Baby Bottle Cleaning

[WHY] You Should Clean and Sterilize your Baby Bottles!

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Human breast milk is filled with bacteria.

This is actually normal – there is plenty of good bacteria, that is needed to help your baby digest food and become accustomed to living outside the womb. This is bacteria that you want.

The BAD bacteria, is what grows when milk is left to spoil. This is the risk we run when we do not properly clean our bottles. If droplets are left inside a bottle, these little microbes can grow and lead to unpleasant smells, tastes and sickness for your baby.

This is exactly why babies’ bottles should be washed soon after bottle-feeding them. There’s no secret process or expensive gadget that needs to be bought to get it done; you just need to hand-wash or put them in the dishwasher.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the best ways to clean and sterilize baby bottles, as well as show some neat gadgets that help to simplify the process.

See also: Best Bottle Warmers for Formula and Frozen Breast Milk

Why is it Important to Clean my Baby’s Bottles?

The most important thing you need to understand is that it doesn’t take long for the hazardous microbes to spread and grow.

This bad bacteria can easily lead to stomach aches, vomiting, and sickness. If any of this sounds familiar, you need to pay closer attention to the way you store, handle and clean your baby bottles.

Babies are very vulnerable to infection due to their immature immune systems, which means that illness can easily cause serious problems. One way you can help your baby stay healthy is by keeping them as clean and safe from harmful bacteria as possible.

That’s why it’s important to ensure that any equipment used to feed them is cleaned well so that any bad bacterias don’t get a chance to grow in milk, which is a perfect medium for these microorganisms.

The first thing you should always keep in mind is the age-old adage: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

I’m not saying that you should go overboard, but remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry; always make sure to follow the necessary safety precautions and clean out the bottles before use.

See also: Review of Kiinde Kozii Bottle Warmer

How to Clean, Care for and Sterilize Baby Bottles

You should always clean your baby bottles immediately after use. Leaving milk to curdle in the bottle can make washing harder (and much grosser).

For cleaning baby bottles, it’s really nothing complicated: you need a small bottle brush, warm water, and soap. Or a dishwasher. What’s important, is that you rinse out the bottles immediately, and then clean them soon after.

To wash bottles by hand, assemble the items needed to do so. These include soap or dishwashing liquid, a dedicated bottle brush for cleaner scrubbing, and hot water.

A bottle brush is an essential tool for cleaning bottles, nipples, and pump parts. A simple bottle brush like this is ideal:

You can also get dishwasher cages to help keep baby bottle parts from getting lost in the dishwasher:

Disassembly is key before washing; remove everything from inside and outside of the nipple, including any liquid that may have seeped through onto other parts.

After ensuring your hands are clean, remove any leftover formula from inside of each nipple with a sponge before washing all parts in warm water and then rinsing thoroughly under running water. Make sure not to leave anything behind on the nipples themselves as this will lead to bacteria growth.

Thoroughly rinse all surfaces with hot water. Good soap and a thorough scrubbing will help kill more germs. We recommend Dapple Baby, Hypoallergenic Bottle and Dish Soap:

It’s important to dry these items after use with a drying mat or towel so they don’t get moldy in storage areas like drawers or cabinets. We particularly like drying racks like these:

If you’re seeing any discolorations on the bottles after drying or removing them from the dishwasher – these could be the result of milk fat stains. This is an indication of insufficient water, soap, or rinsing. Heat damage may also have occurred if those bottles were made of a material that were supposed to be hand-washed.

See also: Best Mini Fridges for Breast Milk

Why is it Important to Sterilize my Baby’s Bottles?

While we always advocate cleaning baby bottles immediately after use, sterilization is a different story.

Sterilization is usually excessive, as a good dish soap will generally kill off all of the bad bacterias. If you have had milk curdle in a bottle repeatedly, and you can’t seem to get the smell out, then sterilization is a good next step.

Sterilizing the bottles regularly isn’t necessary; but if your baby develops thrush, then you must sterilize all pacifiers and nipples after every feed until the infection fades away. Soap and water cannot sufficiently eliminate all the yeast of Thrush.

The CDC actually recommends sterilizing baby bottles and feeding equipment daily for infants under 3 months of age (especially if they were premature or have immune system issues).

While most parents don’t follow a daily sterilization regime, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Sterilizing the Feeding Equipment

A clean-looking bottle or teat may not be as safe for your baby. There are 3 ways to sterilize them properly: boiling, steam, and the use of chemicals. Boiling is a good but cheap option only if you’re breastfeeding occasionally, whereas using a steam sterilizer might work even better!

The Boiling Method

To make sure that you never have to spend your entire day scrubbing germs off of bottles and nipples, soak all the parts in a large saucepan filled with tap water.

Make sure there are no air bubbles trapped inside before covering them completely under the water and bringing it up to a boil for 5 minutes.

After boiling everything, let them cool on their own while submerged in cold tap water; this will ensure they’re safe from contamination at every touchpoint until you put them back into storage – this should always happen as soon as possible after use.

Steam Sterilization Method

Steam sterilizers are a quick, cheap, and effective way to clean your baby’s bottles. They heat water until it boils in a small container with the bottle parts, which kills all of the bacteria present. Some steamers are just specialized enclosed trays that you fill with water and put in the microwave.

Here are some examples of our favorites:

Philips Avent Microwave Steam Sterilizer

  • Uses tap water to create steam in the microwave
  • Sterilizes baby bottles and other baby products in just 2 minutes
  • Measures 6.5 by 11 inches, it fits in most microwave ovens;
  • Safety clips keep the lid securely closed
  • Side grips stay cool for safe handling
  • Compact design makes it ideal for traveling
  • Holds 4 bottles at once
  • Keeps contents sterile and ready for their next use for up to 24 hours (if the lid is unopened)

Philips Avent 3-in-1 Electric Steam Sterilizer

  • Uses tap water to sterilize, plugs into a typical outlet
  • Sterilizes in just 6 minutes
  • Automatically shuts off to save energy and for safety
  • 3-in-1 modular design fits a variety of bottles, pacifiers, pumps, and accessories. You can remove sections to make it smaller if desired!
  • Takes up minimal countertop space
  • Versatile: Holds up to 6 bottles at once
  • Keeps contents sterile and ready for their next use for up to 24 hours (if the lid is unopened)

Dr. Browns Deluxe Bottle Sterilizer

  • Auto Shut-Off feature
  • Designed so steam is properly directed into each bottle
  • The accessory tray holds bottle parts, nipples, and pacifiers.
  • Larger! 13.3 x 12.8 x 10 inches
  • Includes tongs and measuring cup.

Chemical Sterilization Method

Be careful when using chemical sterilization. Many methods use bleach, which can also irritate the skin if spilled, which can cause your clothes to fade after prolonged exposure. Antibacterial solutions are available in liquid or tablet form and should be prepared accordingly.

To sterilize your baby’s bottles and feeding equipment, place them in a container large enough to hold all of the items.

Fill with tap water up to ¾ full before adding the recommended amount of liquid disinfectant solution – make sure it doesn’t overflow.

Submerge everything into this soapy mix for at least 15 minutes then rinse off any excess soap with clean running water when done. Leave 24 hours between each batch being prepared.

See also: Glass vs Plastic vs Silicone Baby Bottles – Pros and Cons

Wash your Hands before Handling Sterilized Bottles and Feeding Equipment

Finally, before handling sterilized bottles and teats, you should ensure that your hands are thoroughly washed.

If they are not clean before coming into contact with the equipment, it is easier for germs on your skin to stick onto the surface of these items, which can contaminate it and transfer the germs to the milk upon the next feeding.

See also: Power Pumping: Can It Enhance Your Milk Supply?


While it is not strictly necessary to always sterilize your baby bottles, it is quite necessary to always clean your baby bottles after each use.

We most recommend cleaning the bottles immediately after they are emptied, rather than letting the milk dry and spoil, creating a gross mess and making cleaning take far longer than needed.

See also: Best Affordable Breast Pump Bags

We hope you have found this article to be useful and interesting. If you have another method or device that you prefer for cleaning or sterilizing your baby bottles, let us know in the comments!

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