squeaky clean:
a guide to sterilising baby things

One of the main ways your baby will discover the world is by mouthing, gumming and chewing pretty much everything he or she comes across. Keeping those tasty toes and fingers clean is easy, but cleaning up bottles, soothers and weaning equipment can be a bit more complicated. In order to keep your baby happy and healthy no matter what they're sucking on, here's how to master sterilising.

keeping baby safe, sterilising guide from mothercare

know when to sterilise

Whether you're using expressed milk or infant formula, bottles will need sterilising for as long as you use them. Once your baby graduates up to solid food, try to sterilise bowls, spoons and other equipment for the first few months. Even when they're up and crawling it's important to carry on sterilising bottles. Harmful bacteria can develop in milk, so keeping things spick and span helps gives tiny immune systems time to develop.

clean before sterilising

It might sound odd but while sterilising kills bacteria, it doesn’t actually clean. This means it's best to wash all bottles, teats, soothers, bottle tops and washable breast pump parts in hot water with washing-up liquid first[1]. Wash your hands really well before you start and give everything a final rinse under the cold tap before sterilising. Before you use sterilised equipment, disinfect the surface you’ll be working on too.

different sterilising methods

There are three ways to sterilise: by using a cold water sterilising solution, by steam sterilising or by boiling. Sterilisers are basically plastic units with lids shaped to hold bottles. All equipment's different, so make sure you read and properly decipher the instruction manual before using.

cold water sterilisers

Cold water sterilisers use chemical tablets that dissolve to make a bacteria-beating solution. It takes around 30 minutes, and is great for sterilising in batches, as you only need to change the sterilising solution every 24 hours[2] . All you need to do is place everything you're sterilising into the unit and push it under the solution using the weighted grid. Cold water sterilisers don't need electricity, so they're handy for travelling – just remember to stock up on tablets before you jet off.

steam sterilisers

Steam sterilisers use heat from steam to kill bacteria. They’re super-quick to use, but once you've taken the lid off the unit you'll either need to use the items right away or re-sterilise. Make sure bottles and teats are facing downwards before you start. Electric steam sterilisers can hold up to six bottles and take around 6-12 minutes to work. Alternatively, microwaveable sterilisers are ideal for travelling and only take a few minutes[3]. These are also great value for money – what's not to love?


If you're in a pinch and stuck without a steriliser you can try boiling. It's not ideal, as some equipment isn't safe to boil and can get damaged at such a high temperature. This means teats and bottles may need replacing regularly. When sterilising by boiling, items should be submerged for at least 10 minutes, making sure you keep a close watch at all times[3]. It's then best to remove bottles just before use to avoid contamination.


Browse mothercare's range of sterilising equipment here >>


[1]. Sterilising Baby Bottles, NHS [Accessed April, 2019]

[2]. Sterilising How To Guide, Emma's Diary [Accessed April, 2019]

[3]. Sterilising Bottle-Feeding Equipment, BabyCentre [Accessed April, 2019]