Wash baby bottles: How to keep your baby's bottles clean at home

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If you are wondering when and how to wash baby bottles and how to keep them fresh then read on to know all about it.

Irrespective of how you wash baby bottles, the only thing you need to remember is to do it immediately after each use. So you basically clean them with soap or detergent, rinse them thoroughly and dry them completely before using the bottles again. 

It’s a fairly straightforward method. But is this really the best way to keep your baby’s bottles clean? You may wonder: “Why do I need to use soap each time? Do I really need warm water? Can I reuse a wet baby bottle?” 

If you are wondering, then worry not. We’re here to answer these burning question for you. 

How to wash baby bottles: An in-depth look at the procedure  

Both your breast milk as well as formula are susceptible to bacterial contamination, which is especially true if you do not store them properly in sterilised bottles. 

This can also cause a stomach infection in your baby. That’s because his immune system and gut are not strong enough to fight off infections. 

That’s why you need to sterilise and wash baby bottles thoroughly right from when you first purchase them. Let’s begin with how you should sterilise a brand new baby bottle. 

How do I sterilise and wash baby bottles? 

While sterilising a bottle you essentially kill any existing germs. This procedure is a must for the first 12 months of your baby’s life.

So irrespective of whether you use breast milk or formula, you must make this a practice and sterilise and wash baby bottles before each use. 

Let’s take a look at some of the common methods of baby bottle sterilisation. 

1. Boiling

By boiling baby bottles you can kill any harmful germs. The high temperature doesn’t allow these tiny organisms to survive, and it leaves the bottle clean. You can follow the method listed below.

  • Place the baby bottles, nipples and caps in a big saucepan on the back burner.
  • Add water to the saucepan, enough to cover up the bottles and its additional parts. Make sure that no air bubbles form in this process. 
  • Bring the water in the saucepan to a boil, and rapidly boil for about five minutes.
  • Now turn off the stove and let it all cool down for a few minutes. 
  • With clean and sanitised hands, you can pick up the bottles from the cooled down saucepan. Make sure that the area you plan to assemble the bottles is also clean and sanitised. 
  • Take the equipment and shake off excess water.
  • If you do not wish to use the baby bottles immediately, you can assemble them (place the nipple and the lid) and store them in a container in the fridge. 
  • If you are using it again after 24 hours, make sure to follow the same procedure again.
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If you are using chemical disinfectants, leave the equipment in the solution for about 30 minutes or as indicated by the manufacturer. | Image courtesy: Pixabay

2. Chemical sterilisation

In this method, chemical disinfectants that are available as tablets and liquids are used to sterilise and wash baby bottles. Here’s how you use this method.

  • Clean the bottles, cap, nipples and the utensil you plan to do this in before you begin. 
  • You will get a manual along with the chemical steriliser that will guide you on the preparation of the liquid. Use that to prepare the mix. 
  • Again, similar to the boiling procedure, immerse the bottle and the rest of the accessories in the solution. Make sure there are no bubbles. 
  • Leave the equipment in the solution for about 30 minutes or as indicated by the manufacturer.
  • You can leave the bottle in the solution till you use it next.
  • If you use it immediately, take the bottle and other parts out and rinse and dry them completely with a clean cloth. Store it in the fridge the same way as before. 
  • Make sure you throw away the solution after 24 hours. Clean the container with some warm water and soap to remake the chemical solution.    

3. Steaming 

The final method to wash baby bottles is by steaming them. Much like the boiling method, in this method also you will use high temperatures to sterilise and clean the bottles. Here’s how you can use this procedure. 

  • For this purpose, you need to have a steam (microwave or electric steriliser). These are available in the market and even online. 
  • Clean the bottles, lids as well as nipples before you begin. Place the equipment with the opening facing down into the steriliser. 
  • You will find instructions about the amount of water you need to add and how long you need to keep it on. Follow them to a tee.
  • If you are using them immediately, follow the instructions to check how to drain or rinse and dry them. 
  • Alternatively, if you want to store them, you might want to check how to reuse the electric steriliser again.

In all these methods, you are essentially killing the germs and removing any unwanted organisms present on the bottle and its equipment. 

Now ideally you do not need to sterilise the bottle again and again. 

For the first two months you might need to sterilise them, but after that, washing the baby bottles will also keep them clean. But just to be sure, you can sterilise the bottle on and off in two weeks. 

Also, in case your baby develops thrush, you might have to sterilise the bottle before each use, especially the nipples and pacifiers. 

As far as cleaning and washing of baby bottles is concerned, you need to bear a few things in mind. 

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Any discolouration in the baby bottle indicates an accumulation of milk fat due to inadequate rinsing. | Image courtesy: Pixabay

How do I wash baby bottles and care for them?

In order to keep your baby bottles clean and sanitised, you need to keep a few key points in mind. 

  • Clean the bottle using warm water and soap after each use. Do not let the bottle sit with milk in it. Left out milk can curdle and stick to the bottle, which will make cleaning it again harder. It will also increase the possibility of germs infesting in the bottle. 
  • Try to use fragrance-free and dye-free soap in order to wash baby bottles. 

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  • Disassemble the bottle completely before you clean it. So remove the nipple as well as any other equipment you have to clean.
  • If you notice any discolouration of the bottle, try to use a fresh bottle. Usually, discolouration indicates accumulation of milk fat due to inadequate rinsing.  
  • Washing the bottles with warm water and soap will be sufficient to kill germs immediately. After disassembling the bottle, you can wash it using soap and warm water.
  • Keep a separate bottle brush and drying mat. Make sure you clean them thoroughly and regularly as well. This will ensure that grease or residue from other utensils is not passed on to the baby’s bottles. 
  • When you rinse the bottle, make sure there is no trace of soap left behind. Even minuscule specs of soap can curdle the milk and cause accidental soap poisoning.  
  • Let the bottles dry completely before use or before you put them in storage in the fridge. 

Once you have washed and sterilised the baby bottles, the next step is to rinse. 

How do you make sure baby bottles are rinsed and dried properly? 

This is a crucial step because if the bottle is not rinsed properly, residue from the soap can be left behind. And as mentioned, it can cause accidental soap poisoning. 

For this purpose, you can place each piece of the bottle under a fast yet clean water source. If the water is also boiled, it is even better. 

Make sure that the bottle feels and looks clean, and that it is soap-free.

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Once the bottles are rinsed thoroughly, place them on a clean mat or towel for air drying. This way you make sure that in a sleep-deprived state you do not knock over any parts. You should also make sure to wash these towels and mats regularly. 

Only when the bottles are completely dry should you store them away. This way you ensure that no microbial growth or moisture gets trapped within the baby bottles. 

Shelf-life of a baby bottle

As far as the shelf-life of the baby bottle is concerned, check the condition of the nipple and the bottle. Usually after three to four months you can change the nipples and use a fresh one. If you use bottle liners, make sure to toss them out after each use. Check for the following signs of wear and tear:

  • Discolouration of the nipples and the bottle.
  • If the breast milk or formula comes out as steam.
  • Thinning of the nipple. This means the nipple is weakening and needs to be changed.
  • Cracks and tears. These are a clear sign in both the nipples and the bottles that they need to be changed.

Just remember, like every sensitive object, your baby’s bottle also needs extra love and care. So make sure you are careful and thorough when it comes to cleaning those baby bottles. 

Sources: Fatherly, Pregnancy birth baby

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