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Bottle feeding - cleaning and sterilising bottles and equipment

bottles; feeding; formula; teats; boiling; microwave; steriliser; cleaning; Milton; chemical; brush; washing; sterilising ;

Always clean and sterilise the bottles, teats, and all feeding equipment you have used, until your baby is 12 months old. This helps to stop your baby from getting sick from germs. If you choose to stop sterilising the equipment after your baby is 12 months old, always make sure the bottles, teats and equipment are cleaned well for any babies or toddlers.


If your baby is not breastfeeding, the only other safe milks to give to a baby are infant formulas. Babies who are formula fed will still grow well and be healthy.

You will need

  • A bottle brush (to clean the inside of the bottle well).
  • Items to sterilise the equipment:
    • For boiling: a large saucepan OR
    • For steaming: An electric or microwave steam sterilising unit OR
    • For chemicals (eg. Milton**): a large plastic or glass container.

The first step is cleaning

Step 1: Cleaning after a feed

  • Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them well.
    wash your hands
  • Rinse the bottle and teat with cold water from the tap straight after feeding.
  • Then wash the bottle and teat well with hot water and detergent.
  • Use a bottle brush to clean all the bits of milk off the inside of the bottle.

  • Turn the teat inside out to clean off bits of milk, and squirt water through the holes.
  • Rinse the bottle and teat well in clean water (no detergent).

After cleaning, the next step is sterilising

Step 2: Sterilising
All equipment used to make up your baby's feeds needs to be sterilised, including bottles, teats, caps, lids, discs, knives (to level off the powder), and any jugs or containers.

  • Clean the equipment first (see Step 1 above).
  • You can sterilise the equipment 3 different ways (see "Different ways of sterilising" below).
  • After the equipment is sterilised, take it out with clean hands, put the lids back on the bottles, and store everything in a covered, clean place (eg a plastic container).
  • If you do not use the equipment within 24 hours, you will need to sterilise it again before you use it.

Different ways of sterilising

1. Boiling

  • Put bottles, teats and other equipment into a large saucepan.
  • Cover with cold tap water.
  • Make sure the equipment is completely covered with water and there are no air bubbles.
  • Put a lid on the pan, bring it to the boil, and boil for 5 minutes.
  • Let the water cool before taking the equipment out.
  • Shake off excess water, put the lids on the bottles, and store everything in a clean, dry place.

2. Steam Steriliser

  • You can buy electric steam sterilising kits or ones for the microwave.
  • Follow the product instructions carefully.
  • Glass bottles or metals (such as knives) must not be put in a microwave steriliser. Metal knives can be sterilised by boiling (see above).
  • Once you are finished, clean out the unit as per the instructions.
  • Put the lids on the bottles, and store everything in a clean, dry place.

3. Using chemicals (that are for sterilising baby feeding equipment eg. Milton**)

  • Always follow the instructions on the packet carefully.
  • Make up the solution in a large glass or plastic container or bowl.
  • Don't put metal (eg knives) into chemicals to sterilise. Metal knives can be sterilised by boiling
  • Fully cover everything with the solution (no air gaps).
  • Make up a fresh solution every 24 hours. Wash the bowl out with soapy water and rinse it before you put the new solution in there.
  • Be careful when handling the solution. Wash your hands afterwards.


South Australia

  • Parent Helpline - phone 1300 364 100
  • Child and Family Health Centres 1300 733 606
    Call 9am to 4.30pm to make an appointment

More information

The booklet 'Infant formula - a guide to safe preparation and feeding of infant formula' produced by Women's and Children's Health Network (South Australia) is available for downloading: Infant Formula Booklet

**Any products referred to in our health topics are usually well-known brands readily available in Australia. The brand names are given as examples only, and do not necessarily represent the best products, nor the full range of effective products on the market.

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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