My friend Karen turned me on to these microwave sterilizing bags from Medela. I got them for the trip to Hawaii, but I’ve found myself using them at home – they’re great! To use them, you put your pumping equipment in the bag, add water, and microwave on high for 1 1/2 to 5 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave. You pour out the water using the hole on one side, then carefully open the bag. I think this is the easiest way to sterilize the tubing from my breast pump. The bags can also be used to sterilize most bottles, nipples and pacifiers. The best part is, they’re reasonably priced – I got a box of 5 bags at Target for about $5, and each bag can be used up to 20 times.
I try not to be overly paranoid about sterilizing, because I know a little exposure to germs is actually good for a child’s long-term health. I also keep in mind that our pediatrician said hot water and soap gets everything clean enough, and I try to remember to microwave the kitchen sponge on high for a minute every day to kill any bacteria growing inside. But I think it’s important to sterilize everything at least once in a while, and sometimes I don’t have a full load in the dishwasher. That’s when these bags really come in handy.