Can I Use Dawn Dish Soap to Wash Baby Bottles? (Safe?)

Balint Horvath, PhD

Writer, parent, and veteran of baby feeding battles.


Washing baby bottles can become quite a tiresome job for parents so the last thing you want to worry about is whether you’re using the right dish soap or not. You might be wondering if you can use Dawn dish soap to wash baby bottles and is it REALLY safe? It’s a fair question as Dash dish soap is very very popular among parents and it’s better to be on the safe side. 

Dawn dish soap can be used when washing baby bottles. It’s safe and leaves no soapy residue or fragrances when rinsed well. Use warm water and a bottle brush to get the best results. Baby bottles can also be given a wash in the dishwasher every now and then, for a thorough clean. 

Is It Safe to Wash Baby Bottles With Dawn Dish Soap?

The answer is yes, you can use Dawn dish soap to wash baby bottles as it’s safe to use it as long as you use one of its products with a gentler formula. Avoid using any of the brand’s cleaning products such as Dawn Antibacterial Dishwashing Liquid as the formula contains degreaser and strong fragrances

How to Properly Clean Baby Bottles With Dawn Dish Soap

The manufacturers of Dawn dish soap recommend using their product because it doesn’t leave a soapy residue as long as you give the bottle and parts a good rinse after washing. 

To get your baby bottles hygienically clean when hand washing them, use the following steps. 

Step #1

Have all the right cleaning materials on hand. These include:

  • A dishwashing sponge
  • Baby bottle brush – The Munchkin Sponge Bottle Brush works well as it has both a sponge and nylon bristles for giving your bottles and parts a good clean. The soft nipple brush works well for cleaning the teats.
  • Dawn dish soap – it’s recommended to use the Dawn Free & Clear Dishwashing Liquid as it’s free of dyes, heavy fragrances, and phosphates
  • Drying rack

Step #2

After feeding your baby, rinse the bottle under warm running water to remove any milky residue. At this stage, you can set the bottle aside and do a full wash at the end of the day when you have more bottles to wash. 

Step #3

Fill up a large bowl with hot water and add a squirt of Dawn dish soap. Mix the water for suds to form. Separate the different parts of the bottle. This is important to ensure the ring, nipple, and lid are well-cleaned. If not, milk residue will build up in these parts. 

Step #4

Place all the bottles and separated parts into the hot soapy water. Using the bottle brush, give the bottle a good clean, reaching into all the nooks and crannies to remove any leftover milk. Use the nipple brush to clean the teat and other parts. 

Step #5

Use the dishwashing sponge to squeeze soapy water through the teat. Rinse the nipple under warm running water to remove any excess soap. Do the same with all the other parts as well as the bottle. This way you can have peace of mind that all soapy residue has been removed.

Step #6

Place the bottle and parts on a drying rack to air dry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise not using a towel to dry them as you risk contaminating them with germs. 

Watch this video which shows you how to hand wash baby bottles using dish soap.

What if Your Baby Bottles Still Smell Like Soap After Washing Them?

If your baby bottles still smell of soap after washing them, there are a number of reasons for this happening. The solutions are simple!

  • Don’t use cold water: The main culprit for this problem is rinsing the bottles, after using dish soap, with cold water. This isn’t sufficient for removing soapy residues. Always use warm, running water to remove soap smells from your baby bottles when you’re done washing them. 
  • Using too much dish soap: If you’re squirting too much dish soap into the washing water, it’s going to be difficult to remove all excess soap suds when rinsing. You only need a drop of dish soap so go easy on how much you use!
  • Avoid fragrances: Many dish soap brands add heavy perfumes to their product. It’s best to avoid fragrances in dish soaps so your baby bottles remain odor-free. 
  • Use running water: Note that I mention running water when rinsing. Rinsing your bottles and parts in a bowl of fresh water won’t do the job as soapy residue will build up in the rinsing water. And, while your first bottle may escape the smell of soap, others won’t. 
  • Use the right tools: A baby bottle brush is a must-have when washing bottles. They work well for removing all traces of milk and excess soap. To make sure you have the right tool, ensure you replace your brush every 30-45 days.
  • The bottles have deteriorated: When plastic bottles start to break down, it becomes easier for odors to be absorbed into the materials. This includes dish soap smells. Replace old bottles and parts when you start to see the materials deteriorating. 

I’ve written an in-depth article on why baby bottles smell of soap. Read it if you want to find out more about how to get rid of that soapy smell in your baby bottles. 

What Other Soap is OK to Use to Wash Baby Bottles?

Can I Use Normal Dish Soap to Wash Baby Bottles?

Dawn would be classified as normal dish soap. It contains ingredients found in most other dish soaps and unfortunately, they’re not completely free of toxins. However, as I’ve mentioned above, Dawn Free & Clear is safer than most normal dish soaps. 

When buying a normal dish soap for baby bottles, look out for those that don’t include artificial fragrances or harsh cleaning agents. Check the manufacturer’s label to ensure there’s no sodium lauryl sulfate (sls), or sodium laureth sulfate (sles). Here’s a separate article I wrote about if you can use regular dish soap to wash baby bottles and there you’ll find various options regarding dish soap brands.

Can I Use Palmolive Dish Soap to Wash Baby Bottles?

You can safely use the Palmolive Pure + Clear Dishwashing Liquid to clean your baby bottles. It’s free of dyes, degreaser agents, and artificial fragrances. It’s also free of bleach

This Palmolive dish soap doesn’t contain phosphates and is hypoallergenic. It works well in removing milky residues from baby bottles and can also be used to clean pacifiers and toys safely. 

Is Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap Safe for Baby Bottles?

If you’re looking for an ultra-safe, plant-based alternative to Palmolive or Dawn dish soaps consider using Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap. This product is made without phthalates and parabens, MEA, or DEA

It uses natural fragrances such as lemon verbena to give a fresh scent so you don’t have to worry about soapy smells in your bottles after washing with this dish soap. However, it’s still recommended to rinse after washing to remove excess soap. 

Is Ajax Dish Soap Safe for Baby Bottles?

It’s best to avoid using Ajax dish soap for cleaning baby bottles as these cleaning products do include harmful chemicals as well as strong degreaser agents, fragrances, and other abrasive ingredients. 

Can I use Fairy Liquid Dish Soap to wash baby bottles?

Last, but not least, you can safely use Fairy liquid as long as you rinse your bottles well afterwards. This is what I discussed extensively in another article on my website.

Should You Put Baby Bottles (and Parts) Into the Dishwasher?

If your baby bottle and accessories are dishwasher-safe, it’s quick and easy to clean them in this appliance. Baby bottle manufacturers always recommend placing the bottles and parts in the top rack. It’s also highly recommended to use dishwasher baskets for baby bottles and parts to keep them contained during a wash cycle. 

Some of the top dishwashers for baby bottles include a specific baby care wash cycle for cleaning baby bottles and parts hygienically and safely. 


Normally, moms get dish soap from the hospital when returning home with their newborns. Otherwise, you’re left to find the best dish soap for handwashing baby bottles. Dawn is a relatively safe option. Look for a gentle dish soap with fewer harmful chemicals or opt for a plant-based dishwashing liquid if you want to be ultra-safe.  

In my other aritcle on how to eliminate milk smell out of your baby bottles, besides the method using Dawn (as described in this article), you’ll find also other techniques.

I found that Dawn is also great for washing tomato stains out of baby bottles, which I wrote about in a separate article.

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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