When using our silicone flanges to control elasticity, lubrication needs to be completely eliminated so the tacky silicone can hold the nipples in place to keep the milk ducts open for more thorough milk removal.  Only the very tip of the nipple should move in the flange.   

Here's a list of known lubrication sources to check (this list is always evolving, so let us know if you find something else we should add!):

Any lubrication applied directly to your breasts, nipples, or areolae, OR your baby’s cheeks or mouth (if you're breastfeeding), at any time of the day because it stays in the deeper skin layers for several days 
  • Oil (coconut oil, vitamin D, vitamin E, etc) 

  • Nipple butter 

  • Lotion 

  • Lanolin 

  • Creams 

  • Medications 

  • Epsom salt soaks 

Dish soap that leaves a lubricating (and sometimes irritating) film on silicone 

Only the original Dawn Ultra (blue with yellow ducks on the label) and green original Palmolive types remove all the milk and body oils without leaving anything lubricating behind.  (After switching soaps, be sure to change or thoroughly wash any sponges or brushes that were used with the old soap.)

Dishwasher soap 
OR rinse aid 

  • Anything with a "prevents water spots" or "shine" feature leaves a lubricating (and sometimes irritating) film on silicone 

Cleaning nipples and areolae in the bath or shower 
  • Moisturizing soap (Aveeno, Dove, Castile, most liquid soaps) — It's fine to use moisturizing soap on the rest of your body, just not on your nipples and areolae
  • Not cleaning at all — It’s important to wash your nipples and areolae to remove the lubricating daily milk oils.  We recommend a standard non-moisturizing bar soap like Ivory, and the original non-moisturizing versions of Dial, Safeguard, Irish Spring, cheap hotel travel soap, etc (the kinds that leave your skin "squeaky clean").  If you prefer not to use soap at all on your nipples and areolae, try a microfiber cloth.

Putting silicone flange in the refrigerator 
  • It seems to lock milk oils on the silicone more firmly so they’re harder to remove
  • As long as there isn’t an infection in the home, just wipe them dry after pumping and wash them thoroughly every 3-4 sessions

  • Dry flanges will not grow bacteria and human milk is already resistant to bacterial growth

  • It will help to wash them after every pumping session until all the lubrication has been eliminated

Wool breast pads 
  • Wool contains lanolin which is moisturizing 

Household water softener 
  • Water softening minerals leave a slippery residue on skin

  • Use witch hazel before and after pumping to remove it (see below)

  • Try cleaning the flanges in the bathroom sink using just cold water (some locations have a building code requiring water softener systems to bypass the bathroom cold water tap)

It can take 3-5 days after discontinuing the lubrication for it to work its way out of your deeper skin layers.  During that time, it can help remove surface oils by using pure Witch Hazel (like in hemorrhoid pads) to wipe your nipples and areolae both before and after pumping.  Use a pure kind without other ingredients other than water or the medicated kind that has glycerin.  Alcohol-filtered types like Thayer’s and Tucks remove the natural (bad) smell and don’t have alcohol in the final product.

Until the oils are completely gone in a few days, one technique to get as much milk removed as possible and protect your milk supply is to stop pumping halfway through and finish pumping with your old flanges (assuming they don't hurt).  This will also reduce your risk of sore spots from friction while there's still oil.

It also may help to use our silicone cleaner to restore the flanges to like-new condition (it's biodegradable and non-toxic). It's the same as the Lilypadz silicone cleaner on Amazon if that could get to you quicker (but it doesn't have Prime shipping).  An alternative to try is a silicone cleaner for adult toys. 

If you find that your nipples feel too dry after all the lubrication is removed, just spread your milk on your nipples after feeding or pumping.  It has water-based fats that aren't lubricating but do moisturize nicely.  Let us know if that doesn't help so we can check for other issues. 

Once all the lubrication is gone, you should start getting better milk removal with the silicone flanges and they should be completely comfortable for the whole pumping session.   If not, let us know and we'll do our best to figure out why.

Reviewed by Diana West, IBCLC

June 21, 2021