Do you really need to sterilize baby bottles? We have the answers you need to safely and effectively clean baby bottles.
When babies come into the world, you’re immediately bombarded with opinions and advice from everyone. From swaddling and baby food to tummy time and bottle feeding, it’s impossible to keep up with everything you’re expected to do. However, one thing should be easy: learning the easiest, simplest way to clean your baby bottles.
Just like you wash your drinking glasses and silverware, it’s important to make sure the baby bottles around your home are getting cleaned and sanitized properly. Whether your bottles are getting filled with breast milk or formula, knowing how to clean baby bottles is both essential and easy.
4 easy steps to clean baby bottles after each use
Step #1 -- Get ready
Wash your hands with a gentle hand soap, and then take apart and rinse each piece of the bottle, setting the rinsed pieces on a clean towel. Milk can get caught in all pieces of the bottles, so be sure to separate each different component -- from nipple to valve to cap -- and rinse them separately.
If your bottles are dishwasher-safe, then you can place them on the top rack of the dishwasher and wash on a hot setting with a heated drying cycle. We recommend Philips Avent Natural Glass Baby Bottles, as one of our company co-founders has found them particularly durable and easy to clean in the dishwasher while taking care of his infant twins. He uses the 4-ounce bottles until his kids reach about five months of age, and then he switches over to the 8-ounce bottles.
If you plan to clean your baby bottles in the dishwasher, then we also recommend using Puracy Natural Dishwasher Detergent Packs. They contain special enzymes that break down milk and formula proteins while not using any synthetic fragrance or dyes. Using our dishwasher detergent and placing all bottle parts on the top rack is the quickest way to ensure everything gets clean. However, please first make sure the bottle you use is approved for dishwasher cleaning.
If you’re a hand washer, then you’ll want to have a bucket or container that you only use to wash baby bottles -- you never want to wash baby items directly in the sink to avoid contamination. Go ahead and fill that container up with warm, soapy water and drop the bottle parts in. We recommend using Puracy Natural Baby Dish Soap for this step.
Step #2 -- Scrub a dub dub
While the bottles are hanging out in your container of soapy water, scrub them with a brush that you only use for cleaning baby bottles. Dr. Brown’s Bottle Brush is a good option to consider. You’ll want to keep an eye out to make sure there are no clumps of formula or congealed pieces of milk left on the bottles, and scrub until they’re clean. Since the nipples are notoriously hard to get clean, it’s often helpful to squeeze water through them. You may consider a special nipple brush to ensure every surface is agitated with soapy water.
If your bottles have a residual smell to them -- totally normal! -- there are a couple of natural remedies that work well. You can shake hot water and vinegar or hot water and baking soda in the bottles during your clean. Just be sure to rinse them and then wash them with a gentle dish soap afterwards.
It’s also important to rinse off and wash your soapy container and brush, as well. While you should rinse them out and let them air dry each time they’re used, it’s also a good idea to put the brush and container through a dishwashing cycle every few days, if possible. If you have an infant under three months old, a premature baby, or a baby with a weakened immune system, the CDC recommends washing the basin and brush after each and every use.
Step #3 -- Hang ‘em out to dry
Once you’ve rinsed all of the soap off of your baby bottles (or taken them out of the dishwasher), shake them over the sink to shed any loose water droplets, then lay them to dry on a clean towel or baby bottle drying rack that’s in an area protected from dirt and dust. Make sure they’re all the way dry before you store them away to avoid mildew or mold growth. A classic mistake that many parents make is re-assembling and storing baby bottles while there is still moisture inside the bottle.
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Step #4 -- Take it one step further: sanitize
For extra germ killing, you may want to sanitize used bottles daily -- especially when you have an infant, a premature baby, or one with a weakened immune system. We also always recommend sanitizing new bottles before using them for the first time. For older babies with strong immune systems, you do not need to sanitize their bottles on a regular basis as long as you are diligently following our recommended cleaning regimen.
After following the steps for cleaning above, there is a simple way to sanitize your bottles (but be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions). Just boil the bottles in a clean pot of water for 5 minutes, remove with a clean pair of tongs, and then lay them out to dry (following manufacturer's instructions).
On vacation? Here’s how to clean baby bottles while traveling
If you’re traveling with baby, then you can ideally follow the same cleaning instructions, just in a different sink with a clean container. Take some soap and a bottle brush along with you, and enjoy yourself!
When babies are little, it’s nerve wracking to get everything right. However, things like washing and sanitizing baby bottles can be a little easier with a product like Puracy Natural Baby Dish Soap that is gentle on your hands and strong for your baby. Meanwhile, Puracy Natural Baby Multi-Surface Cleaner will keep all of your surfaces clean and sanitary, and just remember: you’re doing great!