Can I Wash Baby Bottles With Bleach? – Tips and Brands to Use

Balint Horvath, PhD

Writer, parent, and veteran of baby feeding battles.


Cleaning baby bottles can be done in a number of ways including hand washing or using the dishwasher or a bottle sterilizer. But, what if you don’t have access to any of these options? I often hear parents asking can I wash baby bottles with bleach and it got me thinking. How safe is it to use bleach in baby bottles? 

Bleach is a powerful household disinfectant and can be used to wash baby bottles. It’s safe to use as long as it’s diluted with water in the right quantities, normally two teaspoons to one gallon of water. Bleach can be used to sanitize bottles when other methods aren’t available

Key takeaways

  • Bleach is safe for washing baby bottles when it’s diluted with water.
  • Cleaning baby bottles with bleach helps to get rid of germs and eliminate foul odors.
  • Bleach is corrosive to plastic making it a bad choice for baby bottles made from this material.
  • Using Clorox Regular Bleach or Seventh Generation chlorine-free bleach is recommended for baby bottles.
  • Use the steps in this article to sanitize baby bottles safely with bleach. 

Is it safe to clean baby bottles with bleach? 

Keeping baby bottles clean is vital to prevent contamination of the milk and while not the number one preferred choice, it is safe to use bleach. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describe how to clean, sanitize, and store bottles so you don’t have to worry about germs infesting your baby. 

CDC recommends washing baby bottles after every feed and they suggest hand washing or using the dishwasher (if the items are dishwasher-safe.) By the way, you can use Dawn dish soap to clean baby bottles by hand!

When it comes to extra protection, sanitizing the bottles can be done using the following methods:

  • Placing rinsed bottles in boiling water for five minutes.
  • Streaming rinsed and disassembled bottles and parts in a steamer system or microwave.
  • Using the dishwasher set at a high temperature for the wash and ending with the heated drying cycle. 

If you don’t have access to any of these options, you can use a bleach solution. It’s vitally important to dilute bleach with water and not use it straight out of the bottle as neat concentrations can be harmful. Diluting bleach with water prevents irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. 

Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when making a bleach solution as this makes it safe to use when cleaning baby bottles. 

What does bleach do when using it to clean baby bottles?

Bleach is a powerful disinfectant which is why many parents use it to clean and sanitize baby bottles. It removes germs including most viruses and bacterias that could be lurking in the bottles and it helps to eliminate foul odors caused by milk residue. Bleach can help remove stains as well. 

However, cleaning and disinfecting with bleach requires diluting it with water for safe use in baby bottles. 

Does bleach damage plastic bottles?

Bleach isn’t only a powerful cleaning agent but it’s also corrosive to plastic! While using it may not eat up your plastic baby bottles immediately, over time signs of deterioration will be obvious. Most household bleach products act as an oxidizing agent and when it comes into contact with plastic, it reacts by slowly decomposing the surface layer of the bottle. 

If the bleach solution isn’t rinsed properly after each clean, your plastic baby bottles show signs of damage, forcing you to replace them sooner than you normally would. Poor-quality plastic oxidizes faster so if you’re using cheap baby bottles, expect them to have a very short lifespan. 

Is there a specific bleach for baby bottles? 

There isn’t a specific bleach for baby bottles however, using a regular brand diluted in water is safe enough to use. Some manufacturers produce a tablet form which can be mixed with water to create an antibacterial solution for cleaning and sanitizing baby bottles safely. 

How long do you soak baby bottles in bleach?

Baby bottles can be soaked for at least two minutes in a bleach solution. A longer time isn’t necessary especially if you want to preserve the integrity of the plastic bottle material. 

How do you get the bleach smell out of baby bottles?

You can get rid of baby bottles that smell of soap but what about bleach? Bleach has a strong, offensive smell which normally disappears after some time. However, if you find your baby bottles are reeking of this disinfectant after a wash, try the following methods to get rid of the smell:

  • Soak the bottle and parts in cold water for a few hours.
  • Wash the bottles with warm water and mild detergent thoroughly before rinsing them with cold running water.
  • Put the bottles in the top rack of the dishwasher and use a hot water cycle to eliminate the bleach odor.
  • Rinse thoroughly under running cold water a few times once you’ve bleached the bottles.

Sanitizing the baby bottles using the boiling or steaming method saves you from having to use a bleach solution. If the smell continues to bother you, it might be better to stick to either of these methods instead. 

Bleach brands that can be used to clean baby bottles 

Clorox Regular Bleach can be used to clean baby bottles by adding two teaspoons per gallon of water to make a cleaning solution. Leave the feeding items to drain dry. Seventh Generation makes a chlorine-free bleach which is biodegradable, fragrance-free, and hypoallergenic. Both brands need to be diluted with water for safe use. 

How to clean baby bottles with bleach

Daily sanitizing of baby bottles is highly recommended for newborns under the age of two months or if your little one has a weakened immune system. Sanitizing bottles becomes less necessary if your baby is older and healthy. Use the following steps to sterilize baby bottles with a bleach solution. 

Take bottles apart 

Take the bottles apart by disassembling all the parts. If they haven’t already been washed, rinse the bottles and parts thoroughly under cold or lukewarm water to remove milk residue. 

Make a bleach solution

Make a bleach solution by adding two teaspoons of fragrant-free bleach to one gallon or 16 cups of clean water. Ensure you use a clean wash basin when making the bleach solution and check the manufacturer’s guidelines for the correct measurements. 

Soak baby bottle items

Soak all the baby bottle items in the bleach solution ensuring that they’re fully submerged in the water. Make sure there are no air bubbles in the bottles and that the bleach solution is touching all parts of the bottle and other items. Squeeze the solution through the nipple holes and leave the items to soak for at least two minutes. 

Rinse baby bottles 

Remove the baby bottles and parts with clean tongs and rinse under clean water placing on a drying rack. Don’t use your hands to remove or rinse the baby bottles as you could transfer germs back to the cleaned items.

Leave to dry 

Leave the baby bottle items to air-dry on a drying rack. The bleach will disintegrate, making the bottles safe to use at the next feed. Don’t be tempted to dry the bottles with a dishcloth; you run the risk of adding germs to the clean items. You may use some special paper towels though when you’re on the go.


Using dishwasher-safe Avent, Comotomo, and Tommee Tippee bottles and nipples saves you from the hassles of having to use other methods to sterilize them. However, if you need to resort to using bleach, it’s safe to do so as long as you dilute it into a solution. You can use this method also after you get rid of mold in a baby bottle in order to sterilize them regularly. This way you could even potentially use the same bottle for multiple feedings throughtout the day.

Another great way to keep baby bottles clean is by washing them with baby shampoo or dish-soap, such as from Fairy Liquid. Here’s my article specifically on how to get rid of milk smell in baby bottles.

Photo of author


I’m Balint, founder of this site and a father (and dad) to a baby-turned toddler. I found the world of babies so fascinating that I started a blog dedicated only to that topic. By the way, I studied physics, engineering (PhD, MSc), and therefore I do a thorough research when I write about something. Since it’s a blog, of course I also write about my personal experiences.

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