Cleaning your breast pump parts without losing your mind (home edition)

I often lament to friends that I wish breastfeeding could be a casual or part time activity.  I love nursing my children when they are around me.  However, unfortunately, being able to nurse means having to pump every 3-4 hours whenever the children have done me the courtesy of being elsewhere. (How long one can go without expressing milk depends on how old one's baby is and one's own feelings of discomfort.  Many lucky people can go longer than I can.  Also, once your baby is over 8 weeks, you don't have to pump at night if they sleep in blessed longer chunks.)

When I pump at home I do not use the same products and methods to clean the pump parts as I do at work.  This is because I do not need to minimize the time I spend in my kitchen cleaning this equipment for privacy reasons in my own house.  It is also because I try not to use disposable products (like the steam bags and wipes) when it is perfectly convenient to use something else (in this case soap and hot water)
.
The most efficient method I've found for cleaning my pump parts when in the comfort of my own home is this.

  1. 1. I boil water in my electric kettle.  I often start the kettle boiling before I sit down to pump for the last time that day (I keep my pump parts in the refrigerator between sessions if I am going to pump at home more than once in a day).  What's great about using an electric kettle is that you don't have to wait for the water to get hot enough in your sink, nor do you have to get up to turn the stove off as you would with a stove kettle.  My kettle very politely turns itself off when it's done (automatic shut off is also a convenient safety feature for those times that you start making yourself a cup of tea 4 times without actually completing the task because... baby).  We have a Medelco Cordless Glass Electric Kettle.  It's efficient, has automatic shut off, and is pretty and glass, though as previously mentioned any electric kettle with automatic shut off would work just as well. 
  2.  
  3. 2. When I'm done pumping, I take apart the parts and dump them all into a bowl in the sink (pictured). I then add some dish washing soap into the bowl.  You don't need anything fancy here (or ever) like special "baby dish-washing soaps".  Just a good fragrance free soap that you use for all your dishes will do (we use Palmolive Ultra Pure and Clear Dish Liquid because I find that it gets grease off things with the least amount of scrubbing). 
  4.  
  5. 3. I then just dump the kettle full of recently boiled water into the bowl and go do something else for 5 or more minutes.  The beauty of this method is that soap + *very* hot water, means that all the milk dissipates off the plastic by itself and I don't have to go over anything with a brush.
  6.  
  7. 4.  If I'm going to rinse the parts right away, I turn the faucet on after 5 min and run enough water that I can reach into the bowl without burning myself.  I then rinse each part and place it on my drying rack.  Otherwise, I just come back to the bowl, sometimes even hours later to rinse and dry.
 That's it - the simplest method to clean your stuff while using the least amount of mental energy possible.  
   
Share on Google Plus