Rented Breast Pumps Are Disgusting Germ Factories

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shutterstock_81455269Thinking of renting a breast pump? I don’t blame you. Good breast pumps can run you upwards of $300. Just make sure if you skimp on the purchase, you buy your own accessories.

Basically, anything that touches your boob or has your milk flowing through it needs to be properly sterilized. That’s pretty obvious, I guess. What’s not obvious is that even hospitals that rent out this equipment regularly may not be able to ensure proper sterilization. The FDA advises all women who use rented or second-hand pumps to buy an accessory kit with new breast shields and tubing. Even if your pump looks clean, it may have lingering harmful bacteria. Gross.

Babycenter reports on the FDA findings:

Potentially infectious particles may linger in a breast pump or its accessories for a long time after a woman finishes using it. These germs can infect the baby or the next woman who uses that pump, said Dr. Michael Cummings, an obstetrician and gynecologist with the FDA.

The report, published on the Consumer Updates page of the FDA’s website, offers the following tips to ensure that a breast pump is clean:

  • Rinse each accessory that comes into contact with breast milk in cool water immediately after pumping.
  • Wash each accessory separately using liquid dishwashing soap and warm water, and rinse each piece in hot water for 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Allow each accessory to air-dry completely on a clean towel or drying rack.

The FDA noted that women who rent breast pumps should request that all parts of their pump be cleaned, disinfected and sterilized according to the manufacturer’s directions. Women need to follow these safety guidelines even if they decide to use a pump considered “hospital grade.”

Renting a pump, borrowing one from a friend, or buying one second-hand is still fine. But since your saving money on the purchase, drop the extra $20 to buy a new accessory kit that includes new breast shields and tubing. You can find them on Amazon – the parts are really pretty affordable. I have a breast pump from my first child, but after reading this I may just buy some new parts before my second is born this Spring.

If you’re not one of those women who is eligible for a free pump, this is definitely the way to go.

(photo: Draw/


  1. Véronique Houde

    January 18, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Actually, in Montreal (I don’t know for the rest of Canada), you can’t rent a machine without buying new parts that are touching your breasts, since breastmilk can transmit std’s and the such. And Medela cancels its warranty if you have purchased their machines second hand since they are meant to be personal to each woman. There is a difference in the way commercial breastpumps and personal breastpumps are made, and although in commercial machines, it’s impossible for breastmilk to make it inside the motor, in personal breastpumps it can. Now bear in mind, my sister took her sister-in-law’s pump and I didn’t see anything wrong with that, but I definitely wouldn’t buy one of craig’s list!!

    • StephKay

      January 18, 2013 at 11:57 am

      Yup, I’m in the next major city over (Ottawa) and it’s the same policy here, so I’d imagine it’s national. The big issue is HIV, since it is present in breast milk and requires specific sterilization procedures compared to other viruses.

  2. copycait

    January 18, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Or you could just sterilize the pump kits at home. 10 minutes in boiling water. Duh.

    • bumbler

      January 18, 2013 at 7:20 pm

      YESSSS. Thank you.

  3. Bumbler

    January 18, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    The other thing to consider, other than boiling, is that viruses such as HIV and Hepetitis can only last outside of the human body for so long. If you buy a pump online, let it sit for 3-4 weeks, the viruses will have died off. Boiling, microwaving and direct sunlight are also legit means of sterilization. If you want to know the exact times for viral die-off, it can be easily googled and found on the CDC website.

  4. bellynbaby

    January 29, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    For the peace of mind I would suggest buying the pump use. Sure it is expansive but sometimes you have to pay the price for a good product. Keeps in mind it is for your health and your baby’s health after all! to read more about what we consider the best of the best when it comes to pump.

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