How Do You Sterilize Baby Bottles?

Before you use any of the following sterilizing methods, make sure you clean out every last trace of old milk, and milk residue with a bottle brush, dish washing liquid and warm water. This is important, because if there are any leftover milk, germs can feed on it and grow.

The following methods have their own advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I feel the boiling method is definitely the best. However, you do whatever feels best for your situation.

The Famous Boiling Method

How Does It Work?

This is probably one of the most commonly used method around the world to sterilize baby bottles. It is the most straightforward and cheap, if not the cheapest. The idea is to boil your bottles until the bacteria are completely killed, or inactivated.

How Long Should You Boil Your Bottles?

Despite what you might hear from your relatives and friends, you only need to boil your bottles for one minute. Just make sure your water is already boiling before you put your bottles in. While the bottles are boiling, I highly recommend you use a pair of tongs to swirl your bottles around in the boiling water to remove any air pockets so that your bottles can be cleaned evenly. This applies to bottle nipples too.

If you want to play it safe, then boil them for 3 minutes. That is it. Any more and you risk altering the shape of your bottle. The problem with bottles that has been boiled out of shape is that they start leaking. Unless you want to buy new bottles, I highly recommend against going past 3 minutes.

The bottle nipples are at higher risk of heat damage because they are so soft. Stop around one minute for the bottle nipples. Another risk of boiling too long is that your bottles and nipples will start changing color.

Does It Matter Where You Live?

No, you can be living underground next to a dinosaur, or freezing your butt off on top of Mount Everest. As long your water is boiling before you put your bottles in, it would kill and inactivate almost anything that is in there. The reason that is the case is because microorganisms start dying, inactivating, denaturing (proteins), at a temperature (160o F) much lower than boiling temperature (212o F).

You guessed it, water boils at around 160o F at the tip of Mount Everest which is practically one of the highest place on earth. As you know, the higher you are in altitude, the less heat it takes to boil water. In other words, the boiling water at a higher height is always colder than boiling water at a lower height. However, when it comes to making your bottles safe for babies, that does not matter.

By The Way, Boiling Is Not Sterilizing

Technically speaking, boiling your bottles is not a type of sterilization method. It is considered a form of pasteurizing. It is still a perfectly safe method. It is only technical trivia. like how strawberries are not considered berries. The reason this matters is because boiling water only kills 99.9999999% of the microorganisms in the bottle. Your baby’s stomach acid, digestive juices from the small intestines, and immune system will take care of the rest.

Not to mention, the bacteria spores that don’t get killed are usually harmless to human beings. In addition to that, everything else is either killed, or inactivated like viruses, bacteria, protozoans, etc. If you want to learn more about that, you can visit the government website for more information.

The Modern Microwave Method

Microwaves Can’t Kill Germs By Themselves

Despite what many people make you believe, microwave does not kill most microorganisms by itself. In other words, you can not simply use your microwave oven to sterilize your baby bottles.

You Need Extra Equipment

You need to purchase an extra microwave steam sterilizer or sterilizing bags. The names sounds fancy, but they are nothing more than microwave safe box and bags. The way they work is that after you thoroughly washed out all the old milk from your bottles, you dump your bottles into your steam sterilizer, add water, dump then into your microwave, then start the timer. Just don’t forget to have some water in the bottles too so the steam can thoroughly clean in the insides.

Why Bother Buying Microwave Steam Sterilizers?

This equipment sounds like a waste of money right. However, this depends on the situation. Let’s say you are out on a trip, and your stove is not available to you. This tool would be perfect for you.

Another advantage of the microwave steam sterilizer is that it is fast, if not the fastest. You don’t have to wait for any water to boil, and you don’t have to be afraid of altering your bottle shapes. You simply wait roughly 2 to three minutes total (double check your manual first) and you are done. You don’t even have to watch it like the boiling method. It is also the fastest and most stress free method.

Is It Expensive?

Not really. The microwave steam sterilizers generally costs around $20 to $30. The microwave steam sterilizer bags costs around $6 for five bags. The bags have a limited reusable lifespan of 20 times so they are cheaper. However, I really doubt you will use up a pack of bags unless you sterilize your bottles every single day (which is not necessary).

Would There Be Radiation Issues?

This is a common question, but no, there will be no radiation issues. Even microwaving your food doesn’t leave behind radiation in the first place. Microwave radiation is a type of concentrated RF (radio frequency) that you pretty much live with every single day (cell phone signals for example).

It is only dangerous if you or your baby is standing right next to the microwave and intentionally getting yourself exposed to it.  So far it is unclear what kind of long term issues it has, but at this point, there’s only evidence that it heats up water.

In other words, let’s say theoretically you get hit by a bunch of microwaves in the short term, you will be killed because you are burning and boiling from the inside to death, because our body is made of mostly water. This is different from the common belief of dying from cancer, which is not true.

Microwave only heats up the water in, and around your milk bottles, then it simply disappears after it is done sterilizing. It is not a high energy radiation like UV ray, gamma ray, x-rays so it can not pluck an electron or proton off of something.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Use This When You Have No Choice

Hydrogen peroxide is not exactly your best tool at sterilizing bottles. However, if you have no access to a heat source, or microwave, then this is the safest cold disinfectant method you can get.

Don’t Get The Ones From Pharmacies

Do not use the ones you buy from the pharmacies or local stores because they mostly have extremely low concentration of hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide has a shelf life. After a certain period of time, it breaks down completely into oxygen and water. What you should do instead is to go to amazon and purchase your own food grade hydrogen peroxide, and dilute it yourself.

Is It Safe?

Yes, it is safe. The reason is because hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen. However, before it breaks down, it is not safe when you touch it for prolong periods. Active hydrogen peroxide have the ability to damage fibroblasts on your body(healing cells), so wear gloves.

How Does It Kill Bacteria?

It uses something called oxidation, which destroys cell walls on bacteria (and human cells). However, human cells have some immune defense against it so that’s why short term use of 3% dilution is safe.

How Do You Use It?

As usual, clean your bottles of any old milk. Next get a tub or something similar and add half volume with water, and the other half volume with 3% hydrogen peroxide. Soak your baby bottles in it overnight. The next day, use water to rinse the hydrogen peroxide back out thoroughly and you should be good to go.

Use Baking Soda To Remove Smells

Baking Soda Does Not Kill Germs

If your baby bottles still smell funky (like old milk) after sterilizing, then you can remove it with baking soda. However, baking soda can not kills germs. Bad smells are usually caused by bacteria poop, and it is acidic. Baking soda is a mild base so it neutralizes it.

How To Remove The Bad Smells

For each funky bottle, fill it up with 50% hot water, add a teaspoon of baking soda to it. Shake it thoroughly to mix with the bottle cap on. Afterwards let it sit it for five to ten minutes. Later, rinse out the solution with cold water and you should be good to go.

If one rinse is not good enough, repeat it again until the smells is completely gone. I hope this was helpful. Generally speaking you don’t need to sterilize your bottles all the time, unless your baby has immune system issues. If you have any questions, please leave it in the comments section below.