Making sure your baby is clean, well-fed, healthy and safe is a full time job, the stress of which increases exponentially when you’ve never done it before. One of the most important tasks for every parent is making sure your baby bottles are clean. Make no mistake, this is a chore that absolutely needs to be done properly; in the first-year babies’ immune systems are not fully formed, so they are much more susceptible to food poisoning and other bacterial infections that could grow in a bottle that is not sufficiently cleaned.
This guide will explain all the steps to cleaning your baby’s bottles right, so you have at least one less thing to worry about. Let’s jump right into it!
Wash your hands
Wash your hands with soap under hot water for at least 20 seconds before feeding your baby or handling a bottle. This will eliminate the vast majority of any bacteria your baby may be exposed to, so it is a step that cannot be neglected. Your baby is far more likely to get sick from an infection transmitted through skin-to-skin contact than anything from a bottle, so hand washing is one of the most important habits to form as a parent. Make sure you use an anti-bacterial soap, preferably one that is gentle, to minimize the stress ato your skin.
Get the right supplies
For starters, you’ll need hot water and good dish soap. I highly recommend dish soap designed specifically for baby bottles because they are gentle and non-toxic, and won’t leave a soapy residue on or inside the bottle. A normal dish soap can be used as well, just make sure to get out all the soap before usage!
You’ll also need a quality bottle brush, like Dr. Brown’s Bottle Brush. This brush is great because not only does it have a combination sponge and bristle-brush head for cleaning the inside of the bottle, it also has a specially designed nipple-cleaning head at the bottom of the brush. It even comes with its own stand so you can store it safely and sanitarily right next to the sink.
The brush should be used exclusively on your baby’s bottles, as you don’t want to clean your baby’s bottles with the same utensils you use on all your other dishes. This brush is the top selling baby bottle brush on Amazon, which says quiet a bit about it’s excellent quality.
Last, make sure you have tongs you can use to move your bottles from the sink to dry without actually touching them. Sterilize your tongs before each use to ensure they are germ-free.
Wash your bottles and accessories by hand
First, thoroughly rinse your sink; to ensure that your bottles are as sanitary as possible it is important to make sure you have no gunk or residue in the sink you’re using to clean them. You can even use a little baking soda if you need a natural disinfectant.
Once the sink is sufficiently clean, fill it with hot, soapy water and make sure you completely disassemble your bottles, nipples, rings, caps and preparation utensils before you wash them. Using your brush, pour hot, soapy water into the bottle and rotate the brush around inside until it is clean. Rinse all the soap off thoroughly under running water.
Use the nipple brush to clean out the nipples, and pay special attention to the nipple holes. You can squeeze hot soapy water through the nipple to make sure you get any milk residue that may be trapped inside. Make sure you rinse everything thoroughly, as soap residue could make your baby ill. Finally, use sanitized tongs to remove all of your clean bottles and supplies and place them in a drying rack in a well-ventilated location.
Make sure they dry thoroughly; damp accessories are much more susceptible to mold, mildew and fungus.
Can I wash my bottles in the dishwasher?
So you’re into the efficiency and convenience of modern household appliances, are you? Check the manufacturer’s label before throwing them in there, but generally the answer is yes, you can wash your bottles and supplies in the dishwasher. Be certain to put everything on the top rack; you can buy a basket for the nipples and accessories at most baby supply stores. And ALWAYS wash your bottles on a hot water cycle (or sanitize cycle if your dishwasher has it) with a heated dry.
Sterilize your babies’ bottles
Bottle manufacturers generally recommend that you sterilize your bottles before the first use. You can purchase an electric steam bottle sterilizer or a microwave steam sterilizer from Amazon. Both types of sterilizers submerge the bottles in steam heated to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, which kills 99% of all germs.
The difference is that the electric sterilizer plugs into the wall, while you put the microwave sterilizer in the microwave. If a bottle sterilizer doesn’t fit in the budget you can also submerge your bottles in boiling water for three to five minutes. This works best with glass bottles, though you can also boil plastic bottles as long as they are BPA free.
Beyond the first use, studies have shown that a thorough cleaning with soap and water once a day is enough to kill 99% of germs as long as the water is drinkable, but if you ever have to use unpotable water (like well water) you should sterilize after each use. A bottle sterilizer is an important tool to make sure your bottles are safe to use, especially if you’re not sure about the water you’re using.
Washing bottles on the go
When travelling with your baby, preparation is key. Carry your bottle brush and a small bottle of dish soap with you, and you can wash your bottles in any clean sink. Bring disposable plastic bottle liners so you only have to bring one bottle, and you can use an electric tea kettle to ensure the water you wash with is hot enough. You can also get a portable microwave sterilizer in case you’re not sure the water that you use to wash is drinkable.
That’s everything there is to cleaning baby bottles! Best of luck!