breast pump with tubing attached and bottle with breast milk inside

How to Clean Breast Pump Tubing (& Properly Dry It)

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Everything You Need to Know About Washing Breast Pump Tubing

If you’ve noticed condensation or even a little milk in your pump’s tubing, you might be wondering how to clean it out (and dry it so that it doesn’t get moldy).

Well, I’m here to help! After all, I’ve wondered the same thing.

I promise, it’s not as complicated as it might seem. You can dry those water droplets pretty quickly and easily, and depending on the pump manufacturer’s recommendations (we’ll get to that part shortly), you might be able to clean the milk out, too.

By the way, you don’t have to clean out the tubing on a regular basis, but if anything gets inside it, then you’ll need to make sure it gets properly cleaned and dried to prevent mold.

Let’s go over how to clean breast pump tubing and properly dry it, then I’ll answer a few frequently asked questions. 

breast pump with tubing wrapped around a bottle and text that reads: how to properly clean & quickly dry breast pump tubing

First, Check the Manufacturer’s Recommendations

Some manufacturers state that, once breast pump tubing has gotten wet, there is no way to properly clean and sterilize it. So before you go any further, it would be wise to check on that.

The only electric pump I’ve used personally is the Medela Pump in Style, and I was able to clean out some milk that accidentally got into the tubing.

However, with some brands like Spectra, the easiest option might be to replace the tubing

And if the manufacturer says it’s okay? Then go ahead and use the following instructions!

How to Clean Breast Pump Tubing

First of all, you’ll need to get any milk out of the tubing, then make sure it’s completely dry before using it again. 

Honestly, sometimes the best way to get breast pump tubing clean is to simply replace it. But if you can’t do that right now and you need to get it clean quickly, here’s how….

  1. Turn off the pump and unplug it.
  2. Remove the tubing from the pump and flanges. 
  3. Rinse the tubing under warm water until any and all breast milk has been removed. Let it soak for a few minutes if needed.
  4. Fill a clean basin (reserved for pump parts) with warm, soapy water and wipe down the tubing’s exterior.
  5. Let the soapy water flow through the tubing to get the inside clean. 
  6. Rinse it under the faucet with cold water until the water runs clear (you shouldn’t see any suds left inside), then shake off any excess water.
  7. Hang the tubing to air dry.

That’s it! Pretty simple. 

So, you might be wondering: What if I’m in a hurry and need to dry my Medela tubing quickly? It can be a little difficult to get all the water droplets out… 

…which is why I’m covering a quicker drying method in the next section.

how to clean breast pump tubing instructions on aqua background with images of bottle, babies, footprints, and onesie

How to Dry Medela Breast Pump Tubing Fast

So, what’s this quick drying method you speak of?

It’s actually really easy – just attach the tubing to your pump and let it run for a few minutes until it’s dry

Got water spots? Run a little white vinegar through the tubing, then follow this same quick-dry method.

I’m not sure if this method is possible with all types of breast pumps, since Medela is the only electric pump I’ve used. Again, when it comes to cleaning your tubing, you’ll have to check the manufacturer’s recommendations because some advise against it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to clean Medela tubing before first use?

No, you don’t need to clean your Medela tubing prior to the first use. According to Medela, you should only wash the tubing if you see residue or condensation in it after pumping.

Does breast pump tubing need to be cleaned?

It depends on the manufacturer – check their recommendations to see whether it can be cleaned or not. Some recommend replacing it. 

Again, breast pump tubing should only be cleaned if there is milk residue in it or if you see condensation. 

And if there’s mold? (Ew!) Don’t bother with cleaning… Just replace it.

What happens if milk gets into breast pump tubing?

If a little milk happens to get inside the tubing, try to clean it out as soon as you can (preferably before it dries – it’s much easier that way!). Make sure it gets completely dry inside to discourage mold and bacteria growth.

You can also replace your tubing if you can’t get it clean or if it starts to get moldy. 

How do you get moisture out of breast pump tubing?

If you see condensation inside the tubing, just hook it up to your pump and let it run for a few minutes. The air should help to dry it out quickly. 

Otherwise, you can hang it up and let it air dry. This way is fine, it just takes a little bit longer!

Where can you purchase new tubing if it needs to be replaced?

You can usually get new tubing on Amazon, although the manufacturer should offer replacement parts through their website, as well.

With some pumps, you might even be able to use super inexpensive aquarium tubing, and just cut it to whatever size works best for you. 

You could also try asking your insurance provider for some extra tubing.

Need some asap? Check big box retail stores like Target, Walmart, Buy Buy Baby, and if nothing else, your local hospital might have some in their maternity ward.

How do you remove mold from breast pump tubing?

You don’t! Yuck…just throw it away and buy new tubing for your breast pump.

If you don’t, mold spores could travel through the tubing and into your breast milk, which would obviously be unsafe for your baby to drink.

Can you boil breast pump tubing?

I wouldn’t recommend boiling the tubing. The high heat of the boiling water could melt it. 

It doesn’t need to be sterilized prior to the first use, and if you happen to get milk in it, then you should simply clean it with warm, soapy water and dry per the instructions above.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to clean and dry your breast pump tubing if anything gets inside – or completely replace it – otherwise, you’ll risk growing mold and bacteria in it. 

In this article, we covered some tips for cleaning and drying your breast pump tubing, and I answered a number of questions you might have had. 

Is there anything else you need to know about washing tubing for your breast pump? Let us know in the comments!

Read More:

Best Wearable Breast Pump for Pumping on the Go: Willow vs. Elvie

Pros And Cons of Power Pumping (Plus a Power Pumping Schedule to Increase Milk Supply)

How to Use Willow Pump – Everything You Need to Know

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