BEFORE First Use
After removing your new Pumpin’ Pal flanges and parts from their packaging, give them a thorough washing with the process described below under “How to Clean.”
HOW OFTEN to Clean
As long as your baby isn’t premature (born before 37 weeks) and nobody in the home (including your baby) is immune compromised, our silicone flanges can be wiped completely dry between pumping sessions with a lint-free cloth (like microfiber) and washed every 3-4 times or once a day, whichever comes first. This is safe because human milk actively kills bacteria for up to eight hours at room temperature (below 77°F/22° C).
If your baby was born before 37 weeks or is immunocompromised, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend a more thorough and frequent cleaning process. They also recommend this for babies under three months old, but many healthcare professionals don’t believe it’s necessary when parents already have so many responsibilities caring for a new baby.
STORING in the Fridge
We don’t recommend putting our silicone flanges in the refrigerator between pumping sessions because it can make them cloudy from oils and milk debris that bond to the silicone. Instead, just wipe them completely dry with a lint-free cloth (like microfiber) and they’ll be fine until you’re ready to pump again.
WHAT to Clean
Only the parts that come into contact with the milk need to be cleaned. This includes the flanges, collar rings, bottles, bottle adapters, and vacuum valves that attach to the bottom of the bottle adapter (like the white Spectra duckbill valve and the yellow Medela valve with white membrane).
Backflow preventers and their membranes don’t usually need to be cleaned because they don’t come in contact with milk.
The tubing never needs to be cleaned unless there’s condensation. If you ever do have to clean the tubes, a needle-free syringe can push soapy water down them and they can be easily dried by taking them outside or to a large room, holding them by one end, and making large circles with your arms to spin the water out with centrifugal force.
Keep an eye on the silicone vacuum valves and membranes for stickiness that indicates they’re breaking down and need to be replaced (usually about every 6-8 weeks depending on how often they’re used).
WHERE to Clean
Handwashing in the sink is usually best. The flanges are dishwasher safe on the top rack, but the heat drying process can make them cloudy so it’s harder to see your nipple in the tunnel. If you do clean them in the dishwasher, be sure to use a soap without a slippery anti-spotting ingredient as explained below.
HOW to Clean
Hand wash them with warm water, a little dish soap (see brand recommendations below), and a CLEAN small, soft bottle brush that fits inside the tunnel like the smaller brushes in this set and this set. If you change soaps, be sure to thoroughly clean the brush or sponge or use new ones so they don’t transfer any of the old soap.
Thoroughly scrub both the outside AND the inside tunnel. Air dry or wipe dry with a lint-free cloth. Our Air-Dry Mesh Bag is a convenient way to dry freshly washed parts naturally.
WHICH Soaps to Use
Here’s Why: All other dish soaps seem to leave a slippery residue on our silicone flanges that make them less tacky. (We think it’s ingredient to prevent spots but we haven’t been able to identify it definitively yet.)
- On the outside of the flange, this slippery residue makes the flange fall out of the collar ring more easily, risking spilled milk. This is a problem even if you’re not using the silicone flanges for elastic nipples.
- On the inside tunnel, the slippery residue keeps the tacky silicone from being able to hold elastic tissue in place, allowing the nipple to move, creating potentially painful friction.
So far, the only dish soap we’ve found without the slippery ingredient is the original version of Dawn Ultra that has yellow ducks on the label.
Outside the US: Unfortunately we haven’t had much feedback or experience with dish soaps (like Fairy) other than the brands below. Please let us know if you have any info or recommendations!
TO RESTORE YOUR FLANGES TO LIKE-NEW CONDITION:
When there’s oil buildup or slippery soap residue, the silicone flanges can be restored to like-new condition by using our Silicone Cleaner. It’s earth-friendly and biodegradable. This fabulous silicone cleaner also can be used occasionally instead of soap and water for on-the-go cleaning. Another brand of the same cleaner is available on Amazon (different label, same ingredients). Other silicone cleaners such as those to clean adult toys may also work.
OTHER SOURCES OF SLIPPERY FILM:
Another common cause of slippery residue on silicone is from hard-water treatment systems, also known as water-softening systems.
- If you’re not sure if you have a hard-water treatment system, check if anyone in the home or building regularly adds minerals that such systems require. If they look baffled, there probably isn’t one. 🙂
- If you DO have a hard-water treatment system, it’s possible that the cold water in the bathroom may NOT be connected to it (by code in some areas), so it’s worth trying to wash your flanges there to see if it helps.
Can my flanges be cleaned in the dishwasher?
Our silicone flanges can be cleaned in a dishwasher on the top rack, but most automatic dishwasher detergents can etch the surface causing them to become foggy.
Also, if you’re using the silicone flanges to control elasticity, it’s best to avoid cleaning in the dishwasher because many dishwasher detergents contain an anti-spotting ingredient that binds to silicone and acts like lubricant, making the silicone no longer able to keep the nipple from stretching too far.
So while you can clean the parts in the dishwasher, we don’t recommend it and we do not replace parts that are damaged in the dishwasher. Do not use any chemicals such as bleach to clean or sanitize the flanges.
OFFICIAL Pump Part Cleaning Recommendations