How to Wash and Clean Your Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
September 20, 2014
Bottle cotainer

Whether you call it a baby bottle or a feeding bottle, once your baby has finished their meal you are going to need to use the proper technique to get the baby bottle squeaky clean and sanitary. You want to be sure that it is clean for the next time you use it with your child.

Let's take a look at the correct procedure to follow when cleaning your baby bottles. The same methods used to clean baby bottles can also be used on sippy cups.

After Feeding Your Baby

It is best to clean your baby bottles immediately after feeding your baby. If you plan to wash your baby bottles later, it is vital that you at least thoroughly rinse each bottle to remove any milk or formula residue. This will prevent the milk from drying and hardening, becoming incredibly difficult to remove.

Instead of rinsing, you can also place used baby bottles in the refrigerator until it is time to clean them.

Rinsing your bottle or sippy cup after your baby's meal is a crucial step regardless of whether you wash your baby bottles in the dishwasher or sink.

This guide is broken made up of three sections. Click below to jump to the specific section:

Cleaning your baby bottles in the sink

Washing your baby bottles in the sink can easily be achieved with these six simple steps.

1. Preparing Your Bottle To be Cleaned

Separate your baby bottle or sippy cup into as many pieces as possible. By washing the nipple, bottle and lid separately you will be guaranteed not to miss any dried milk that may be stuck in out of the way places. Bacteria loves dried milk which makes it vital that you clean your baby bottle properly to prevent passing the bacteria onto your baby.

2. Baby Bottle Washing Solution

With your baby bottle in pieces, it is time to begin washing. Prepare hot water in your sink and add a small amount of mild dish soap. Mix the two together until the water is soapy and add your bottle pieces.

3. Scrubbing Your Baby Bottle

With your baby bottle pieces covered in soapy water, it is time to get scrubbing. The easiest way to clean out the bottle chamber is by using a bottle brush similar to the one below.

Not all baby bottle brushes are the same length, some are shorter than others. When choosing a bottle brush it is best to use one that can easily reach the bottom of your bottle while still allowing you to hold the handle with a firm grip.

Baby Bottle Cleaning Brush

Colors: Pink, Aqua, Green, Orange.

  • ​Two bristle types.
  • Flexible neck.
  • Bottlebrush holder.

Bottle brushes that are specifically designed to clean baby bottles may come with a silicone nipple cleaner. While this is a nice bonus, you will need to be careful using it. Unless the brush is the bristled type, it can easily tear your baby nipple.

With your bottle brush in hand, half fill your baby bottle with soapy water and insert the brush. Using a back and forth motion, carefully clean the inside of the bottle paying particular attention to the base, neck, and lip of the bottle, where milk can easily get caught.

For the outside of the bottle or sippy cup, simply use a two-sided sponge. Run the soft section of your sponge over the exterior, swapping over to the rough section of the sponge to remove any stubborn milk build up or grime.

4. Cleaning the baby bottle nipple

As touched on above, if you are going to clean your baby bottle nipple then you are going to need a bristled brush. As the bottle nipple is much narrower than the bottle, you will need a small sized brush like the one below. These brushes are also great for cleaning sippy cup lids and straws

Nipple Cleaning brush

Colors:As pictured.

  • ​Cost efficient.
  • Easy to use.
  • Dishwasher safe.

With the baby bottle nipple cleaner in your hand, gently brush around the interior of the nipple. Apply more pressure to remove stubborn milk build up. Rub the sponge around the exterior of the nipple making sure you have removed all traces of milk and baby saliva.

5. Rinsing your baby bottle

You do not want your baby sucking on soap residue for his next meal. When you have finished washing the baby bottle or sippy cup, run them under cold water to remove any remaining soap suds.

6. Drying your baby bottle

Now that you have finished washing your bottle it is time to set it aside to dry. Air drying is the recommended method for drying baby bottles.

When placing your baby bottle and nipple out to dry, arrange them with openings face down. This will allow any water droplets to run down and out of your baby bottle or sippy cup. Avoid allowing water to pool in your clean baby feeding equipment as a pool of water can be a breeding ground for bacteria.

The easiest way to air dry your baby bottles is by using a dish rack. There are even purpose made baby bottle drying racks available. These racks have hooks to dry your bottles as well as slots to dry your lids and nipples. The baby bottle drying rack is designed to take up as little room as possible, an absolute must for kitchens with limited space.

Baby bottle drying rack

Colors:As pictured.

  • ​High capacity.
  • Adjustable height.
  • Drip tray.

Congratulations, you have successfully finished cleaning your baby bottles. Do not be discouraged if your first attempt at cleaning takes a loner than expected. Speed will come with practice.

Sanitizing your baby bottle

The next step is to sterilize your baby bottle. There are so many different sterilizing techniques available that I have created a separate guide on how to sterilize baby bottles and nipples.

Cleaning baby bottles in a dishwasher

If your baby bottles are glass or dishwasher safe plastic then you have the option of using the dishwasher to clean them. Just like cleaning by hand, you will need to separate the baby bottle into its individual parts. Simply toss the baby bottles and nipples in with your dirty pots and pans for a full cycle.

Unless your bottle or sippy cup instructions specify otherwise, it is always best to place your bottle, nipple, and lid in the top section of your dishwasher. Items placed in the top rack of the dishwasher receive a gentler wash than those placed in the bottom section.

Placing your baby bottle lids and nipples in the dishwasher may cause them to slip between the gaps in the tray and become destroyed. A dishwasher basket is a great way to keep your nipples and sippy cup lids in one place. The dishwasher basket has clips that help your nipples stay upright for the duration of the wash. There is even a section for baby straws.

Baby bottle dishwasher basket

Colors:As pictured.

  • ​Holds nipples and small pieces.
  • Won't bounce around the dishwasher.
  • Durable.

After the dishwasher cycle has completed, allow time for your baby bottles to completely dry before opening the dishwasher to return your bottles to storage.

Dishwasher Problems

While the dishwasher definitely makes the job washing of your baby bottles that much simpler, there are some things you will still need to be mindful of:

Bottle and nipple stains: Avoid cleaning your baby bottles with dishes that contained food capable of staining. For example, pasta sauce can get splattered over your baby feeding equipment during the cleaning process. The high temperature will then the pigment to set, resulting in stained nipples and bottles.

Bottle placement: Take particular care when placing your baby bottles in the dishwasher. The bottles will want to be placed with the opening face down to allow for effective cleaning. Make sure your bottles are secure and will not fall over during the cycle. If a bottle falls and water is allowed to pool then you will need to sterilize the bottle.

Nipples will wear quicker: If you frequently use the dishwasher to clean your silicone nipples then you will need to be aware that they will become damaged much quicker than if you wash by hand.

Ultimately which cleaning method you use is your choice. You can effectively wash your baby bottles by hand or by dishwasher. Neither method outperforms the other.

Cleaning baby bottles when on holiday

The easiest way to clean baby bottles when on Vacation is to not clean at all. Don't worry, you won't be using the same dirty bottle to feed your baby.

What you will need:

  • A single Playtex Baby Bottle
  • Drop in liners, pictured below.
  • Multiple nipples.
  • Two ziplock bags

Store your milk in the disposable bottle liners. When feeding times comes you transfer the bottle liner to your baby bottle. The disposable liner will shield the baby bottle chamber from coming into contact with the milk, keeping it clean. After each feeding, you simply dispose of the bottle liner.

The milk will still come into contact with the nipple which will have to be changed after each feeding. By carrying an equal number of nipples to baby feedings you will not have to wash the dirty nipples until you get back to a location with a sink or dishwasher.

To make your life easier, use one ziplock bag for clean nipples and the other the other for used nipples.

Baby Bottle Liner

Colors:As pictured.

  • No more cleaning.
  • Reduces colic.
  • BPA free.

Packing bottle cleaning equipment on holiday

When going on vacation it can be difficult to pack all the essential accessories that come with raising kids. Between strollers, diapers and your own luggage, you may find you are hard pressed to find room for anything else.

One way around this is to purchase bottle cleaning equipment when you arrive at your destination. This may not be an option if you vacation is secluded, such as a camping site. Fortunately, there are purpose made baby bottle cleaning kits available that are perfect for travel.

The cleaning kits contain a nipple cleaner, bottle brush, and the case itself folds out to be a small drying rack. There is even room in the case for a small bottle of detergent. All you need is hot water and you are set to wash your baby bottles or sippy cups while on holiday.

Boon Travel Drying Rack

Colors:Green

  • Compact and portable.
  • Three piece kit.
  • Effectively cleans.

Featured Image Source: Pexels

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