Top 10 Mom-Approved Ways to Unclog a Clogged Duct

Clogged milk ducts are frustrating for any mother to discover – especially if the plugged duct impacts milk flow and supply. However, a plugged milk duct is a fairly common breastfeeding problem, and there are many solutions for resolving them. In this post, we’ll share our tried and true methods for removing clogged milk ducts and preventing them from happening again every breastfeeding mom needs to know!

Woman is clutching her chest, acute pain possible Heart attack

A woman can experience a clogged milk duct at any point in her breastfeeding journey, though they are most common during the newborn and weaning stages. Knowing how to prevent them is the first step – but understanding what to do when you have a clogged duct is essential, especially to avoid mastitis.

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine released guidance in 2023 regarding managing clogged/plugged ducts. In it, they changed recommendations and previous schools of thought regarding treatment and prevention.

Clogged ducts are not literal clogs of milk in the breast. They are inflammation of the milk duct, which causes narrowing. The lump you feel is due to the inflammation. There is evidence to suggest this inflammation is caused by issues with the gut.

First-line treatment includes:

  • Cold therapy on the breast (heat isn’t recommended, only if it provides pain relief)
  • Use of Ibuprofen
  • Gentle, therapeutic breast massage.

My eBook – The Clogged Duct Cure – has all the up-to-date recommendations and information you need to successfully navigate clogged ducts, including some videos for therapeutic breast massage.

1. Gentle Breast Massage

Close-up Of A Woman's Hand On Breast Suffering From Pain

If you want to try massaging the lump out of your breast, therapeutic breast massage is a fantastic method. This is very gentle and helps to drain the lymphatic system and decrease inflammation.

You should avoid deep tissue massage as this can lead to even more inflammation and issues with your clogged ducts.

Here is a video demonstrating one method for this. In The Clogged Duct Cure, I provide more in-depth instructions.

Wondering if your milk supply is normal? Click here for The Breastfeeding Mama's Free Milk Supply Quiz!

2. Ice/Cold Therapy

You should consider using ice packs or cooling packs on the breast in between feeds. You can use them for about 5 minutes on, 30 minutes off throughout the day while you are awake. I generally recommend using them after a nursing session. I always like the Lansinoh Therapearls.

3. Ibuprofen/Tylenol

The ABM recommends alternating ibuprofen and tylenol to help with inflammation and pain.

Ibuprofen can cause gut issues in some people, so it’s possible that overuse can contribute to more gut dysbiosis,

4. Feed on Demand/Avoid Over-Pumping

Keep nursing your baby on demand as you normally would. It may be tempting to pump extra to try and “get the clog out” – but this may cause more issues than it resolves. The extra pumping may increase inflammation and exacerbate the problem.

I was just working with a mother who told me that her clogged duct pain got away worse once she started pumping.

5. Castor Oil Packs

This is not ABM-approved, but I know many lactation consultants see a lot of success with using castor oil packs on the breast. This should not be used internally, and you should completely clean the breast before latching your baby when using this method.

6. Address Gut Issues

It’s thought that clogged ducts may be dysbiosis in the gut. If you are continually getting clogged ducts, it might be worthwhile to address any nutritional deficiencies, start probiotics, etc.

Here are some different probiotics that might be helpful for clogged ducts and breastfeeding health in general.

It might also be worthwhile trying out the Tiny Health gut testing. You can use the code TBM for $20 off a kit. This can be really beneficial for targeting your specific gut issues.

My team regularly deals with clogged ducts and can make many different recommendations based on your situation. You can book a virtual consult here to help stop and prevent clogged ducts altogether!

7. Wear Looser Clothing

Clothes Template. Happy black woman pointing at white pullover hoodie, mockup for logo or branding design

It’s said that some clogged ducts can be resolved by wearing looser clothing and bras. Sometimes, external pressures or sleeping on your stomach, putting pressure on your breasts, can irritate clogged ducts. I would also recommend avoiding tight-fitting bras as well.

8. Therapeutic Ultrasound

This is a method that is used by some physical therapists and chiropractors to help with clogged ducts. I have seen it used along side breast massage and nursing of the baby.

10. K-Taping

K-tape is sometimes used to help with lymphatic drainage. You can place it on your breast for several days to help with clogged ducts. I would work with a lactation consultant to see if this is a good option for you.

9. Consult a Healthcare provider

If none of these methods work for you we suggest you get medical attention. As said before, clogged ducts are not too damaging, but if left alone, they could turn into mastitis or abscesses, which can require medical attention. After a few days without being able to unclog the duct, if irritation persists and other mastitis symptoms such as a fever start to occur, contact your doctor to resolve the issue or a lactation consultant.

Methods I No Longer Recommend But Moms Still Do

I used and recommended these methods and that I know some moms swear by. They were originally published with this article. I keep them in because moms use them, but I would not start with these. I’m not entirely sure why these methods worked for so many (may be more coincidental than anything).

1. Dangle Feeding

This method involves getting on all fours and nursing your baby while your breast is dangling. The combination of gravity and suction helps to clear the clogged duct (this was based on the idea that there was a clog of milk, which we now know not to be the case).

There have been so many women who have told us that this is the only way they were able to get their clogged duct out!

This is the method I used to get rid of the large clogged duct I mentioned previously. Here is a video I did on TikTok demonstrating this method:

@thebfmamaReply to @gracemaldonado7 ##newmomhacks##newmomtips##milksupply##lowmilksupply##cloggedduct##lactationhelp##learnontiktok##tiktokpartner

♬ original sound – Katie Clark, CLE®

2. Use Your Baby

brown haired woman breastfeeding child

One of the most effective ways to get a clogged duct out is just by simply using your baby. Some people suggest pointing the baby’s chin or nose toward the clog, though I’m unsure if there’s much science to back that one up. It’s worth a try, though!

3. Using Heat

Heat is no longer recommended to treat the clogged duct. There is potential for it increasing inflammation. With that said, if it provides pain relief, it might be worth doing.

You can use just about any warm compress on your breast to try and loosen up the milk. We recommend using these Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Gel Packs. Just take the pack and microwave it for 10 seconds before applying it to your breast.

You can also just a regular ol’ heating pad as well.

If you want to combine massage AND heat, I recommend a lactation massager. Here are two brands you can consider:

You could also use a warm washcloth, take a warm bath, or you could even try getting in a hot shower and letting the warm water stream hit the affected breast. Combine with massage for best results!

5. Use the Haakaa Hack

Similar to using heat from warm water in the shower, this method could help loosen the milk clog.

Fill a container with warm water and Epsom salt and place your breast in the container to soak.

While soaking you can try to massage it out, using two methods at once! This soaking technique might be slightly more uncomfortable if you have a smaller bust.

This is our secret weapon when it comes to removing clogged ducts. Soooo many mothers swear by it!

If you’re interested in learning more about this method I invite you to read our post completely dedicated to it! How to Remove Clogged Ducts with Haakaa: The Secret Weapon All Moms Should Know About.

As a brief summary, this method is done by taking a Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump and filling it with warm water and Epsom salt. You then suction the breast pump to the irritated breast and the suction and heat will work together to draw out the clogged duct.

6. Comb it out

This sounds a little uncomfortable, but I’ve heard other moms swear by using a wide-tooth comb to essentially “comb” out the

If you are more of a video watcher, make sure you check out this video (though keep in mind it is not up to date)

We hope that one of these tactics will be useful for you to get out your clogged duct so that you can get back to comfortably feeding your little babe.

What is a Clogged Milk Duct?

First things first- WHAT is a clogged milk duct?

A clogged milk duct is an obstruction in the pathway that brings milk from your breast to your baby. This clogged duct can result in a tender lump in one of your breasts with some redness on the visible skin surrounding the lump.

Despite what many believe, a clogged duct is actually QUITE small – the reason why you may develop a large dump is actually due to the inflammation that occurs when a clog occurs.

If you notice that you have a clogged milk duct don’t get too worked up about it- it’s actually very common and easy to treat. However, make sure you treat the duct as soon as possible to avoid it turning into a more serious issue such as mastitis.

They can result in a temporary decrease in milk supply, which is reason enough for most moms to get them out as quickly as possible. However, since there’s often pain involved, there’s not too much more motivation that is needed!

What Causes a Clogged Milk Duct?

There are many reasons why you might be experiencing a clogged milk duct. We won’t go into these reasons in detail, but here are a few of the most common ones:

  • Overly tight fitting bra
  • Oversupply of breast milk
  • Not emptying the breast frequently
  • Baby not transferring milk efficiently
  • poor latch
  • Repetitive arm movements
  • Sleeping on the stomach

How long do clogged ducts last?

Typically, clogged milk ducts last about 1-2 days, though they can last longer. If you have a clogged duct lasting longer than two days, please consult your trusted medical professional. Any suspicious lumps should be evaluated.

Clogged ducts lasting longer than that are also at an increased risk of turning into mastitis or abscessing.

What are some signs of a clogged milk duct?

Most often, you’ll find some kind of pain in your breast. Having a sore breast is often an indicator of a clogged milk duct, even if you can’t physically palpate a lump. Some describe it is a pulling or tugging, or even like a pulled muscle.

Often, there will be some kind of hard lump due to the inflammation. Sometimes it might be a small lump, though sometimes they can be very large.

You may see some redness in the area as well. Your milk supply may have suddenly dropped, and this can often happen in the early stages before you even know you have a clogged milk duct. These can result in sore nipples and a lot of pain. It’s crazy how much trouble a tiny dot can cause!

There are also milk blisters or milk blebs, which are also obstructions. These occur in the nipple pore and typically as a small white dot – though they can be very painful. According to Kelly Mom, “It occurs when a tiny bit of skin overgrows a milk duct opening and milk backs up behind it.”

What happens if you don’t treat a clogged milk duct?

There are a few things that might happen – one, it might just go away. Some clogged milk ducts do resolve on their own simply from your baby nursing.

However, for others, it may turn into mastitis, where you’d experience flu-like symptoms. It is a breast infection and not very fun. We don’t want your clogged ducts to turn into mastitis! While uncommon, some women end up being admitted to the hospital with mastitis as they turned septic from it going untreated (I have had two friends this happen to!).

It may also turn into a breast abscess, which would require visiting with a medical professional to have it drained.


Some women are more prone to clogs than other. There are a few things you can do to fix these issues, though I do recommend working with a lactation consultant to come up with a plan.

Sunflower lecithin is a supplement that many people swear by to help prevent clogged ducts. However, recent research shows that this supplement can also cause issues with the gut, and it may be the choline in the supplement that does the most good.

In general, the best prevention is feeding on demand, not overpumping, avoiding wearing tight-fitting clothes and bras, getting enough rest, and treating any areas of engorgement.

Clogged ducts are common among breastfeeding women, but they can be fixed! I hope that this article helped you come up with some ideas that will work for you. Let us know in the comments!

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  1. I have had a clogged duct for over a month now… hasn’t lead to mastitis… it’s the size of a golf ball.. I have tried all the hacks/tricks and nothing has worked. Is this a problem? My doctor just gave me tips that I have already been trying and didn’t have much else to say. It bothers me occasionally and is more annoying than painful… I think my baby is more of a lazy eater and getting on all fours always distracts him and he doesn’t seem to suck as hard when I do this.

    1. If your doctor is aware of it and has ruled it out as being anything more than a clogged duct, and it’s not affecting your milk supply – it’s more a nuisance than anything. You could ask about ultrasound therapy to help break it up!

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