9 best practice tips for insulin pump care

woman with insulin pump and yoga mat

Properly caring for your insulin pump is important to help protect its longevity. We’ve compiled this list of “Best Practices” for you based on common questions from customers like you. Our devices are made to be durable enough to be part of your everyday life, but like anything, sometimes it’s important to go back to the basics of what works and what doesn’t so that it can last as long as possible. I know, a pump becomes a part of you (I’ve been pumping for almost 13 years!), but these are important good behaviors to keep in mind when using your pump daily.

1. Make Sure Your Hands Are Clean!

Avoid exposure to sunscreens, lotions, insect repellents, and household and organic cleaning agents. So if you’re spending the day cleaning or just put lotion on, be sure to wash and dry your hands before handling your pump after using these types of products.

2. Open and Close Your Battery Cap with a Coin

Use a thick coin, such as nickel or quarter, to open and/or close your battery cap. Tighten until the slot is horizontal to prevent it from over-tightening. 

Pro tip: I admit, I’ve used a butter knife to open mine (this is a no-no!). One thing that might help is to keep a coin nearby where you store your extra batteries. I recognized I normally change my pump battery in the kitchen while I’m changing my site, which is why it was always more handy to grab a knife from the drawer. Now I have a few quarters stored near my battery and haven’t had any issues.

3. Clean Your Pump with a Mild Detergent

When it’s time to clean your pump, wash your hands and use a cloth mixed with mild detergent, such as dish soap, and water, to wipe your pump clean. Do not place your pump under running water or submerge it into any liquid, and avoid cleaning it with household agents such as all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, hand sanitizer, or nail polish remover. There isn’t a set frequency of how often cleaning a pump is recommended, but it’s a good practice to keep your pump in good shape. 

Here are a few additional cleaning tips:

  1. Use an alcohol wipe to disinfect your pump
  2. Use a dry, clean cotton tip to remove any battery residue from the battery cap
  3. Use a dry, clean cloth to remove battery residue from the battery compartment opening

4. Wear Your Buttons Away From Your Body

If you wear your pump in a place where it touches your skin, make sure your pump buttons face away from your body to reduce moisture exposure. Here are a few ways you can wear your pump:

  • Clip it to your waistband or belt
  • Place the pump (with or without the clip) into the pocket of your pants
  • Keep it in your shirt pocket
  • Use the leg or thigh pouch to wear it around your thigh, calf, or ankle

Pro tip: The one time I’ve noticed that my pump is close to my skin is when I wear it in my bra. I make sure that the buttons are faced away from my skin (towards the material) and if it’s a really hot day, I put it in a bra pouch to keep it covered.

5. Exercise with Your Pump in a Case or on Your Belt

Working up a sweat feels good and helps cool down your body, but it can expose your pump to moisture without you even realizing it. Keep your pump dry while exercising and on hot days by wearing it in a case made from water-resistant materials, such as our sports or nylon case, and/or on your belt clip. If you decide to disconnect your pump while working out, make sure it’s put in a safe place.

Sports Case

6. Minimize Scanning Technology Exposure

Did you know that airport body scanners, X-rays, CT scans, PET scans, and MRIs can all interfere with your pump? 

While going through airport security, be sure to remove both your pump and sensor if you’re going through the body scanner, but do not send the devices through the x-ray machine. As an alternative, you can go through an airport metal detector with your pump and CGM, or you can ask for a pat-down screening process. 

If you’re going to the doctor’s office for an X-rays, CT scans, PET scans, and MRIs, be sure to disconnect from your pump prior to the body scan.

7. Disconnect for Water Activities and Saunas/Steam Rooms

Your pump is water-resistant, but not water-proof, so be sure to disconnect from your pump when participating in water activities, showering, or using the sauna or steam room. 

If you’re going to be at the beach, pool, or waterpark all day, consider staying connected to your pump until entering the water or “splash zone,” and take breaks from the water when you need to reconnect. Talk with your family and friends to eliminate the chance of being pushed into the water while wearing the pump. 

Saunas and steam rooms may not come to mind when you think of moisture, but they are high in heat and humidity, both which are bad for your pump and the insulin inside it. Disconnect from your pump before entering either of these. 

While you’re disconnected, test your blood glucose (BG) often, and be prepared with fast-acting insulin and glucose. Be sure to talk with your healthcare team to establish a plan if you’re going to regularly disconnect for longer than one hour.

8. Store in a Dry Cool Place

If you disconnect from your pump, keep your pump, BG meter, and other diabetes supplies in a safe place, unexposed to direct heat and away from water. If your supplies must be outdoors, hide them in a bag, or under a few light colored towels, in a dry shady area. Since different items have different storage requirements, keeping them dry and close to room temperature will ensure that the pump and insulin will perform as expected when you reconnect.

Insulin Pump

9. Dry Your Pump and Use Self-Test

If you notice moisture on your pump, dry it off with a clean dry cloth. You can verify your pump is working properly by selecting Self-test from the pump’s Utilities Menu. If your hands are wet, be sure to dry them off before handling your pump.


- Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems. 
- Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.
Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps
- Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day. 
- Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately. 
Please visit http://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/important-safety-information for complete safety information.

Related Articles

About Author

Blog comments

Submitted by Susan Cox (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I've sent mine through xray for many years along with my phone because it's less hassle. What's the danger regarding xray machines at the airport?

Submitted by naomi.kingery@… on

In reply to by Susan Cox (not verified)

Susan, you shouldn't put your insulin pump on the belt to go through the x-ray because the nearby magnetic fields and radiation from x-ray’s can leave your pump nonfunctional or can damage the part of the pump that regulates insulin delivery. You can continue to wear your insulin pump while going through the airport metal detector, as it will not harm the device or trigger an alarm.

Submitted by Sue (not verified) on

In reply to by naomi.kingery@…

Unfortunately, TSA won't let people just go through a standard metal detector, so that isn't really an option.
Is there a case I could put it in so it can be sent through the Xray machine?? I really don't like being treated like a terrorist.

Submitted by Lisa Lunsford (not verified) on

In reply to by Sue (not verified)

I disconnect my pump and give it to a TSA agent. They put it in a container and carry it to the other side (not through the xray machine and not through a scanner). I then can go through the body scanner and pick the pump up on the other side after they have swabbed it and tested the swab.

Submitted by naomi.kingery@… on

In reply to by Sue (not verified)

Sue, before your TSA screening begins, inform the officer conducting the screening about your diabetes devices and supplies in your carry on. If you don’t want to remove your devices, explain to the officer you cannot remove the insulin pump/CGM as it is under your skin with a needle, and request to go through the metal detector or an alternative pat-down screening process. If you do go through an airport body scanner, be sure to remove your insulin pump and CGM, but do not send your devices through the x-ray machine as an alternative. I recommend reading this article for additional detail on getting through TSA with diabetes devices: http://www.loop-blog.com/get-tsa-5-diabetes-devices/.

Submitted by 747Ned (not verified) on

In reply to by Sue (not verified)

I have been averaging almost 2 flights a week for the last 4+ years with my Medtronic Paradigm 723 pump. (I am about to upgrade to a new pump with CGM).
OLDER STYLE: The airport security MAGNETIC detectors do not alarm on my pump, so I usually just put it in my pants pocket and walk through the scanner, with my arms carefully held against my body so I do not touch the scanner panels (which could set the detector off). Of course this is after I remove all other metal from pockets, and remove my belt and shoes.
NEW: At most airports now we have to go through the FULL BODY scanners. For these I disconnect my pump from my insulin cartridge, and ask a TSA agent to perform a "hand check" on the pump.
They will check it out pretty quickly, and after I go through the scanner the TSA will ask about the infusion set and swab and check my hands for suspicious residues. This only delays my progress through security for a minute or two, usually. A few relatively inexperienced TSA agents may do a pat down, which is a minor hassle, but should only cause a delay of a couple additional minutes. Just stay calm and it will not be a big deal.

Submitted by Marty (not verified) on

In reply to by Sue (not verified)

I have never had any problem at an airport. I tell them that I have a pump and a sensor. I always get a pad down.

Submitted by James (not verified) on

In reply to by Sue (not verified)

Absolute nonsense. TSA allows you to walk through the metal detector without removing your pump. As does every other country in the world.

Submitted by Wendy Connelly (not verified) on

In reply to by Sue (not verified)

I do not understand why it's so hard to have a patt down. I have traveled by plane all my life and have not had a problem stating that I am Diabetic. If you have TSA pre check all you have to say is that you have a pump and they swab your hands and you go through the medal detector and you are on your way.
In all the years I have been on the pump I have never put it or myself through an X-ray.

Submitted by Dan Price (not verified) on

In reply to by naomi.kingery@…

Yes it will make the alarm go off. Then you have to have those TSA people pat you down. :-/ I have been to several airports where this has happened -- just an FYI.

Submitted by Jan (not verified) on

In reply to by Susan Cox (not verified)

One more thing to note that I recently experienced. If you get the hand swab by the agents, make sure your hands are free of hand cream, sanitizer residue, etc. It makes the agents have to give you the pat down and go through your luggage. Not fun!

Submitted by Jean (not verified) on

In reply to by Susan Cox (not verified)

Me too. And I've never had any trouble at the airport.

Submitted by Margie Scott (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I've bee wearing a Minimed/Medtronic pump for 20 years. Two weeks ago while on vacation, I woke up with my pump sight removed 3 out of the first 4 days we were there. I always calculate the buffet meals and physical activities and bring extra reservoirs and infusion sets. At that point, I needed 2 sets to last me 5 days. I went to the resort nurse who gave me tape. I put enough tape on to make sure nothing could get that site removed. FedEx to Jamaica wasn't an option. We have had quite a humid summer here in So Cal. We have vacationed in Jamaica and Hawaii plenty of times before, but this is the only time this has ever happened to me. Do you have any idea why this would happen?

Submitted by Margie Scott (not verified) on

In reply to by Margie Scott (not verified)

Just to add, I had not been in the pool or ocean in these first 4 days.

Submitted by Abby (not verified) on

In reply to by Margie Scott (not verified)

Just a note from my own experience - if I go in a whirlpool it often knocks off the connector. It's the only time I have ever had a problem with losing the site. I have found IV prep pads can help with adhesion, but many people (like me) are allergic to Tincture of Benzoin and break out (itchy poison ivy type rash at the site) about 3 days after using it.

Submitted by Lorraine (not verified) on

In reply to by Abby (not verified)

Abby, I use Tegaderm transparent bandages to cover my CGM, even the new ones that come with their own tapes because those tapes leave adhesive residue on the CGM that is nearly impossible to remove. Anyway, my point is that you could use a Tegaderm bandage to protect your infusion connector from being saturated and falling off. I suggest the approximately 4"x4" one. It is larger than you need, but the next smaller size is something like 2"x2-3/4" and might be a little tricky. If you decide to try this, I DEFINITELY suggest first covering the connector, with or without the un-tubed temporary cover, with an adhesive bandage or a folded square of gauze to prevent removing the connector along with the Tegaderm.

Submitted by naomi.kingery@… on

In reply to by Margie Scott (not verified)

Margie, thank you for putting your trust in us for all those years! I’m sorry you had infusion set adhesion issues while on vacation, and I hope you had a good time otherwise. Different climates, skin lotions/creams (sunscreen), trapped moisture, or different clothing can affect your infusion set adhesion, or the way your body reacts to it. Here are some important things to remember and alternate tips to try: http://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/customer-support/insertion-site-manage…. I hope this helps!

Submitted by steven b (not verified) on

In reply to by naomi.kingery@…

have had horrible times keeping my infusion lines from sweating off from day one of using the pump. i sweat a great deal. only thing i've found that helps much is called skin tac wipe. even then i've had trips to the e r from
this happening. sometimes you're not aware till your sugar is in orbit it's
so high.

Spray the infusion site with a liquid spray anti perspiration and let it dry. The adhesive will stick better. I also use a large cloth band air over the thing, when I use my upper leg. The keys in my pocket loosen the adheasive also. Hope this helps.

Steven, do you not find that using antiperspirant is contradictory to cleaning the site before inserting the infusion set? I'm thinking of introduction of the AP into the body when the set is actually inserted?

Submitted by Cheryl Newman (not verified) on

In reply to by Margie Scott (not verified)

I have been diabetic for 59 years and on the pump since 2002. I have found that the Torbot Skin Tac Wipes work MUCH better that the IV Prep wipes. Sorry Medtronic, but you do need to make better wipes to help hold our infusion sites better. These are more expensive, but are much better adhering. My sites are all so used up that I'm having to go to arms now, and the IV Prep pads just aren't giving strong enough hold, and they also seem to get knocked off my legs or behind.

Submitted by Aleax Marrs (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I have been on the pump for many years now (but less than ten). I find that these tips are AMAZING! I agree that the pump eventually feels like it is just part of you and goes where you go, which it does. However, it is always good to have a reminder of ways to keep insulin pumps in tip-top shape! Thank you for putting this together!

Submitted by naomi.kingery@… on

In reply to by Aleax Marrs (not verified)

Aleax, I’m happy you found these insulin pump tips helpful! It’s always good to have a refresher! :)

Submitted by larry cutting (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I have been a type 1 diabetic for 61 years. I started with a 1 shot per day regimin and over the years advanced to 4 shots per day. I have seen many changes in diabetes care over the years. in2013 I went to a specialist for control and I was put on a medtronics pump. I had been urged for quite a while to change from a needle regiminto pump therapy, but had misconceptions about the pump. now I've been on the pump for a couple of years and often wonder why I waited so long. the pump is so easy to use and will change your life in a positive direction. the support team at the medtronics website are totally awesome. very professional and yet very friendly. my congratulations to a dedicated group.. my thanks to my physician and the medtronics team.

Submitted by naomi.kingery@… on

In reply to by larry cutting (not verified)

Thank you for sharing this with us and for your kind words, Larry. Hearing you're doing well managing your diabetes with your insulin pump and having an amazing support team makes me very happy! Keep up the great work. We’re always here for you if you need anything.

Submitted by Sherrell Bergeron (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I have been a type 1 diabetic for 52 years and have been on the pump for the last 25 years. My life became so much easier using the pump. I love it and it was the best thing I have ever did! My question is about radiation. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July. Now I am ready to begin radiation. I asked if I should take the pump and my cgm off. The drs always say no, but I am still concerned. What do you recommend?

Submitted by naomi.kingery@… on

In reply to by Sherrell Bergeron (not verified)

Sherrell, it makes me happy to hear you’re doing well on insulin pump therapy, but I am very sorry to hear about your diagnosis. We recommend removing your insulin pump, sensor, transmitter, meter, and remote control before entering a room containing an X-ray, MRI, diathermy treatment, CT scan, or other type of radiation exposure. The magnetic fields and radiation in the immediate vicinity of these devices can make them nonfunctional or damage the part of the pump that regulates insulin delivery. Be sure to talk with your healthcare team if you’re doing to be disconnected from your pump longer than an hour. You’re in my thoughts, and I send my very best wishes to you. We’re always here for you whenever you need anything.

Submitted by Al Olmstead (not verified) on

In reply to by naomi.kingery@…

Good morning,on some of my infusion sets after a few days they leak around the area where you attach it to the body. It does not take long for sugars to go skyrocketing. Any idea why it leaks out of this area. Thanks Al

Submitted by naomi.kingery@… on

In reply to by Al Olmstead (not verified)

Al, we recommend changing your infusion set every 2 to 3 days to keep your sites healthy and allow for proper insulin absorption. Your infusion site should be rotated each time you change your infusion set and reservoir, and we recommend avoiding inserting the infusion set 2 inches around your belly button, where your body naturally bends a lot, in areas where clothing might cause irritation, and where you have scarred or hardened tissue or stretch marks. I will have a member of my team connect with you to try and help. In the meantime, you may find this article on infusion set rotation helpful: http://www.loop-blog.com/4-tips-for-infusion-set-and-sensor-site-rotati…

In a person receiving radiation there is no external exposure 'in the room' . As demonstrated by the X-ray technicians going in and out of the room. The X-ray beam is directed only to the site, as well as MRI and ctscan. Generally a good idea to remove pump during ctscan but an absolute must with MRI. The pump can be moved out of the way for an X-ray.

Hi Pat. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us. We do recommend also removing your diabetes devices before entering a room if you’re going to have an x-ray. The magnetic fields and radiation in the immediate vicinity of these devices can make them nonfunctional or damage the part of the pump that regulates insulin delivery.

Submitted by Patricia (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

Whatever you do, don't wear it in water!!!!

Submitted by Carol Levin (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

On vacation this summer with my siblings and our spouses, we scheduled a long float trip. This was on a calm river, no rapids, and I wanted to stay connected and still protect my pump from possible water exposure. After some internet research I found a great option - Travelon's waterproof phone/camera pouch on a neck strap. It was even in stock at my local Bed, Bath & Beyond. The day of the raft trip, I threaded the pump tubing to emerge from the folded/Velcro sealed flap and the pump stayed totally dry all day. The pouch is designed to float if dropped in water, but I didn't want to test that out.

I must be an old-timer. I have used this little pump since before it was judged not to be waterproof. My habit is to keep it with me in the shower. I built a little ceramic bracket, for it, mounted up nest to the soap dish, and it works fine.
BUT, what I want to talk about is the dedicated changing table I plan to build for myself (for changing my infusion sets and monitors). It will be patterned after the one I built, long ago, for our children when they were in diapers, and bathroom space was limited. For me, this one will fit the now available space, have good lighting and a clean working space, storage and access for all the stuff, provisions for record keeping and reordering supplies, and provisions for trash and sharps.
What I need now is for somebody to take an interest in my project, to push me along, ask for progress reports and pictures -- maybe even some deadline pressure for getting my story into a newsletter, or something. Thank you for your attention.

Submitted by Bethany Capasso (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

Hello, my aunt who is an xray tech were just talking about how her hospital the Cleveland Clinic requires them to have patients take off their pumps for xrays now. I have been on an insulin pump for 8 years and we both were wondering how does the exposure effect the pump? What exactly can happen to it?

Bethany Capasso

Submitted by naomi.kingery@… on

In reply to by Bethany Capasso (not verified)

Great question, Bethany. The magnetic fields and radiation in the immediate vicinity of magnetic fields and radition devices can make them nonfunctional or damage the part of the pump that regulates insulin delivery.

Submitted by Robert Thompson (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I just recently had multiple xrays done. Each time the tech asked if I had diabeties and if I was wearing an insulin pump. I said yes as I was disconnecting. They took my pump behind the wall where they stand while the xray is running. Is this enough precaution?
Thanks, Robert

Submitted by naomi.kingery@… on

In reply to by Robert Thompson (not verified)

Hi Robert. Since I don’t know the set-up of the room, I recommend removing your devices before entering the room with these types of equipment.

Submitted by Kathy (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I also thank you for this excellent refresher article! It's been good for me to read and to learn some new info, too, especially about medical testing and travel procedures. The Medtronic insulin pump does become "part of you" after a while, and after 22 years with it, and 42 with Type I diabetes, it's really like my right hand! It has made a full life without RIGID adherence to schedules and food amounts possible for me. I still stay close to what my original daily lifestyle and food choices were beginning at age 21, as 20 years of a habit is hard to break, but there were many changes along the way. Medtronic has been very helpful to me whenever I have had to call over the years and the products are tops. My family would echo these thoughts about my continued reliance on my insulin pump and its benefits to me. Thank you!

Submitted by naomi.kingery@… on

In reply to by Kathy (not verified)

Kathy, thank you for your kind words, and putting your trust in us all these years! Congrats on 42 years! I’m so glad to hear you’re doing well managing your diabetes on insulin pump therapy, and wish you the best of luck. We’re always here for you if you need anything.

Submitted by Sara Johanson (not verified) on

In reply to by naomi.kingery@…

Thankyou for the refresher information ,especially on travel, and exray. Most of all, it is nice to see there are long term type ones out there. I was diagnosed in 1960. Nice to see I have kindred spirits.

Submitted by Jill Nedorostek (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I am a pump user and would always disconnect before swimming in my pool. I found a waterproofed case for the metronic pump called SportGuard which comes with a belt to wear over your bathing suit. Now I can swim as long as I want and the pump stays dry.
Works great!

Submitted by Brett (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

What is being done to get a better CGM to market? I would like a watch type CGM. The new sensors are better but a 20 minute lag time makes a big difference to me. I have had issues getting low sugars at work and am facing termination because of it. I check my sugar eight plus times a day and sometimes a low sugar still sneaks up and bites me in the butt.

Submitted by naomi.kingery@… on

In reply to by Brett (not verified)

Brett, I’m very sorry to hear you’re experiencing lows at work. I imagine this can be tough. We recently announced the first patient has enrolled in our newest clinical trial on our path to the artificial pancreas, a study of our Hybrid Closed Loop (HCL) system. The HCL system being studied is designed to automatically control glucose levels 24/7 with less input from people with diabetes. You can read more about it here: http://www.loop-blog.com/new-clinical-trial-brings-artificial-pancreas-…. I’ll have a member of my team reach out to try and help.

Submitted by Brett (not verified) on

In reply to by naomi.kingery@…


Submitted by Crystal j. Womack (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

Where can you get a case

Post a new comment

Required fields are marked *
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.