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Plus, find out if you actually need a bottle sterilizer.
During the first year of a baby's life, parents have a lot to worry about, not the least of which is that a baby's immune system is the most fragile at this time. Camille Sabella, M.D., Director of the Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Cleveland Clinic Children’s, states that “an infant’s immune system doesn’t mature until around 2 to 3 months.” While there's not much one can do to avoid exposure to household germs altogether, there certainly are steps to take to help ensure they are bacteria-free. Enter the bottle sterilizer – these nifty gadgets make it easy to sanitize (99.9%) bottles, nipples, toys, pump parts, and anything the baby may put into their mouth (which is, like, everything.)
The engineering experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute test all of the latest and greatest gadgets for all of your parenting needs, from baby monitors to kid's toys. To find the best baby bottle sterilizers, our engineers in the Little Lab considered how easy they were to use, how long they took to operate, how easy they were to clean, and the number of bottles they can hold. Over the past four years, our engineering pros (and parents!) logged tens of thousands of hours sterilizing bottles and accessories! We also we relied on user reviews and feedback to pick the top-rated sterilizers. Here are our top-picks for saying bye-bye to germs fast:
While it is a personal choice for your family, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends sterilizing bottles and parts once a day, especially for babies younger than three months, born prematurely, or have a weakened immune system. Although not mandatory, it is recommended to always sterilize new bottles before using them and if your doctor has recommended sterilizing bottles between feedings, you might like the convenience of being able to load and run a sterilizer without needing to boil water every time, especially if you have multiple babies.
Hand washing bottles with hot water and soap or running them through the dishwasher gives them a good cleaning but may not appropriately sanitize, while most sanitizers claim to eliminate 99.9% of bacteria, helping to alleviate the potential for serious illness. You can certainly sanitize your bottles using boiling water on the stovetop, but it does get tedious and is time-consuming. While you don't need a dedicated machine to sanitize, having a bottle sterilizer on hand certainly provides convenience, kills germs, and adds some peace of mind. We say that is a win-win for all.
Sterilizing baby bottles and accessories can't get any easier than with the Baby Brezza One Step Sterilizer Dryer. This electric appliance automatically uses natural steam to kill 99.9% of the germs in bottles, breast pump parts, pacifiers, and other baby accessories in just eight minutes, then automatically dries in your choice of a 30, 45, or 60-minute drying cycle. Our Lab pros love that it can be set to automatically sterilize and dry in one cycle, or you can do each independently. It has an easy-to-use control panel and can hold up to six bottles of all shapes and sizes, plus accessories.
As one of the most affordable options out there, this steam bottle sterilizer is not only wallet-friendly, but simple to use and works in under two minutes. It is also a great option for those that don't want another appliance on their countertop. This microwave sterilizer is a safe and efficient way to kill up 99.9% of bacteria on bottles, nipples, pacifiers, teethers, small toys and breast pump accessories right in your microwave. It's that easy. In our Lab evaluations, we found it lightweight and compact, and we appreciated that it has locking heat-resistant handles to help prevent accidents.
Budget-friendly, fast, and effective, this microwave sterilizer claims to be BPA free and kill 99.9% of bacteria in under two minutes. It can hold up to four different sized bottles, breast pump parts, and feeding accessories. It fits into most microwaves and will keep everything clean for 24 hours if you keep the lid closed. Our engineers and parents noted loving that the handles stay cool, so parents or caregivers can safely remove it from the microwave without any harm.
As one of the largest electric sterilizers on the market, this sleek machine has a spacious interior that holds up to six bottles on an upper tray and has a removable lower tray to hold accessories like nipples, breast pump parts, pacifiers, and toys. In just 12 minutes, it will zap 99.9% of germs and automatically shuts off when the cycle is complete. It also comes with a measuring cup and tongs to ensure you won't get burned if you reach in to remove items while they're still hot.
If you want something with no-fuss, easy to use, and great for on-the-go, try the Medela steam bags for all of your bottle sterilizing needs. They're affordable (each steamer bag can be reused up to 20 times) and can be compactly stashed in your diaper bag if you need to sterilize while of the house. Simply add bottles, pump parts, or accessories with water to the bag and pop it in the microwave for about two and a half minutes. Parents love these bags even when in the house, as they don't take up any counter space and are so easy to use. They come in a 12- or 15-pack for under $20. Our Lab team notes it's important to check your microwave specifications to determine the appropriate time to run your microwave for effective results.
Perfect for multiple kids, sterilize up to six bottles in just five minutes with one push of a button. The Tommee Tippee Steam Electric Sterilizer uses only natural steam to zap 99.9% of germs that may linger in baby bottles, nipples, pump parts, and toys. You'll love its compact design with two stackable trays that have enough space to fit a wide range of bottles and all of your accessories. Bottles will remain sterile for up to 24 hours sealed, so set it and forget it. We love that you can place nipples in the top rack with rings and lids already on for quick assembly once they've been sterilized.
If budget isn't a factor, this electric sterilizer and dryer combo does it all. According to the manufacturer, you can sterilize up to eight bottles, plus accessories, and kill 99.9% of harmful bacteria in 8-15 minutes. It offers three different functions with the simple touch of a button: Sterilizing in as little as eight minutes, drying that leaves bottles condensation-free and ready for use from 30 minutes to 60 minutes, and descaling to take care of hard water and calcium deposits, a common issue with steam bottle sterilizers.
It has a smart sensor that shuts the unit off automatically when it's done sterilizing, and it also has a countdown timer so you can track how much longer it will take. Bottles will stay clean for up to 24 hours with a closed lid, so you can set it up the night before and wake up to sparkling bottles ready for your baby.
When choosing your sterilizer, consider how many bottles you'll want to clean at once, the cost, how much counter space you have, and if it would be easier to have an all-in-one device that dries and stores or a simple unit that fits in the microwave when you need things cleaned. Some also include dryers, for an added bonus.
If you choose to use a bottle sterilizer for your baby's bottles, there are two ways to go about it — microwave or electric. Both types use the steam to kill approximately 99.9% of harmful bacteria in just a few minutes, so it's simply a matter of personal preference which one you should choose, and they are both safe and effective given the right devices. Here's a breakdown: