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Baby bottles in the dishwasher

Dishwashers can clean at very high temperatures, but they are not failsafe alternatives to a steriliser.

Posted: 23 January 2009
by Laura Lee Davies

When Buying a steriliser can seem costly and an overwhelmingly complicated process of choice, and you have a dishwasher already standing in the corner of your kitchen, it can be tempting simply to opt for cleaning bottles and teats along with your plates and cups. However, just because a dishwasher leaves your cutlery gleaming, there are a few factors you should bear in mind.

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Is it hot enough? Sterilisers steam intensely for a short period of time. Unless you have your dishwasher on a very hot setting, you cannot be sure that it has reached a safe, cleansing heat. However, using your washer on a high heat every cycle is not very cost- or energy-effective.

Has the water and washing liquid reached all those nooks and crannies? As you may have already noticed with other dishwashed items, unless you position your bottles and teats just right, you will find that the force of water either does not reach your feeding equipment or that pools of soapy water get left behind.

Wash thoroughly before cleaning! Whether you are using a dishwasher or a steriliser, it is vital that you thoroughly wash the teats, lids, bottles and other milk feeding or expressing items by hand first. This is especially important in your baby's first year.

Rubber can perish. The heat, loose food and detergents in a dishwasher environment can cause the bottle or teat to perish much faster that they would in a steriliser. If they go brown but are perfectly clean, there is nothing to worry about, but expensive equipment like a manual expressing kit can begin to age and deteriorate more quickly in a dishwasher.

Getting your timings right. Most dishwashers are left to cool when they have finished a cycle. In a sterilser, you can keep the whole unit sealed until you wish to use the bottle, which extends the amount of time the bottle remains sterile.

There are many models of steriliser which come with a basket for you to put all your feeding items in, to keep them in one place when dishwashing, but this is only intended as a pre-wash process before sterilising.
In the US some quarters are now more laidback about using a dishwasher rather than a steriliser, and in this country some parents are happy doing this too, but in the first year of your baby's life, a full sterilising session to prepare each batch of bottles in still regarded as good safe practice.

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