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5 effective ways to sanitize pacifiers and bottles

Your sweet little milk chugger goes through bottles like they’re going out of style. And those dirty glass and plastic vessels pile up in the kitchen sink every day and every night. New parent life — it sure is glamorous, isn’t it? Sanitizing bottles. Cleaning pacifiers. You will want to tackle that dirty load sooner than later; the last thing you want to be doing at 3 a.m. is scrubbing the inside of a dirty bottle so that your baby can eat. What’s more, keeping your baby’s bottles and pacifiers clean will help ensure your little one won’t get sick from hidden germs or bacteria.

Want to know how to sanitize pacifiers, bottles, and nipples? Read on for all our top tips and tricks.

boiling bottles
Summer Photographer/ Shutterstock

When to sterilize

No, you do not need to sterilize a bottle between every use, nor do you need to perpetually pop your baby’s beloved pacifier in a boiling pot of water. Regular washing and rinsing should suffice. However, there are some circumstances that warrant a thorough sterilizing process:

  • If your baby is born prematurely or has a weakened immune system, you should sterilize bottles before use, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some doctors also recommend sterilizing bottles for babies up to 3 months of age.
  • A baby’s immune system is a bit stronger at around 3 months, so if you have been regularly sanitizing bottles and pacifiers, you can consider stopping at this point. When in doubt, talk to your child’s pediatrician for further guidance.
  • You should consider sterilizing bottles and pacifiers before you give them to your baby the first time to ensure they are completely clean and germ-free. This is especially pertinent if you are using old ones from a previous baby or secondhand options. Be sure that any hand-me-down bottles or pacifiers are free of BPA.
  • Sterilize Baby’s bottles or pacifiers after an illness to eradicate any lurking bacteria or germs.
  • If you use well water or do not have access to clean, fresh water, you should consider sterilizing bottles and pacifiers between uses.
  • Regular sanitation can wear on bottles, nipples, and pacifiers, so inspect these items often and discontinue use if and when their integrity is compromised.

Boil bottles and pacifiers

There’s a low-tech but highly effective method of cleaning pacifiers and sanitizing bottles — boil them in water. Here’s how:

  • First, wash bottles regularly with dish soap and water and rinse pacifiers
  • Add all your bottles, bottle parts, nipples, and pacifiers into a large pot
  • Add water, making sure that everything is fully submerged
  • Turn on the stove, and bring the water to a boil
  • Keep the bottles in the boiling water for approximately five minutes
  • Carefully remove them
  • Place bottles upside down on a rack or clean cloth; leave everything out to air-dry

Try a microwave sterilizer

A microwave bottle steam sterilizer is a great and affordable option for easily and efficiently cleaning bottles and pacifiers. It encloses bottle parts and traps steam to fully sanitize everything. Here’s how to use one:

  • Fill bottles halfway with water
  • Put them in your system
  • Put the unit in a clean microwave — (sorry to say, you can’t skip this step!)
  • Microwave on a high setting for about a minute and a half
  • Remove (they will be hot — so use caution), pour out any remaining water, and dry
sanitizing pacifiers
Arunsawat/ Shutterstock

Use an electric steam sanitizer

If you plan on sanitizing bottles frequently, an electric steam sanitizer will come in handy. Simply place bottles inside and follow the model’s instructions. The temperature of the steam produced is higher than that of boiling water, so this is a super-effective, quick, and convenient option. Most steam sterilizers complete a cycle within a few minutes — easy-breezy.

Put them in the dishwasher

Don’t want to spend hours scrubbing your bottles by hand? Run them in the dishwasher if you have one. While you should always check manufacturer instructions, most bottles can be cleaned on the hottest washing and drying cycles. FYI, this is pretty much akin to sterilizing.

Sterilize with a bleach solution as a backup method

Believe it or not, you can sanitize bottles and pacifiers with cold water by using a specific sanitizing tablet or solution. As advised by the CDC, if you are unable to steam with heat (the preferable methods listed above), you can soak items in 2 teaspoons of unscented bleach diluted in 1 gallon of water for about two minutes or more.

Intuitively, you will want to rinse afterward, but this can actually reintroduce germs. Instead, let items air-dry. Again, this is an alternative method to use as needed — if you have access to a dishwasher, boiling water, or a steam-sanitizing system, you can skip this altogether.

Washing bottles is part of the parenting gig. You’ll have to scrub between uses regardless of whether you decide to sanitize them regularly or not. While a steam sanitizer — either a microwave or electric option — can make this process a little easier, you can also choose to boil them or just place them in your standard dishwasher top rack.

Baby’s health is of the utmost importance, and having clean pacifiers and bottles at the ready will streamline this chore. You will be thankful you did your sanitizing due diligence when you can just pop that binky or nipple in your babe’s mouth without worry.

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Lauren Barth
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Lauren Barth is a freelance writer and digital editor with over a decade of experience creating lifestyle, parenting, travel…
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