How to clean baby’s feeding items

Tips to ensure an infant’s feeding items are properly cleaned and safe to use.

Colorful baby bottles.
Photo: PX41-Media/Pixabay.

Proper cleaning of a baby’s feeding items can help prevent unwanted pathogens like bacteria and mold from growing. Washing bottles, nipples, rings, caps, bowls, utensils and containers after each use prevents the potential for foodborne illness. Always start by washing your hands for 20 seconds using warm water and soap. Then take apart each component of the feeding equipment. Wash each piece separately to ensure it is clean.


Place in the dishwasher on the highest heat setting. If the parts are still wet, place them on a clean, unused dish towel or clean paper towel to let them thoroughly air-dry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises against placing on a drying rack, as this may cause recontamination of the infant feeding items.

Washing by hand

Use a plastic basin utilized only for cleaning infant feeding items, because the sink may harbor unwanted pathogens. Use dish soap and hot water to wash the various pieces and scrub using a brush to clean infant feeding items. Rinse under running water and let air dry.


The CDC suggests sanitizing items after each use if the baby is under two months of age or has a weakened immune system. Daily sanitizing is not required for older, healthier infants as long are the feeding items are properly cleaned after each use.

Sanitization methods include using chemicals or heat. For heat sanitation, place the parts in boiling water for five minutes and remove them with tongs. For chemical sanitation, make a bleach solution of two teaspoons of unscented bleach per gallon (16 cups) of water in a clean wash basin. Place all the items inside the sanitizer, soak for two minutes, and remove.

According to Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, do not rinse after sanitizing in the bleach solution. If mixed properly the chemical will evaporate and not harm your baby. For both methods, let air dry on a clean, unused dish towel or clean paper towel. Use clean hands to reassemble items and store them in a clean area.

Should you clean these items:

  • Formula scooper? No. Per the CDC, if the formula scooper stays inside the formula can it does not need to be washed.
  • Outside of the formula container? No. Per the CDC, there is no evidence that babies have become sick from contamination on the outside of an infant formula container. If desired, use a disinfectant wipe to clean the outside of the container and lid before opening it for the first time. However, never place the container under running water. Ensure that the outside is completely dry before opening, and never clean the inside of the container.
  • Can opener? Yes. If a can opener is required, it must be cleaned and sanitized before use.

For more information on infant care and food safety, visit MSU Extension's Safe Food = Healthy Babies website for resources and articles.

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