How do I clean or sterilize supplies and pump parts?

AskDr.Sears writes: “When you are pumping milk for a full-term, healthy baby, you do not need to worry about sterilizing storage containers or pump parts. Wash your storage containers in hot soapy water, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before you pump. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for information on washing parts of the pump. Storage containers and parts of some pumps can be washed in a dishwasher.

Mothers who are pumping milk for a sick or hospitalized baby will need to be more careful about milk handling and sterilization procedures.”

From Food Smart: Safe feeding for infants: “To reduce the risk of contamination, all bottles and feeding equipment must be sterilized until your baby is three months old. Equipment can be sterilized with boiling water, with sterilizing solution, or with a steam-sterilizing unit. Please note that a dishwasher does not sterilize bottles or feeding equipment [It sanitizes. –ed.]. After three months of age it is sufficient to wash bottles and feeding equipment with hot soapy water and then rinse.”

We encourage recipients to discuss their and their baby’s needs with potential donors.

The above website proceeds to explain the steps involved in cleaning and sterilizing:

“To clean:

  • Always thoroughly wash and dry your hands with soap and water before cleaning and sterilizing bottles and feeding equipment.
  • Make sure the area used to clean and sterilize your baby’s bottle and feeding equipment is clean.
  • Wash bottles and feeding equipment thoroughly in hot soapy water. If using feeding bottles, use clean bottle and teat brushes to scrub the inside and outside of the bottles and teats to ensure all remaining feed is removed.
  • Rinse the bottles and feeding equipment well in hot water and air dry it, or wash it in a dishwasher.

To sterilise by boiling:

  • Place the bottles, feeding equipment and preparation utensils in a pot if you use glass bottles, a clean cloth in the bottom of the pot may stop bottles from chipping.
  • Fill the pot with water, high enough to cover everything.
  • Bring the water to boil and boil for five minutes, turn off element, and keep pot covered until feeding equipment is needed.
  • Use clean tongs to lift the bottles out and place them on a clean dry surface.
  • If equipment is not used immediately cover and store in a clean place. Store bottles with the teat upside-down in the bottle, or cover the teat with the sterile cap.

For other methods of sterilisation follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. These methods include:

  • Chemical sterilization using sterilizing solution in a plastic container.
  • Microwave sterilization using a special microwave steam-sterilizing unit. This is not suitable for glass bottles.
  • Steam sterilization.”


When using #5 French feeding tubes for at-the-breast feeding or finger feeding, rinse the tubes with hot, soapy water and use a syringe to force soapy water through the tubes, followed by clear water after each feeding. Dry the tubes by pushing air through the tubes.

The longevity of these tubes is not known. The tubes should be replaced when they become gummy, discolored, brittle, etcetera.

Next: How do I protect my breastmilk during a power outage?

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