Are There Risks or Dangers to Storing Breast Pump Parts in the Fridge?

It’s been common for mothers to store their breast pump parts in the fridge, but did you know that there are risks associated with this? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that you do not put these items in the refrigerator, despite this being a common practice.

Breast pump parts are often stored in the fridge, but is this safe?

It’s become commonplace for mothers to store their breast pump parts in the fridge between uses. This is done to keep them clean and sterile, but it does the opposite. The cooling and warming throughout the day can create an environment where bacteria can grow.

The best way to clean your breast pump parts between pumps is with hot water and soap. Then, it would be best to sterilize them at least once a day by either boiling them, putting them in a dishwasher in sanitizer mode or using a microwave with a steaming bag.

By following these guidelines and tips, you can avoid any potential health risks to your baby. There are other ways to save time while breastfeeding that don’t involve the risk of passing bacteria to your baby.

Tips on Keeping Your Breast Pump Parts Clean

  • Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before handling the pump parts.
  • Rinse the parts with warm water and soap after each use.
  • Sanitize the parts by boiling them in water for five minutes or using a sanitizing bag.
  • Store the parts in a clean plastic bag.
  • Make sure to wash the parts after each use.
wash pump parts after each use

Can you store breast pump parts in the refrigerator?

Putting pump parts in the fridge between sessions is not recommended. It used to be a prevalent practice for pumping mothers because it would save time not to wash the pieces after each session. Recently, CDC has adjusted its guidelines to say it is no longer a safe practice.

What are the Risks to Using the Fridge Hack?

There are risks to storing breast pump parts in the fridge between sessions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends not doing this as it can create an environment where bacteria can grow. When you use your pump, it gets warm and heats up with use. Then you put it in the fridge, and it cools down. Using it again causes it to heat up again.

If you don’t wash off the milk residue, there is a risk that any residue on the pump parts becomes contaminated and will then contaminate any new breast milk pumped. The parts going from warm to cold and back to warm creates an environment where bacteria grow.

How Do You Lessen the Risk?

You can lessen the risk of contaminating your breast milk by following safety guidelines that have been put in place by the CDC. These guidelines recommend that you:

  • Wash your hands before each use of your pump.
  • Inspect your pump before each use to ensure all the parts are clean. If you notice the tubing is contaminated, replace it immediately.
  • Use a disinfectant wipe to clean the knobs and buttons on the breast pump itself.
  • Store milk safely and label each container with the date and time it was collected.
  • Know how long you can keep breastmilk at room temperature and in the fridge.
  • Clean pump parts after each use by hand with soap and warm water or in the dishwasher. Then allow them to air dry.
  • Be sure to sanitize all parts at least once a day (including the washbasin and the bottle brush).

How to Wash Pump Parts

By Hand:

  1. Don’t use the sink. Take apart your pump and place all parts in a washbasin dedicated to washing your baby bottle parts and pump parts. Germs and bacteria in the regular sink can contaminate the parts.
  2. Add soap and hot water
  3. Scrub. Wash items using a bottle brush or a scrubber dedicated to cleaning all parts of your baby’s feeding process. Be sure to sanitize the bottle brush with other parts at the end of the day.
  4. Rinse. Rinse in a separate clean water basin or run them under warm water.
  5. Dry. Place all parts on a clean towel or drying area. Allow to air-dry thoroughly.
air dry baby bottles and pump parts

In Dishwasher:

  1. Wash. Get a basket dedicated to bottle and pump parts that you can put in the dishwasher. This ensures you don’t lose any small parts. If possible, run the dishwasher with hot water or sanitizing setting to help eliminate germs.
  2. Remove from dishwasher. If possible, use a heated dry. Once they are done, wash your hands before removing any parts. Always store in a clean area.

Tips to Save Time While Breastfeeding

Try these breastfeeding tips to help save time and create a good environment for your breastfeeding experience.

Use a hands-free pump. There are so many great hands-free pumps available now. This allows you to multitask while you pump.

Pump directly into bottles. Once you are done, you can cap it and keep it in the fridge to use later. This can save you time later on.

Plan ahead. If you know, you’ll be busy during the day, pump in the morning or evening. Make sure you set aside some time for your pumping sessions, so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Set up a Pumping Station. Make sure you have everything you need in one spot. That way, you aren’t always scrambling around for things when it comes time to pump; you go to your pumping spot.

Store milk in the freezer. This is a great way to have milk on hand for later. Just be sure to label each container with the date and time it was collected.

Make it a Habit or Routine. Create a routine that includes washing your pump parts each time after use. If it is a routine, you will do it automatically without it feeling like an extra step you need to do.

Have a Second Set of Parts. Have a second set of parts for your pump on hand in case of times you can’t wash them properly. Keep them in your breast pump bag or cooler bag for breastmilk while you are on the go.

FAQs about Breast Pump Parts

1. How often do you need to sterilize breast pump parts?

At least once a day, sanitize pump components to help prevent germs from growing. Sanitizing is even more vital if your baby was born prematurely or has a weakened immune system. If your baby is older and healthy, you may not need to sanitize the pump parts as often. Consult your lactation consultant if you have any questions. Use these sanitizer bags for an easy way to properly clean your pump parts.

2. Is it safe to stash your pump parts in the fridge?

No, it is no longer a safe practice to stash your pump parts in the fridge. The hot to cold temperature change can cause bacteria to grow and contaminate your pump parts. It is best to wash them after each use.

3. Can I just put my pump parts in the dishwasher?

Yes, you can place all of your pump parts in the dishwasher. Get a basket specifically for bottle and pump parts, so you don’t lose any small pieces. You can also use the dishwasher’s hot water or sanitizing setting to help eliminate germs. Remember to wash your hands after removing any parts.  

4. Do I need to wash pump parts every time?

Yes, it is crucial to wash pump parts after each use. This helps get rid of any bacteria that may have grown, and it prevents the spread of germs that can contaminate breast milk and potentially harm your baby.

5. Can I just rinse pump parts?

No, you should never just rinse pump parts. The water and soap will help eliminate any bacteria that may have grown, and it will help clean the parts.

Conclusion

Storing pump parts in the fridge is no longer a safe practice and can lead to bacteria growth. It is essential to clean and sanitize breast pump parts to avoid contaminating your breast milk after each use. You can do this by washing your pump parts with soap and water, placing them in the dishwasher, or using a sterilizing solution.

It is also essential to have a routine, so it becomes an automatic habit. It was a common practice to store your pump parts in the fridge between pumps to save time; however, there are other things you can do to save time and not risk bacteria growth. Try using a hands-free pump, pumping directly into bottles, or storing extra milk in the freezer when you don’t have time for an entire pump session. These are all safe and effective ways to save time while breastfeeding.

Always consult a medical professional or a lactation consultant for any questions on safe breastfeeding practices. You can also view the current guidelines for cleaning breast pump parts at CDC.gov.

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