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How to keep your baby's bottles clean

June 11, 2018—Do you use a bottle to feed your baby breast milk or formula? Like any dish or utensil, baby bottles get dirty when you use them. And if you only rinse a used bottle, germs could grow inside of it and make your baby sick.

That's why it's important to clean your baby's bottles (and the bottles' nipples, rings, caps and other parts) after every feeding. But how? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips:

Use the dishwasher, if you have one. For bottles labeled "dishwasher safe," follow these steps:

  1. Take the bottle apart.
  2. Rinse the parts under running water (either cold or warm is fine).
  3. Put the parts in the dishwasher.
  4. Run the dishwasher. If you can, use hot water and a heated drying cycle. (Look for these settings on the front of the dishwasher.)
  5. When the dishwasher is finished, wash your hands with soap and water for about 20 seconds and remove the bottle parts. If the parts are not dry, put them on a clean dish towel or paper towel to air dry. (Don't dry them with a hand towel. It's possible to spread germs to the bottle this way.)

No dishwasher? No problem. You can wash your baby's bottle by hand—but don't put the items directly in the sink. Instead, use a washbasin (they look like plastic tubs and are sold at many stores) and a bottlebrush.

Follow these steps:

  1. Wash your hands, then take the bottle apart.
  2. Rinse the parts under running water.
  3. Put the items in the washbasin and scrub with hot, soapy water. Scrub them with a clean brush that is only used on baby bottles and accessories. Tip: Squeeze water through the bottle nipple holes to get them clean.
  4. Rinse the items again under running water.
  5. Put them on a clean towel to let them air-dry.

Rinse the basin and brush after each use. Wash them every few days, in a dishwasher or by hand. And don't use them to clean other dishes.

Should you sanitize?

Sometimes a baby's bottle may need to be sanitized, which isn't the same as cleaning. Sanitizing helps kill germs—soap and water removes them. Some very young babies (under 3 months old), premature babies or babies with a weak immune system may need the extra protection. Ask your baby's doctor if and when you should sanitize bottles.

Keep in mind that there's usually no need to sanitize your baby's feeding things if you used a dishwasher with hot water and a heated drying cycle.

But should you need to sanitize your baby's bottle, boil the parts in a covered pot for five minutes. Use kitchen tongs to safely remove the items. You can also use boiling water to sanitize your washbasin and bottlebrush if the manufacturer recommends it.

Beyond bottles

Whether you're a new parent or just need a refresher, our Babies health topic center is full of tips to help your little one stay healthy and happy.

A woman standing in front of a blue wall, holding up her baby. Text reads: Keep your baby happy and healthy by learning proper washing techniques for bottles.

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