How to Sterilize Baby Bottles & Pacifiers

Sterilizing baby bottles, including nipples, nipple caps and rings, can help protect a baby’s health, according to the Ohio State University Department of Women & Infant Nursing. Because babies also put pacifiers in their mouths, the pacifiers need to be sterilized as well. This sterilization should continue as long as recommended by the baby’s doctor. Keeping baby bottles and pacifiers sterilized help parents and caregivers have them ready for use the next time they are needed.

Wash the bottles, pacifiers, nipples, caps and rings with hot soapy water. This will help to get any milk scum off of them. Nipple holes should have bristles from a dishwasher brush inserted to clean the holes. Washing these items is different from sterilizing them, but it is a necessary step.

Place the pacifiers, bottles and other materials in the top rack of a dishwasher if you have one. Washing these items in a dishwasher with water that reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit properly sterilizes them.

Fill a large pan with water and place it on a stove if you don’t have a dishwasher, in which case boiling water will need to be used to sterilize the bottles and other items.

Place the bottles and other materials in the pan with water. The materials need to be submerged, so a wire grate may need to be used to weigh them down.

Cover the pan with a lid and bring the water to a boil. Continue to boil the bottles and other items for 15 minutes.

Use tongs to remove the bottles and other materials. Place them on a clean towel or a drainer. The bottles and other materials are now sterilized and need time only to dry.


Wash your hands when preparing to handle baby bottles and pacifiers that are going to be handled by the baby. Rinse the nipples and bottles immediately after they are used in order to make cleaning them later easier. Make sure that bottles in the pan of water don’t have air pockets or they may be susceptible to breaking.


Baby bottles, including nipples, nipple caps and rings, and pacifiers need to be sterilized before they are used for the first time, even if purchased with unbroken packaging materials.