Can You Reuse Milk Storage Bags? (All You Need to Know)

reused milk storage box image

Breastmilk storage bags have made the process of storing additional milk so much easier and more convenient. Using quality storage bags is both economical and space-saving. They also make it possible for someone else to have access to milk to feed the baby while the mom might be resting or at work. When it comes to cost, you might be asking if you can reuse milk storage bags?

Is it safe to reuse breast milk storage bags?

Not all milk storage bags have been designed for reuse. If you want to reuse the bags, ensure that you invest in bags such as the Haakaa Silicone Milk Bag which has been designed for more than one use. The material used in single-use bags is weaker and won’t withstand multiple sterilizations. 

Why can’t you reuse disposable storage bags?

Disposable storage bags have been created for single use. These bags have been specially sterilized and are ideal for one use. In general, these bags are made from thinner materials and will deteriorate after the first use. Since the material used is weaker, these bags won’t endure regular washing or sterilization. 

Disposable storage bags are also sterilized before packaging and once opened, are susceptible to bacterial cross-contamination. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the safe use of your chosen brand of storage bags. 

How to reuse a breast milk storage bag

The Haakaa Silicone Milk Bag and the Zip Top Reusable 100% Silicone Breast Milk Storage Bags are two of the popular options that are designed for reuse. Initially, these bags come pre-sterilized and can be used straight out of the box. To safely re-use these bags, they must be washed and sterilized correctly after each use. Fortunately, these bags can be cleaned quite easily by regular washing. 

Can you wash and reuse milk storage bags?

Reusable storage bags can be cleaned in the same way you would clean bottles and other feeding accessories. The most common ways include hand washing and using the dishwasher. Let’s have a look at the steps for each cleaning method. 

By handwashing

  • Open the Ziplock seal and rinse out any milk residue
  • Place the bag in warm soapy water and use a bottle brush to thoroughly clean the entire bag
  • Ensure that you use the bottle brush to clean the ziplock to eliminate any milk build-up
  • Soak the bag in the soapy water for a few minutes if necessary
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean warm water
  • You can also use a steam sterilizer to ensure all bacteria is removed

By cleaning it in a dishwasher

  • Open the Ziplock seal and empty any milk residue 
  • Place the milk bag upside down on the top rack of the dishwasher
  • Once the cycle is finished, place the bag open in a steam sterilizer

How do you sterilize milk storage bags for reuse?

Since all milk storage is pre-sterilized, you won’t have to sterilize them the first time you take them out of the packaging. For any future uses cleaning and sterilizing are necessary. Simply follow one of these suggestions:

  • Boiling water: Boil water in a large pot on the stove. Once the bags have been cleaned, place them in the pot of water. Soak the bags in boiling water for about 10 minutes. 
  • Electric steam sterilizer: If you already have a steam sterilizer, you can add the open bags after washing them by hand or in the dishwasher. Leave them in the unit for the same amount of time you do the bottles or feeding utensils. 
  • Sterilization tablets: For parents who are traveling, Milton Mini Sterilizing Tablets are often the best option. Simply fill a container with enough cold water to cover the bags and add the sterilization tablet as per instructions. 

To see just how easy the Haaka Storage bags are to use, watch this clip.

How many times can you reuse a storage bag?

Different manufacturers have varying recommendations about the number of times they can be used. Haakaa storage bags are recommended to be re-used about 5 times. Buying a pack of 10 will give you 50 uses. 

Manufacturers also recommend discarding the bag at first signs of wear and tear, even if you haven’t reached the 5-time mark. Here is more detailed information on the storage of milk storage bags and their expiration date.

How many reusable storage bags should you get?

I recently wrote another article about the number of reusable storage bags needed. In it, I recommended getting about 4 or 5 per day. Options like the Haaka bags come in packs of 11 to make it easier to always have a few on hand. The reason for this is that the mom might express more milk than the baby drinks. Read the full article for a more comprehensive answer! 

How to safely store reusable storage bags to maximize reuse

Storing your reusable milk bags is key to ensuring you can easily and safely use them several times before having to discard them. Some tips to consider include the following:

  • Keep unopened bags in their original packaging in a cool, dry cupboard
  • Bags being kept in the freezer should be kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit and best used within six months
  • Bags used should be cleaned immediately after use and placed in a cool, dry cupboard between uses. If days pass between using a particular bag, it might be necessary to give them quick sterilization before use.
  • Write dates on the bags on the first-day breastmilk is placed in them. This ensures they don’t get used more than they should. 

Pros and Cons of reusable vs disposable milk storage bags

As with all baby products, there are pros and cons to opting to use reusable or disposable milk storage bags. Let’s delve into a few of the more common on both sides. 

Reusable Pros

  • Quality reusable bags are made of thicker material, making them stronger
  • Less chance of leaking
  • 100% BPA-free food-grade silicone
  • Re-using creates less waste, making them eco-friendly
  • Easy to carry around in the diaper bag
  • Take up less space in your freezer than bottles or containers
  • Easier to freeze for extended periods
  • Easy to clean and sterilize

Reusable Cons

  • Bags need to be washed and sterilized before each use

Disposable Pros

  • Easy to use straight out of the box as each bag is pre-sterilized
  • Graduation lines allow you to measure your milk effectively
  • Convenient as you don’t need to clean bags
  • BPA-free
  • Single-use bags eliminate the chance of bacterial cross-contamination

Disposable Cons

  • Can be costly to keep buying bags
  • Thinner materials are prone to leaking
  • Single-use products contribute to more waste

Conclusion

All moms who have previously, or will be breastfeeding, will agree that it’s always a great idea to have milk on hand. Having “backup” milk stored in the fridge makes it easier for anyone in the home to feed the baby at any time. It also ensures there’s no wasting of milk when mom expresses more milk than the little drinks at a particular feeding. 

Having storage bags that can be reused is a huge bonus! They’re not only cost-effective but you’re also less likely to run out of bags in the middle of the night! For more comprehensive information on milk storage bags compared to bottles, I wrote another article on that.

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