how much it was contributing to my overall exhaustion of being a working mom.

Yeah, you aren't supposed to wash or sterilize the tubing UNLESS milk accidentally backs up into it--to do so wears out the tubing and compromises its integrity, so to speak.

Also, you don't need to sterilize every day, a wash with hot water and soap will suffice. In fact, you can just rinse your equipment after each pumping session and just wash the equipment with hot soapy water when you are home.

The best hack? Don't be ridiculously overzealous with your cleaning and disinfecting. And oh yeah, conserve water so your kid grows up to a better planet.

I have to second Amanda on the Medela Quick Clean Micro Steam bags. Like these: http://shop.nurturecenter.com/mequclmistba.html

Even though we are well-past breastfeeding at my house, we still use them to keep the sippy cup valves from getting gunky.

I agree with Amanda, "you don't need to sterilize every day, [deletia] you can just rinse your equipment after each pumping session and wash the equipment with hot soapy water when you are home." - This is exactly what I do. I sterilized the tubing before the first use, but not since. Sometimes the other parts go in the dishwasher, sometimes in the microwave sterilizer, and a few times I used the Medela wipes.

Yeah, if milk doesn't get into the tubes, then you don't need to touch them.

Jasus- that's a lot of work. I just gave the shields a good soapy water rinse and like Amanda et al, cannot say enough for those Medela Microwave Sterilizer Bags.

They're great for binkies, bottles, etc too.

I threw all my pump parts into the dishwasher in a mesh laundry bag - which I think was a Parent Hack a while back.

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