Hand-washing of baby bottles is common practice among parents. And generally, using hot soapy water to clean those bottles is a safe method to getting rid of most germs. But there are times that a baby bottle sterilizer is necessary. It comes in handy for most new parents!
Babies who are younger than 3 months, were born premature, or have a suppressed immune system will require sterilization of their bottles beyond hand-washing. Additionally, if there has been sickness in the household, it’s smart to sterilize as well. And honestly - it’s often a lot easier to use a sterilizer anyway! Because most parents will need a sterilizer at some point, we’ve rounded up our favorites that will kill germs fast on your baby bottles, pacifiers, and more.
Do I need to sterilize my baby’s bottles?
According to Dr. Brown’s, “Often, disease-causing germs are found on items that come into contact with baby’s mouth, like baby bottles. Washing bottles in hot, soapy water is key, but some harmful bacteria can linger through even the lengthiest scrubbing - and arrive after washing.”
In other words, washing up your baby’s bottles will kill most bacteria, but it isn’t your most effective option. For most healthy, full-term babies past the age of 3 months, you can go this route and feel pretty confident in giving your baby a bottle cleaned in this manner. But if you want or require extra germ removal, any of the sanitizers in this list will do exactly what you need.
Types of Baby Bottle Sterilizers
With most baby products these days, there are lots of options to choose from. Initially you think it’s going to be a quick purchase, only to realize that each choice offers unique features leading to more decision-making than you first thought you’d have to do. Sterilizers are just like that. You think they’re all the same, but they’re not!
Which is why before we give you are favorite baby bottle sterilizers, we’re breaking down for you all the different types available. (Important to note that all of these are capable of cleaning pacifiers, pump parts, etc. as well.)
Electric Bottle Sanitizers
Electric Baby Bottle Sterilizers are the kind that you need to plug in. These are a common option and work great at home. Water is placed in the bottom of the sterilizer and then is heated to a specific temperature that creates bacteria-killing steam that circulates around the bottles that are sitting up above.
Microwavable Bottle Sanitizers
Bottle Sterilizers utilized in the microwave are generally made of plastic and have a round, stout design. This is so they’re able to fit easily into most microwaves. There is a reservoir for water and when microwaved, utilizes steam to kill any bacteria remaining on the bottles.
Steam Bag Sanitizers
Steam bag sanitizers also utilized heat from a microwave in order to work. Water is poured into the bottom and when heated, circulates steam inside the bag. The excess water is then poured out a hole on the top after heating. Most of these bags are reusable quite a few times and then are supposed to be thrown away after a certain amount of uses. The bags don’t hold nearly as much as other sterilizers, but are great for on the go.
UV Bottle Sanitizers
These are the newest sterilizers available. The nice thing about the UV options is that they don’t require any water. Instead, they have UV “lamps” inside that give 360-degree coverage to effectively kill 99.9% of germs. These are generally very easy to use and don’t take a long time to sterilizer your baby’s bottles.
What to Look for in a Bottle Sterilizer
Within the four main types of baby bottle sterilizers, there are other features to consider. We’ve listed what we think is most important to look for when choosing the bottle sterilizer that will work best for your specific needs and situation.
Obviously the number one requirement in a baby bottle sterilizer is that it kills germs in order to keep your baby healthy. And though nothing can guarantee that it will leave your bottles 100% free of bacteria, most get pretty darn close. What you want to look for other than just the initial killing of germs is how long the sterilizer is able to keep your baby’s bottles free of bacteria. For example, some are able to keep the bottles 99.9% germ-free for up to 24 hours when left inside the sterilizer.
Time it Takes
Bottle Sterilizer may take a few minutes to sterilize your baby’s bottles or up to an hour if it also included a drying mechanism. Some will be on the lower end of the range, whereas others will take longer. Now, the amount of time won’t always matter - especially when you’re on top of things and finishing up the day by sterilizing all your baby’s bottles. But I guarantee you’ll find yourself in those times where you’re in a pinch and you’re hurrying to get your baby’s bottle all cleaned up (perhaps she is screaming in the background because she needed her bottle 5 minutes ago!) At that point, you’ll wish you had an option to sterilize those bottles fast!
Lots of storage capacity sounds great in theory, but it also means that the sterilizer itself is going to be larger. If you have a big space in your home to stow your sterilizer when it’s not in use, than this point may not matter. However, you do want to consider that you’ll probably end up having your sterilizer out on your counter 24/7. So if you want a sterilizer that can clean many bottles at once, just know that it may stick out a bit like a sore thumb.
However, if you have twins or multiples, you’re probably going to need to opt for a larger bottle sterilizer. The convenience at that point matters much more what the sterilizer may look like in your kitchen.
There will be times that you’ll need a sterilizing option on the go. If you’re headed to a friend or family member’s home, for example, you may want to have a way to clean your baby’s bottles instead of just rinsing them out and cleaning them when you get home. Opting for a microwavable sterilizer bag is great for cleanings while you’re away from your home. They fold up neatly into a diaper bag and make it so you only need to take one bottle with you for the day.
Ease of Use
Most bottle sterilizers should be pretty easy to use. But this is where we like to encourage you to read user reviews to find out if other parents have had trouble operating the sterilizer or putting it together. Parenting is already tough enough, so make sure you’re always choosing products that make your life easier, not harder.
Some sterilizers offer that as their only function. And for some parents that will work just fine. However, it’s always nice when you have a product that can pull double-duty, don’t you think?! Some sterilizers are able to disinfect more than just your baby’s stuff, and some sterilizers also offer bottle warming capabilities or are able to dry the bottles, as well. Not only will this save some counter space, but it can also be less expensive in the long run even if the one product may cost a bit more.
Even parents on a tight budget can find an affordable sterilizer. You might think that they’re all pretty comparable in terms of price, but there’s actually a pretty wide range. Microwavable sterilizers (either a plastic container or steam bag) are going to be the least expensive option, whereas UV light sanitizers generally cost the most.
Best Baby Bottle Sterilizers of 2021
Here we’ve rounded up our favorite bottle sterilizers so you can have the peace of mind that the bottle you are giving your baby is as clean as possible. These all also work great for pump parts, pacifiers, etc. We chose our favorites in different categories so you can find the sterilizer that best fits your lifestyle family’s needs.
Best Sterilizer/Dryer Combo: Wabi Baby™ 3-in-1 Steam Sterilizer and Dryer Plus
Ever open your dishwasher and find that your clean dishes are still soaking wet? Perhaps you opened it too soon or forgot to put on the drying function. Well, most sterilizers leave your bottles still wet if you take them out right away (becuase they don’t have a drying function.) The Wabi Baby sterilizer your bottles AND has a drying mechanism built in as well. You can also use it a third way in “storage mode.”
Other features include:
- Reduces risk of new bacteria growth that can come with open air drying
- One button descaling
- Last setting memory
- Redesigned basket now holds more
- Products sterilized and dry within 1 hour
Best Sterilizer for Twins/Multiples: Grownsy UV Light Sanitizer
This high-capacity UV Light sanitizer holds up to 12 baby bottles! So if you have more than one baby to care for, this larger sized sterilizer is a great option. Or, if you only have one baby, but have lots of stuff to clean (even works great for baby plates, utensils, pacifiers, etc.) this large-capacity UV sanitizer is an excellent option.
Other features include:
- Built-in Philips UV lamp kills 99.9% of bacteria
- 4-in-1 capability: sterilizing/drying/auto(does both)/storage
- 167℉ drying means you don’t have to worry about bacteria collection that can come from air drying
- Multipurpose - this isn’t just for baby! Use it to sanitize home items even when your baby is past the bottle stage
Best Sterilizer for More than Baby Stuff: PhoneSoap’s HomeSoap
These days, you might want to be sterilizing a lot more than your baby’s bottles. Remote controls, phones, baby toys, tablets, etc. all get covered in germs on the daily.If you’re someone who tries to be extra careful about keeping your surfaces clean, this option is perfect for sanitizing your baby’s bottles as well whatever else needs a quick germ zapping. PhoneSoap made headlines when it went on Shark Tank, so it’s not a surprise that an option to sanitize much more than phones was created.
Other features include:
- Disinfects via two large, powerful UV-C lights and a reflective inner surface
- on/off switch
- Wide and tall capacity fits baby bottles and even iPad Pros
- Two charging ports allow for charging all while your baby’s bottles (and your devices) are getting cleaned
- Glowing lightning bolt indicates when the bottles are cleaned
- Sanitizing takes 10 minutes
Best Electric Bottle Sterilizer: Tommee Tippee Steri-Steam Electric Steam Sterilizer
Most electric bottle sterilizers that you’ll find are fairly similar. Though some are easier to use than others and you’ll also find them in different sizes. We love this one from Tommee-Tippee because it heats up quickly - meaning your baby’s bottles (or whatever you’re needing to sanitize) will be germ-free within 5 minutes.
Other features include:
- 100% natural steam envelopes every surface, so no need for chemicals
- Kills 99.9% of harmful germs
- When lid stays closed, items are free of bacteria for 24 hours
- As easy as putting water in the bottom and pressing a button to start
Best Microwave Bottle Sterilizer: Philips Avent Microwave Steam Sterilizer
Not only is this baby bottle sterilizer effective, but it’s also a very affordable choice. Sometimes you don’t need all the bells and whistles, simply something that can do the job you need. You can be confident that this Avent Sterilizer will get your baby’s bottles free of any harmful bacteria. And our favorite part? It kills those germs in 2 minutes.
Other features include:
- Made from BPA free plastic
- Contents stays sterile for up to 24 hours
- Lightweigth and compact and is easily stored in a cupboard
- Compatible with most microwaves
- Holds up to 4 bottles at a time
Best Steam Bag: Evenflo Silicone Reusable Sanitizer Microwave Steam Bag
Though many of the “disposable” microwave steam bags are actually reusable several times before they need to be thrown away, they still become unnecessary trash. We are all about lowering our carbon footprint by using as many reusable products as possible. That’s why this Evenflo Silicone Steam Bag is our favorite of this kind for bottle sterilization.
Other features include:
- Made from durable, 100% FDA food-grade silicone
- Also great for use as a storage bag on the go
- Safe grip corners for cooler handling
- Will withstand extreme temperatures and last for decades
- Self standing design makes prep easy
We love this option for on the go, paired with our favorite portable bottle warmer, The Baby's Brew.