There’s no argument that baby bottles are one of the most important necessities for infant feeding. And proper cleaning of these feeding bottles goes a long way to keeping your baby safe.

Washing baby bottles may seem like a straightforward task… until you become a mom yourself…

With six to eight feedings a day, not forgetting all the nooks and crannies in the bottles that’s impossible for your hands to reach…

How are you going to effectively and safely wash the infant bottles to make sure that clean bottles are ready for the next feeding just when you need it?

Not to mention, washing baby milk bottles is not the only task on hand, with a thousand other things calling for your attention…

We want to make it easy for you, and now, let’s take a look at the best way to clean baby bottles (in our opinion) that we’ve prepared for you:

6 Steps to Squeaky-Clean Baby Bottles

The Best Way To Clean Baby Bottles - Step By Step Guide

  1. Dissemble and rinse

Always try to clean or at least rinse off the residual milk as soon as possible after each feeding. Even if you intend to wash the bottles in batches, always rinse off the residue milk first before setting the bottles aside.

Baby milk, which is warm and high in sugar content, is the perfect condition for bacterial growth. You also wouldn’t want your bottle to reek of foul smelling sour milk.

Some bottles, such as Dr. Brown’s Original Bottle, has more parts and attachments than others. Always dissemble the parts first so that you can rinse them thoroughly.

  1. Soak in warm soapy water

I prefer to use a big roomy glass bowl, rather than soaking them in the kitchen sink directly.

As we’re using the sink for many other purposes, it may contain germs and bacteria that could contaminate these baby feeding items.

Fill the wash bowl with hot water and add a few drops of the liquid detergent. Soak the bottles, attachments/parts and other preparation utensils in the soapy water for a few minutes. Remember to soak all the parts, including the caps, nipples, rings and teats.

You may use a mild dish detergent, but if your budget allows, I’d suggest you use a detergent specially formulated for washing baby items.

The Dapple brand baby bottle dish liquid is unscented and made of natural ingredients, free of phthalates, parabens, SLS, SLES, dyes and preservatives. It is able to effectively remove the milk residence and odor.

If you have sensitive skin, you wouldn’t have to worry as it is mild on your hands too.

  1. Scrub

Bottle brush is an absolute must when it comes to bottle cleaning.

There’s no way your hand can fit into the narrow bottle to reach all the nooks and crannies. So you need a special baby bottle brush to get inside the bottle, give it a thorough scrub to remove any crusty or filmy layer left behind by the milk residue.

You won’t be able to do it with a normal sponge or towel…

I like the OXO Tot Bottle Brush with Nipple Cleaner and Stand.

The Oxo bottle brush has 2 types of bristles (soft and firm), which makes it stiff enough for serious scrubbing, yet flexible enough for gentle cleaning.

The flexible neck also allows for easy reach deep inside the bottles of various shapes and sizes. The brush handle features a soft, comfortable non-slip grip that won’t slip out of your wet soapy hands.

Moreover, it comes with a silicone nipple cleaner, which is ideal for cleaning tight spaces such as the bottle nipples and breast bump parts. The nipple cleaner can be popped inside the handle when not in use.

Milk is easily trapped in the nipple hole, so special efforts are needed. Use a nipple brush and also try to squeeze the hot soapy water through the nipple hole to flush out any residue milk.

The OXO bottle brush also comes with a stand. By drying and storing the bottle brush in an upright position, you do not have to worry about the brush getting dirtied or contaminated (as compared to letting it lie on the countertop).

Your countertop will be kept neat and dry as the stand also has a pour pout, which can be taken apart easily for cleaning. There are also ventilation holes to help the nipple cleaner air dry quickly.

When it comes to cleaning, both the Oxo Bottle Brush and Stand are dishwasher safe.

I would highly recommend you to limit the use of the infant bottle brush to just cleaning your infant feeding items. I always try to separate the cleaning equipment for the baby feeding items and our own general use so that I’m not transferring any germs and bacteria from the kitchen dish sponge.

  1. Rinse again

Thoroughly rinse all the baby bottle parts and utensils under water to remove all traces of soap.

  1. Dry

Allow the baby bottle parts and utensils to air dry thoroughly.

You can place the bottle parts, preparation and cleaning utensils on an unused dish towel or drying rack in an environment away from dirt and dust. I wouldn’t use the dish towel to rub or pat the items dry because doing so may transfer germs to the items.

The Boon Grass Countertop Drying Rack is what I use for this drying purpose.

First of all, it looks great in our kitchen. It can easily hold items of various shapes and sizes upright for drying while the excess water is drained into the bottom tray, which is removable for cleaning.

It is not a specialized bottle drying rack, so you can continue using it as a drying rack for a long time. The only downside is that it is not dishwasher safe, so you will need to hand-wash it in warm soap water periodically.

As with other baby products that we like, it is BPA free, phthalate free and PVC free.

  1. Store

Finally, find a clean and dry place in your kitchen or pantry to store all of the bottle parts so they stay clean and organized until you need them.

You can make use of separate plastic containers or stackable clear plastic drawers to store the nipples, bottle parts and bottles neatly.

IMPORTANT: Always remember to wash your hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling (preparing or washing) the baby bottles or feeding your baby.

Last but not least, do not forget to clean the wash basin and bottle brush.

Rinse them well and air dry them.

If you have a dishwasher and the cleaning equipment are dishwasher-safe, do wash them in the dishwater with hot water and a heated drying cycle every few days. Alternatively, wash them with hot soapy water.

Is It Necessary to Sterilize the Baby Bottles?

Do you remember the older days when our mom or grandma would wash and sterilize bottles with hot boiling water?

Those were the days when water supplies were not reliably clean….

Today, sterilizing bottles every time is mostly unnecessary, unless you suspect that your water supply is unreliable, or if you’re using well water.

In fact, many paediatricians feel that dishwashers (especially those with hot, sanitizing rinse functions) or scrubbing with hot soapy water is good enough.

However, you should sterilize the bottles after removing them from the packaging, before the first usage.

You might also consider sterilizing your bottles more frequently when your child is sick and after he/she gets well,  or if your baby has low immunity or premature, just to be on the safe side.

How Do I Sterilize the Infant Bottles?

A baby bottle sterilizer is not really necessary especially if budget is a concern.

To sterilize the baby bottles, you can soak the bottles, nipples and parts in a pot of clean boiling water for five minutes and remove them with a sanitized tongs. Avoid boiling them over the stove for safety reasons.

But if you would like to get a baby bottle sterilizer, here’s what we think are best bottle sterilizers:

Best bottle sterilizer for microwave use: Philips AVENT Microwave Steam Sterilizer
This simple no-frill sterilizer requires one of the shortest sterilizing time of just 2 minutes, while eliminating 99.9% of harmful bacteria. It is big enough to accommodate up to 4 bottles, or a combination of breast pump parts or pacifiers, and should fit most microwaves. It has a small footprint and is very lightweight.

Best electric bottle sterilizer: Papablic Baby Bottle Electric Steam Sterilizer and Dryer

This electric bottle sterilizer and dryer makes use of steam to sterilize in 8 minutes and hot air to dry in 40 minutes. It has a huge capacity (and hence a bigger footprint) to hold up to 11 bottles and other accessories, so it is really good if you have twins or multiple kids. Very importantly, it’s also easy to take apart for cleaning and has an automatic shut-off function making it safe to use.

Can I Wash the Baby Bottles in a Dishwasher?

Yes. If you have a dishwasher that operates a sanitizing rinse cycle, it is safe for you to wash and dry the baby bottles using the heated water and a hot drying cycle.

You can check out the NSF/ANSI 184 certification here.

First, dissemble the bottle parts and rinse them to remove the residual milk. Place the bottles on the top rack of the dishwasher and the nipples, small parts, and attachments in a dishwasher basket in the top rack.

Also, before you load anything into the dishwasher, do check the manufacturer label to make sure that the items are dishwasher safe.

Babies are highly dependent on bottles for their nourishment in their first year of life, before moving to solid foods.

Both breast milk and formula milk are susceptible to bacterial contamination if not handled properly. At the same time, babies are more susceptible to infections compared to us adults as their immune system are not fully developed just yet.

Hence, proper cleaning of infant feeding bottles is very important and must not be overlooked.

Having the right tools for the parents is equally crucial to effectively and quickly complete the bottle cleaning job as there are so many other tasks that await you, busy parents!