22 answers

Medela Pump Tubing

I have the In Style breast pump from Medela. I'm having a hard time cleaning the tubing. They get full of condensation and then start to mold. I run the pump after I'm done to try to dry up the moisture, but that doesn't seem to help. I've boiled them and it's still there. I'm on my second set of tubing in 4 months of pumping. Does anyone else have this issue and how have you cleaned them? Thanks.

What can I do next?

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I had that problem and had to buy a new set of tubing. Try running the pump for a couple minutes after each pump sometimes up to about 10-15 min. good luck

I run mine on the highest setting while I put the milk away, which usually does the trick. It sounds like you've probably done this, though. The other thing the lactation consultants said was to run rubbing alcohol through the tube because it runs the water out and then dries quickly. Good luck!

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It sounds like maybe the problem is your pump...perhaps you need to replace valves?? The pump should be sufficient in drying out the tubes. When mine got worn, the machine didn't "suck" so well. Replacing valves and the rubber cup (not sure what it's called) near the pumper part did the trick.

For myself, I kept two sets of tubing so that when one is being sterilized, I could pump. This also gave me the necessary time I needed to let the sterilized set dry properly.

To sterilize I used any of the following; Medela microwave sterilizing bags, my electric bottle sterilizer (it had shelves inside so you could clean pacifiers etc., and I also had the Avent microwave sterilizer (but stopped using it because stuff became discolored from the heat process).

Often there would be condesation, and sometimes if I pumped incorrectly, milk would go into tubes and I'd have to flush them with water, I'd whip them lasso style until they dried out.

Looks silly, and be sure no one is around, but it works. This is basically what the pump does too. If any moisture remained, I turned on the pump to finish.

If you air dry, be sure to hang the tubes vertically so water can't collect in the middle. Make the room or area is temperate. If it's too warm or cold that might cause moisture too.

1 mom found this helpful

I had that same problem. I contacted Medela. They said not to clean those tubes since it doesn't effect the milk.I thought that sounded strange, but they kept saying that the valves were one way and the air was only used to provide suction. They did send me replacement tubes free of charge. They're great to work with, so I would give them a call.

The issue probably lies in the fact that you have mold in the pump itself because Medela uses an open system. I've seen mold form in Medela pumps and at that point there's nothing you can do. The best thing is to switch to Ameda, although their pumps aren't as fancy.

You are suppose to NEVER wash the tubbing to your breast pump. This is where a lot of women make mistakes. The other problem is when women wash the bottles and or bells and use them before the parts dry. This too causes condensation. Medela is a great pump and the tubing issue is the only issue that most seem to have with the pump. Once the tubbing gets mole in it, please do toss it and by new tubbing. You can never get the mole spores all out and the spores can travel back into the milk.... Ameda is Medela's competition and actually have made back-up filters for their pump and advertise it as the solution to the Medela tubbing problem. If you have wet tubbing, buy new and do not use it when the bottles are wet and never wash it again....

The great thing about Medela pumps is you don't need to clean the tubing, only the parts that touch the milk. The lactation consultant told me in the hospital to be sure to keep bottle upright after pumping to ensure no milk gets into the tubing. She also said if moisture did get in they would need to be replaced b/c due to the valves there isn't really a way to clean them out. All that goes through the tubing is air so you shouldn't need to clean the insides, only wipe down the outside if it gets dirty. Hope you have better luck with the next set!

I boiled some water and put my tubing in that (after removing the heat source). Once the tubes had softened up a bit, I removed the end piece (the part with the plastic "head" that connects to the bottle) then I used a syringe (that we have for administering medicine to our baby) to flush the tubes out, that actually made quick work of the mold on the inside and they looked brand new. Make sure to put the plastic "head" back on before the tubes get completely cool or you will find they may be hard to get back on. If that is the case, just put them back in hot water to soften the tubes up, and try putting them on then.

I've always had spots on my tubing and maybe some discoloration a foggy hugh. I used the Medela microwave bags and I've boiled them too. I liked the bags because it's easier but never noticed mold.

Hi R.

I have seen your many responses.

I too had that problem and tried to clean out the condensation with alcohol along with my husbands air compresser to blow it out after each use.

Fish tank tubing is great, but trying to take off the attachments of the tubing that connects to the pump is next to impossible along with re-attaching them to new tubing. Those connections are really really tight.

Well, through several attempts, mold started growing in mine, so I googled "medela tubing replacement" and was able to order new tubing.

Good Luck

R., I always used the medela steam bags. Worked great! My suggestion is if they are moldy throw them out.

Have you contacted Medela to see what they suggest. I think I would start there. I have had to call them for a couple of other reasons and they have excellent customer service.

I always used pipe cleaners for mine. It worked great!

I have the same issue right now. I was thinking of buying "pipe cleaners" somewhere and using those. The mold is mostly at the end where you pump, so I think they would go in far enough. I know - it's gross! Good luck!

I was told to add a drop or two of rubbing alcohol and then whip them around in the air really fast...sounds strange but it has worked for my friend and I without problem...just don't hit anyone:) and since those tubes don't actually touch the milk (like Medela said) you don't have to worry about rinsing out the alcohol. Even though the tubes don't touch the milk I would still worry about the mold that you are getting so the alcohol and whipping them in the air to air them out should really help with that.
K. H.

I run mine on the highest setting while I put the milk away, which usually does the trick. It sounds like you've probably done this, though. The other thing the lactation consultants said was to run rubbing alcohol through the tube because it runs the water out and then dries quickly. Good luck!

the tubing is the same thing used to put air into fish tanks and easily replaced. Go to any pet store and ask for air tubing. Its very inexpensive and then you know they are clean and don't have to worry about mold. When I get done pumping I first blow really hard into the tubes to push the condensation out then I suck in, to get rid of the steam from blowing in. Every once in a while I wash them in dish washing water, same thing suck in the water and blow back out, rinse out with a small stream of water.

I just finished using my pump since my son has weaned himself at one year. I had good luck with shaking excess condensation out after pumping and the hanging my tubes up so they could dry that way. When they got really yucky with spots once I used a tiny bit of alcohol in a small syringe and squirted it through. Just keep in mind if you use alcohol, you need to flush thoroughly with water and dry well before using again. You don't want any of the alcohol to come in contact with the milk or your baby. Hope this helps.

You are not supposed to clean pump tubing. Not even when you first purchase it. This should be in the directions that come with the pump. milk should never come in contact with the tubing so no need to clean it.

In the hospital the Medela Rep spun them around really hard to use centrifugal force I guess. Seems like you're getting more moisture in the tubing than you should, I don't know why that would be but you might look into why that's happening in the first place.


I thought I was the only one with this problem. My solution was to buy a different pump. I wish I would have known that everyone else had the same problem. This problem also caused the milk to back up into the motor. I did make it through with using the Medela with my first child because Medela would not replace nor help with the problem. With my second child I decided to buy a new one called Lansinoh. Baby R Us recommended it to me and on the box it clearly states that no milk will back up in the tubing. I have been using it for 3 months now and love it. Good luck.. If Medela won't help maybe using all these coments to show it is there product will.

Submerge tubing in a container or sink with bleach and HOT water for few hours...could also use a pipe cleaner. I did put mine (years ago) in a dishwasher..did ok there too.

I had that problem and had to buy a new set of tubing. Try running the pump for a couple minutes after each pump sometimes up to about 10-15 min. good luck

After you replace your tubing and if/when you do get condensation in it again...try taking it outside and whipping it like you are Indian Jones! =) Worked every time it happened to me and I never washed the tubing. I would occassionally get these tiny little bubbles in there. So go practice being Indie!

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