Being a new parent can be stressful. Regardless of how many books you read about parenthood, you always feel unprepared for what seems like a new battle every day.
One of the initial concerns I had when I became a parent was about the hygiene of washing baby bottles with other dishes. After all, our little bundle of joys is quite vulnerable and it is our job to protect them.
So, I pondered, can you put baby bottles in the dishwasher with other dishes?
If you are wondering the same, the short answer is yes; you can, given that the bottle you have is dishwasher safe. And that you aren’t washing them all simultaneously.
The significance of washing baby bottles: Why bother?
Before becoming a parent, one of the main things I was afraid of regarding taking care of babies was how delicate they were.
For starters, the idea of their neck not being able to support itself always overwhelmed me to the extent that I refused to hold a baby!
After becoming a parent, I realized that a baby’s vulnerability is not just related to bone development.
Instead, they are at constant risk of getting sick, owing to their developing immune system. This is where the importance of washing baby bottles comes in.
According to NHS, all of a baby’s feeding equipment, including dishwasher baby bottles as well as teats, must be kept sterilized until they reach the age of 12 months.
Inability to do so can lead to infections like vomiting and diarrhea. In the worst-case scenario, this can manifest into dehydration!
So, washing your bundle of joy’s bottle is an inconvenience you have to bear to keep your baby safe from germs and bacteria.
Apart from cleaning the bottle itself, you must also ensure that the place the equipment is stored is thoroughly cleaned.
The Golden Number: How Often To Clean A Baby Bottle?
Now that we know that washing baby bottles in the dishwasher with other dishes is acceptable, the next natural question you might have is regarding the frequency of washes.
As per CDC, as a rule of thumb, baby bottles must be cleaned after every feeding session. It doesn’t really matter if your little one hasn’t finished the milk that remains in the bottle. After two hours, all unfinished formula needs to be thrown out.
Why waste milk, you may wonder? Well, germs tend to grow very quickly in case formula or breast milk is added to a used bottle or one that is only lightly rinsed.
So, you need to sterilize it properly, which involves washing it in the dishwasher.
The Three Scenarios: When To Wash A Baby Bottle?
Before you worry about whether or not can you wash baby bottles in dishwasher with other dishes, it is important to know in what instances is washing of bottles is required.
For example, one myth I had about washing baby bottles was that it only had to be done right after use. This is not the case.
Here are the three scenarios after which washing the concerned baby bottles becomes a necessity.
- After feeding: You must disassemble the bottle completely and wash it at a hot temperature to avoid bacteria growth.
- Before use: In case after washing the bottle, you store it in a cabinet, you need to wash it again before use since wet bottles placed in closed cabinets can lead to the formation of microbes.
- Improper handling: Before picking up the bottle, you need to wash your hands properly. If you didn’t, then back goes the bottle in the dishwasher! You will be surprised how vastly spread microbes are and you can’t risk your baby’s health because of it.
The Art of Choosing A Dishwashing Detergent For Baby Bottles
Can you put bottles in the dishwasher? Yes. Should you add just any detergent when cleaning them? Absolutely not!
There are a plethora of seemingly harmless ingredients in detergents, including synthetic fragrance, phosphate, dyes, and other artificial ingredients.
But, for your developing baby and their weak immune system, these ingredients are enough to cause havoc.
Instead, you should always ensure that the:
- Ingredients of the detergent are mineral or plant-based and natural.
- Detergent is certified by the appropriate authorities.
- Detergent is made from non-toxic and safe hypoallergenic material.
A piece of friendly advice, from one parent to another. This may seem like an additional cost to you since the standard detergent is suitable for other dishes, but trust me, this is nothing compared to seeing your child getting sick from an avoidable disease!
The Three Key Elements For Washing Baby Bottles In Dishwasher
If you are considering washing baby bottles in dishwasher with other dishes, there are three things you will require to get started.
Let’s begin with the thing that started this entire debate – baby bottles. It turns out that not all bottles can be washed via a dishwasher. If you plan on using the machine, make sure to purchase dishwasher-safe bottles.
The available material includes glass, plastic, and silicone. While glass bottles are less prone to discoloration, they are also quite heavy and hence difficult to manage. Plastic is affordable and available everywhere but has a very short lifespan.
I personally find silicone to be the best of the lot, albeit significantly more pricey. This is because silicone bottles are devoid of a lot of harmful chemicals and are resistant to heat as well. Therefore, they are easier to sterilize.
Since I have already covered this part above, I won’t go into detail again. Just remember to use detergents meant for children’s bottles.
Pick options that market themselves as non-toxic. Also, the right detergent should clean up both residue as well as eliminate the lingering odor of milk.
I think I have lost count of the number of times I have misplaced the small parts (especially the disk!) of my baby’s bottle. And it wasn’t until I got a dishwasher basket that things changed.
Dishwasher baskets hold different items separately and in place, therefore making sure that everything gets cleaned properly and doesn’t get lost.
Buying a dishwasher basket would require you to decide how many bottles you are planning to wash at once.
Depending on your needs, opt for the right basket size. Most dishwasher baskets can fit at most ten nipples on top and other items below for proper cleaning.
The Cleaning Begins: How To Clean Baby Bottles In The Dishwasher
Now that you know whether or not you can put bottles in the dishwasher (hint: you can), now begins the real battle – perfecting the cleaning process.
Here are the five core steps you should take to thoroughly clean your little one’s bottle.
- Empty the bottle and disassemble its parts. Remove unused milk from the container and soak it in warm water for 20 minutes.
- Place the small items of the feeding equipment in the top section of the dishwasher basket. This section is meant for smaller items, while the lower part is meant for bottles and other bigger utensils.
- Place the baby bottle-friendly dishwasher detergent into the sprocket with dry hands.
- Change the setting to a one-hour cycle with hot water to properly sterilize the bottle.
- Air-dry all the elements of the bottle before transferring them into a container to avoid the growth of microbes.
Washing Baby Bottles In A Dishwasher: Best Practices
While the answer of “can you wash baby bottles in dishwasher with other dishes?” is a yes, there are various best practices you need to implement when using this cleaning method. This includes:
Clean The Dishwasher and Its Elements
The cleaner needs to be cleaned as well! Take a clean cloth, dishwasher-friendly detergent, antiseptic, and some warm water to clean the dishwasher and its various elements at least once a week.
The Odor Has To Go!
Just because a dishwasher is quite thorough in its cleaning doesn’t mean it does the job in all aspects. For starters, milk containers are known to have a sour residue smell that lingers.
To eliminate it, you need to do more than putting the bottle inside a dishwasher with some detergent.
Instead, use vinegar. Add a tablespoon of vinegar and hot water into the baby bottle and shake it thoroughly. Then, empty it and rinse it before putting it inside the dishwasher for cleaning.
Choose Silicone Bottles Over Other Materials
Of the three materials available, I think silicone bottles are the perfect middle ground. They are not as pricey as glass but not as porous as plastic, either.
Moreover, because they are free of harmful chemicals like BPA, PVC, and Phthalates, they are ideal for babies.
Air Dry To Prevent Microbial Growth
Wet baby bottles are home to bacteria and microbes. So, you must dry them off completely before storing them. It might be a wise idea to begin by shaking the empty bottle to remove moisture from its inner surface.
Then, place the bottle upside down on a clean surface for water to be drained.
I prefer this air drying method compared to the use of cloth. This is because regardless of how clean the cloth may look, you can never be certain that it is devoid of germs completely.
Also, it is quite common for cloth particles to accumulate inside the bottle when used, making this method unhygienic for babies.
The Dark Side Of Using A Dishwasher
Every method has its pros and cons. While dishwasher cleaning definitely is more convenient and thorough, there are a few disadvantages to using this method as well. This includes:
- Regular cleaning of bottles via dishwasher can lead to faster wear and tear of the feeding equipment, thereby requiring frequent replacements.
- If only the dishwasher is used for cleaning, discoloration may occur in the bottle. Hence, it is advised to manually rinse the bottle first as well.
- If you use plastic baby bottles, the high heat within the dishwasher may cause damage to the material. This is even true for certain silicone bottles. So, only glass is truly resistant to the world of dishwashers.
As a new parent, it is understandable to be uncertain about the right practices pertaining to your baby. But, with time, you will develop confidence.
Just remember that every decision you make should be directed towards giving your baby a safe and healthy environment.
Washing baby bottles in the dishwasher with other dishes is acceptable as long as you take the right measures along with it.
If you think you can take care of the hygiene-related issues that come with dishwasher usage, there is no reason not to use this method to save time.