What to Do With Your Old Breast Pump When You're Finished Pumping?


So you’re finished weaning – now what should you do with your breast pump? The answer depends on whether you think you might use it again for another child, or whether you’re sure that you’re done pumping forever. Here’s what to do with an old breast pump when you’re finished pumping.

Medela breast pump in front of a breast pump bag with packed up pump parts

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What to do with an old breast pump

Finished using your breast pump but not sure what to do with it? You can:

  1. Store it for a future baby
  2. Sell your breast pump
  3. Donate it
  4. Recycle the pump

Here’s more information on each of these options.

How to store your breast pump for a subsequent baby

If you plan on having another child – or even if you think you might – it’s a good idea to keep your pump.

You can usually get a new pump through insurance with each baby, but an extra pump can be really useful to have as a backup. For example, with my second and third babies, I was able to leave my old pump at work while using my new one at home. This made my commute a lot easier.

Here’s how to pack up your breast pump to keep it in good condition for use in a few years.

1. Sterilize pump parts and bottles

Sterilize all of your pump parts and bottles, and then let them air dry.

Sterilize Pump Parts on the Stove

Once they’re dry, put them in gallon-sized zip-top plastic bags or another clean container for storage.

2. Wipe down any non-washable components

Clean your pump and all your pump accessories that can’t be washed (such as your charger, car adapter, etc.) by wiping them down. Medela Quick-Clean Wipes can be useful for this.

quick clean wipes

3. Store somewhere temperature-controlled

Put everything in a bag and, if possible, store it someplace that is at least somewhat temperature-controlled.

So for example, if you have the choice between your drafty basement or a garage that gets really hot in the summer, your best bet is the basement.

When it’s time to use your old pump again

Then, when you’re getting ready to use the pump again, I would suggest washing and sterilizing the pump parts and bottles that you plan to reuse.

One note – old pump parts can sometimes lose suction, so it’s important to replace breast pump parts on a regular basis. I would suggest getting a new set of pump parts when you start pumping again.

Your old pump parts can be useful as a backup (if, for example, you drop your duckbill down the garbage disposal in the middle of the night). If you test them and find the suction is comparable to your new parts, you can continue to use them.

There are no concerns with continuing to use old bottles unless they start to leak.

How to sell or donate your breast pump

If you are done with your pump forever, selling your used breast pump – or donating it – may be an option. However, used pumps should only be reused by another individual if they are a closed system pump. If you have an open system pump, you should not sell or donate your used breast pump.

Closed system pumps have a barrier between milk and the pump motor, while open systems do not. (More on this here.) It’s not possible to sanitize an open system pump, even if you buy all new tubing and parts.

How do you know if your pump is an open system or closed system? If your pump has a backflow protector between the pump parts and the tubing (an example is shown below), then it is closed system.

backflow protectors

Here’s a partial list of open system pumps vs. closed system pumps:

Open System:

Closed System:

Note that even if your pump is a closed system, most pump warranties won’t cover anyone but the original owner. It’s a good idea to make sure that the new owner understands they are buying the pump without a warranty.

Where can you sell your pump?

A lot of people use buy/sell/trade Facebook groups.

Where can you donate your pump?

A common question is whether or not places like Goodwill or the Salvation Army will accept used breast pump donations.

While you can ask, most charitable organizations will not accept even closed system pumps, as there are liability concerns with personal medical devices. You might have better luck offering your pump for free on Craigslist or Freecycle to someone who needs it.

How to recycle your breast pump

If you’re not able to sell or give away your pump when you’re finished with it, recycling it may be an option. Some breast pump manufacturers – including Medela and Hygeia – have pump recycling programs.

Medela breast pump recycling program

The way Medela’s program works is that you request a shipping label, and then you ship your pump and charger (not your pump parts) to Medela. You have to pay to cover the shipping; the label just has the correct address and your confirmation number.

Then, they have a third-party provider break down the parts and recycle whatever they can.

Spectra and other breast pump brands

What about Spectra breast pump recycling? Spectra suggests that you recycle your old Spectra pump by taking it to an appliance or PC recycling center.

That also might be an option for other non-Spectra pumps without a recycling program.

If your pump manufacturer doesn’t have a recycling program and you think they should, call or email them! Medela’s program got started through a petition.

What have you done with your old breast pump when you were finished pumping?

References

  1. Kellymom. “What should I know about buying a new or used breastpump?” https://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/buying-a-used-or-new-pump/
  2. Medela. “Frequently Asked Questions.” https://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/faqs#medela-recycles
Medela breast pump in front of a breast pump bag with packed up pump parts with text overlay what to do with your breast pump when you're finished pumping

Thinking about weaning from the pump? No idea where to start? Worried that you’ll get a clogged duct or mastitis when you stop pumping? Grab my one-of-a-kind guide here.





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