Cleaning & sterilizing equipment

Created: December 12, 2014. - Reviewed: May 07, 2016.

There are a number of ways you could sterilize your baby’s feeding equipment. But more important is how its cleaned. If you would like to check that you’re cleaning and sterilizing your baby’s feeding equipment correctly, this article explains how.

Cleaning & sterilizing equipment
Rowena Bennett

Rowena Bennett

  • Registered Nurse
  • Registered Midwife
  • Child Health Nurse
  • Mental Health Nurse

Rowena over 20 years experience assisting parents to resolve well baby care problems.


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Why sterilize?


Babies have immature immune systems. This means their little bodies can't fight germs as easily as adults can. An illness that may cause a minor inconvenience to an adult could be severe for a young baby.


Current recommendations are to sterilize all feeding equipment for the first six months of a baby's life. After 6 months, feeding equipment doesn't need to be sterilized if it's cleaned soon after use and air dried (a dishwasher is fine).


Sterilization methods only work if feeding equipment is clean. Whether you choose to sterilize or not, it's important that all feeding equipment is thoroughly cleaned. 

Cleaning feeding equipment


To protect your baby from harmful germs its important to clean your baby's feeding equipment as soon as possible after he has finished feeding. 


  1. Wash your hands before washing your baby's bottles.
  2. To ensure all milk residue is removed, rinse all feeding equipment with cold water first and then wash the bottle, nipple and nipple ring inside and out with warm water and detergent using a bottle brush. Remember to brush the grooves in the neck of the bottle and nipple ring, as milk reside can collect in these places.
  3. Turn the nipples inside out and squirt water through the holes.
  4. Rinse well in clean water.

Chemical sterilization


Anti-bacterial sterilizing solution comes in liquid or tablet form. You can buy a sterilization kit from a pharmacy or supermarket.


  • Prepare the solution in a large glass or plastic container. Add water first and then the recommended amount of solution or number of tablets. Wait until the tablets dissolve and stir the solution and water before adding bottles, nipples, caps, teething rings or pacifiers.
  • Make sure everything is covered completely by the water/solution and that there are no air bubbles in the bottles or equipment. Squirt the water/solution through holes of the nipples.
  • Leave equipment to soak for as long as recommended as per instructions (usually one hour).
  • Wash your hands before removing equipment.
  • Shake off any excess solution before use. Do not rinse. The small amount of residue left on the bottles will not harm your baby and there's no need to rinse it off.
  • Remember to change the sterilizing solution regularly as per instructions (usually every 24 hours).


You can leave sterlized feeding equipment in the sterilizing solution or in the refrigerator until required.


Please note: Metal utensils must not be placed into the chemical solution.

Boiling method


  • Place bottles, nipples and other equipment in a large saucepan and cover with water.
  • Cover the saucepan with a lid and bring water to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for 5 minutes. 
  • Leave the lid on while the water cools.
  • Wash your hands before removing bottles and other equipment.
  • Drain the water and store the equipment in the refrigerator until needed. Cover nipple with its protective cap.


Note:  Boiling can cause discoloration of bottles and nipples.

Steam sterilizers


There is a range of different electrical steaming units (which can be expensive) and microwave sterilizing units (which are cheaper). You will need to follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to use each type. 


Microwaving does not sterilize the feeding equipment unless you use a proper microwave sterilizing kit.


Please note: Glass bottles and metal implements should not be placed into a microwave sterilizer. Plastic and silicone are fine, but latex (rubber) nipples may not last as long if they are sterilized using any form of heat (boiling or steam).


Written by Rowena Bennett

© Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. Permission from author must be obtained to reproduce all or any part of this article.


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