Can You Dry Baby Bottles with Paper Towels? – Quick and Safe Methods

Balint Horvath, PhD

Writer, parent, and veteran of baby feeding battles.


Feeding time can be quite stressful if you’re trying to comfort a fussing baby and clean bottles at the same time. That may leave you looking for the fastest way to dry your baby bottles and accessories. With that in mind, can you dry baby bottles with a paper towel?

Baby bottles can be dried with a paper towel if you follow a few strict guidelines. For starters, always opt for a lint-free paper towel to avoid any transference of germs and fluff. Allowing the bottle to air dry for a few minutes will also make the process more hygienic. 

Key takeaways

  • Paper towels can be used to dry baby bottles
  • Always opt for lint-free or non-linting paper towels to reduce the transference of bacteria
  • Store paper towels in a zip-lock bag or air-tight container to keep the paper towels clean and dry
  • There are several benefits to using paper towels such as being easy to travel with, they can be used for a variety of other purposes and they’re also more hygienic than dishcloths 

Is it safe to use paper towels to dry baby bottles?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask. Some sources believe that you should never use paper towels to dry baby bottles or their accompanying accessories. However, in an article about cleaning infant feeding items, the CDC recommends using paper towels because they are more hygienic than drying racks and dishcloths. 

To ensure that there is no transference of potential germs, dust or lint, it’s always recommended to use lint-free paper towels. Ensure that the paper towels you’re using are stored in an airtight container to avoid any germs or dust settling on them. While most paper towels are considered to be lint-free, some cheaper brands have been found to leave behind a small trail of lint. Opt for quality paper towels that specify that they are “lint-free” or “non-linting.”

Paper towels vs air drying

Many people still believe that nothing beats good old-fashioned air drying. But, just how does air drying compare to using paper towels? Let’s find out.

Features to ConsiderPaper TowelsAir Drying
Ease of useEasyRequires space or a drying rack
Drying timeRequires the few seconds it takes for you to wipe the bottle dryRequires anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes
HygienicMore hygienic than dishclothsMore hygienic than drying racks that may trap moisture
Travel friendlyEasy to put paper towels in the baby’s diaper bagYou may not always find a suitable space to air dry your bottles when you’re on the go

The benefits of using a paper towel to dry baby bottles 

Quick drying

Paper towels are quick drying. Choosing quality paper towels with higher absorbency will ensure that your bottles and accessories will be dry in a matter of seconds. 

More hygienic compared to dishcloths

While paper towels might be risky from a germ and bacteria point of view, they are definitely more hygienic than your usual kitchen dishcloth. While dishcloths are reused, paper towels are discarded as soon as they’ve been used.

You can travel with them 

Paper towels can easily be placed in your little one’s diaper bag and used whenever you need them. It’s as simple as taking them out of their container (if you’ve packed them in a handy container) or tearing a piece off the roll. Keep in mind that simply putting the roll in the diaper bag may expose them to germs. I suggest tearing off usable sheets and placing them in a container or ziplock bag

Paper towels have other uses 

Quite possibly the biggest advantage of paper towels is that they have a ton of other uses. Here are just a few of the uses they’re good for:

  • Clearing up spills
  • Cleaning the baby if you’re out of wet wipes
  • Blowing a runny nose
  • Wiping off anything else you’re using around the baby
  • Use as a napkin for your own lunch–handy for moms on the go, who also need to eat

Types of paper towels to use for drying baby bottles

Ideally, there are two factors that you should consider when you’re looking for a suitable paper towel. It should be absorbent and of course, as I’ve already mentioned, it must be lint-free. Opt for two-ply sheets that are big enough to get the job done quickly and without a fuss.

What is the proper way to dry baby bottles?

The way you choose to dry your baby bottles depends largely on what works best for you. Some parents might prefer using paper towels. Others may feel that opting for air drying and avoiding any contact with clothes that can transfer germs is the better way to go. You may even feel that a bottle dryer is a better option. I’ve compiled the steps to follow for these three ways to ensure you avoid bacteria altogether. 

Using paper towels

If you’re going to opt for the convenience of using paper towels, the good news is that the process is quick and simple. It also means you can wash and dry your bottles anywhere without too much hassle. Simply follow these easy steps:

  • Wash the bottles as normal – this can be done by boiling them on the stove, a sterilizer, dishwasher or even by hand using baby shampoo, or even bleach
  • Rinse all the parts thoroughly and shake as much water out
  • Ensure that the paper towels are lint-free and then simply wipe the inside of the bottle until it’s dry
  • Dry the exterior of the bottle 
  • Check that the bottle and accessories don’t have any lint or fluff on them before storing them or using them

Air drying on a drying rack

Many parents opt for specific drying racks specially designed for baby bottles and accessories. That means, these racks have spaces to place the bottles, rings, caps, nipples and other parts. It’s convenient because your bottle parts won’t get lost and also won’t become contaminated from other dishes that may be on a normal rack.

To use a drying rack, simply follow these few easy steps:

  • Wash your bottles as usual
  • Rinse the bottles and accessories thoroughly
  • Place the bottles and parts on the drying rack and leave them to dry for a couple of hours
  • Pack the bottles away to avoid exposure to germs and bacteria

Opting for a baby bottle dryer

Bottle dryers are really just sterilizers with a drying function. Even though a bottle sterilizer can have many uses, if drying feature is an option you’re considering, be sure to check that the sterilizer you’re opting for really has this feature. Using this function is as simple as flipping a switch once the sterilizing cycle is complete. Many parents prefer this option as it’s an excellent way to get rid of germs and bacteria. 

Here’s a short clip to show you how easy it is to clean and dry your baby bottles.


No matter what your stance is on using paper towels around your baby, the reality is, they are very handy. If you opt for quality paper towels, and keep them sealed in a bag or container, the risk of them transferring germs or bacteria to your baby is very minimal. Furthermore, they have a bunch of other uses that make them super handy!

One scenario when they come handy is traveling, just like bottle liners which are used when you’re on the go which I also recommmended in a separate article on how to sterilise baby bottles in a hotel.

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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