How to Clean Baby Bottles – The 5 Essential Steps

Figuring out how to clean baby bottles is one of the first duties you will encounter as a new parent. It’s a basic but important task; protecting your baby from harmful bacteria which can give them food poisoning. New-born babies are more at risk of infection as their immune system is still developing.

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But it’s not all doom and gloom! By using the right equipment and technique you will quickly develop a cleaning routine that will become second nature in no time. We’ve written this guide to help you get started, check it out.

How to Clean Baby Bottles

1. Wash

You should try and clean the bottle as soon after use as possible. The warm, sugary environment of baby milk is the perfect environment for bacteria to rapidly grow.

Dissemble – some bottles will have more parts than others (e.g. Dr Browns bottles). Ensure you take apart the whole bottle according to the instruction manual.

Rinse – Rinse off any visible milk from the bottles and set aside.

Soak – Fill the sink with hot water and 2 drops of dish detergent added. Allow the parts to soak for a few minutes in the soapy water. Remember to soak all the parts including caps, rings and teats.

Recommended: Dapple Baby Bottle & Dish Liquid

It’s perfectly safe to use a mild dish detergent for washing your baby bottles. However if it’s in your budget, we recommend using one designed for washing baby equipment. The Dapple brand will leave your bottles perfectly clean as it leaves no scent residue or film on your washed bottles. If you have sensitive skin it’s really mild on your hands. It’s fragrance free, as well as free of other chemical nasties including free of phthalates, parabens, SLS, SLES, dyes and preservatives. This soap is great for cleaning food equipment for older kids too, even tackling that annoying film left by tomato based sauces!

2. Scrub

Use a baby bottle brush to get into all those curves and edges which easily harbour those germs. A bottle brush allows you to effectively scrub off any milk residue which wasn’t removed by rinsing or soaking.

Bottle: Use the larger side and place all the bristles into the bottle. Move the brush with a half circle rotation to remove all the milk within the bottle. Clean the inside neck by pulling the brush in and out for a few motions.

Small parts: Use the smaller bristles on the opposite end to scrub into any small areas not reached by the larger bristles. Ensure the teat is cleaned inside with this end. If your bottles have numerous small parts make sure all milk is removed.

Dishwasher: It is safe for you use a dishwasher to clean your baby bottles. You may want to do teats manually to ensure they are thoroughly clean. Also ensure any small parts are placed on top in a dishwasher basket so they don’t get lost or damaged in the machine.

When washing ensure none of the parts have deep scratches, splits or cracks as bacteria can survive in these parts, even after sanitation. Once you are happy all the milk is off the bottle, you should rinse all the parts with running water to remove all of the soapy water inside and out of all the parts.

Recommended: OXO Tot Bottle Brush

This bottle brush has it all in one, a bottle brush with a nipple brush hidden in the handle and a stand to hold it. The bristles are nice and soft so won’t leave cleaning scratches on your bottles. Plus it’s made entirely of BPA free plastic which won’t rust, unlike other bottle brushes. The stand is vented so any excess water will run out and won’t stagnate in the bottom of the stand. If you’re fed up of low quality bottle brushes falling apart or not cleaning properly, give this one a try.

3. Sterilize

Baby bottles don’t need sterilized after every wash (advice given by American Academy of Pediatrics) however modern methods make the process simpler than ever. It’s an extra assurance for parents to ensure all the bacteria is removed.

There are three main methods of sterilization:

Boiling – This is a traditional method where you boil the bottles in a large pan for at least 10 minutes. This method is less common now as it’s not recommended to boil plastic bottles. This method is more suitable if you use glass bottles.

Cold water sterilizers – If you travel a lot or don’t have access to a microwave or an electricity supply, then this method is for you. Using a bucket or lidded tub, fill with sterilizing solution which you will soak the bottles in. You will need to sterilize the parts for at least 30 minutes and change the fluid every 24 hours.

Microwave/ steam sterilize – The quickest and easiest method of sterilization is to steam the bottles in the microwave or with an electric sterilizer. With a water filled sterilizer or steam bags, your bottles can be sterilized in around 5 minutes. As steam is used, there is not chemical aftertaste or smell from the process.

Recommended: Tommee Tippee Microwave Sterilizer

This sterilizer is large and roomy enough to fit a lot of equipment. It will accommodate any baby bottle around 5inches tall (9oz bottles) as well as pacifier, and breast pump parts. Simply pop in a small measure of water and pop into the microwave for 4-8 minutes, and that’s sanitation taken care of. It also comes with some small tongs to transfer your bottles to a drying rack or storage, preventing re-contamination from your hands.

Milton Sterilizing Tablets

These tablets are highly rated, and the method of choice by a lot of hospitals. They will kill off bacteria, viruses, fungi and spores. If you have a thrush infection they are fantastic for removing any contamination from your feeding utensils or pump parts. They can also be used for various other house hold tasks, including soaking clothes to remove stubborn stains.

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4. Dry

Depending on whether you choose to sterilize your bottles or not, you may want to go straight to drying the bottles after washing. Air drying is considered the best method for baby bottles, as dish towels can transmit bacteria. Using a drying rack for only baby equipment will keep them sterile for longer. We also recommend using sterile tongs to transfer the clean bottles to the drying rack.

Recommended: Boon Lawn Drying Rack

We love this drying rack, it really brightens up any kitchen with a little bit of greenery (albeit plastic!). It comes with two pieces, the grass for holding bottles in place and the reservoir to collect any water drips. It’s deceptively small as it can hold so much equipment. It can be easily cleaned by hand or in a dishwasher so no harbouring bacteria between washes. You can also purchase separate flower and twig accessory’s to place nipples, pacifiers and lids on to increase the drying capacity. When not in use your friends will think it’s cute kitchen decor.

5. Store

Once your bottles are clean and sterile, you will want to store them until the next use. A bottle storage organizer is the best option if you don’t intend on using bottles regularly enough to keep in the sterilizer or on the drying rack. Again use the sterile tongs to transfer the bottles form the drying rack or sterilizer and into the organizer.

Recommended: PRK Baby Bottle Organizer

If you like your cupboards to be nice and neat then get this organizer. It comes highly recommended by moms, because it makes bottle storage so easy. It a universal sizes to fit up to 12 the most popular baby bottles. Its super sturdy and keep your bottles organized enough to stop them falling out the cupboard every time you open it. When baby moves on from bottles you can also use it to store sippy cups and lids.