How to Get Tomato (incl. Spaghetti) Stains OUT of Baby Bottles

Balint Horvath, PhD

Writer, parent, and veteran of baby feeding battles.


Are your plastic baby bottles looking discolored? The main culprit can be tomato or spaghetti stains! So, what can you do about it? Follow my step-by-step guides the next time you’re wondering how to get tomato stains out of baby bottles!

Simple cleaning agents such as baking soda, sugar, and dish liquid can help remove tomato or spaghetti stains from plastic baby bottles. Dismantling the bottle parts makes it easier to clean the bottle with a soft-bristled bottle brush and warm water to remove stubborn stains. 

How to get tomato stains out of a baby bottle

Tomatoes contain a natural chemical compound called lycopene which adheres to plastic baby bottles. This results in a reddish or pink stain that isn’t always easy to get rid of unless you use the right cleaning agents. This method uses a baking soda solution which I often use to get rid of stains from plastic containers and bottles. 

Have a look at this step-by-step instructions below.

1. Dismantle all baby bottle parts

Disassemble the bottle parts – this includes the venting system, valves, or vented base if you’re using anti-colic bottles (so no regular ones). Dismantling the baby bottle parts makes it easier to clean them.

2. Rinse the bottle with warm water 

Rinse the bottle under warm running water. You can also rinse them in the kitchen sink filled with lukewarm water. This helps to remove residue milk and tomato paste clinging to the bottle. 

3. Make a baking soda solution 

Add a teaspoon of baking soda to the bottle and fill it up with warm water. Leave the solution in the bottle overnight and rinse the next day or give it a good scrub with a bottle brush. If the nipples and other bottle parts are stained, soak them in a solution of baking soda and warm water for a couple of hours. 

4. Use a bottle brush to scrub

Use a bottle brush with soft bristles to avoid scratching the surface layer of the bottle. Keeping the baking soda solution in the bottle, give it a thorough scrub with the brush. 

5. Let it sit for 15 minutes

Once you’re done scrubbing, let the bottle sit for 15 minutes in the baking soda solution. This ensures all the stains are fully removed. 

6. Rinse the bottle

Empty the baking soda solution out of the bottle and give it a good rinse under running lukewarm water. Make sure you remove all the baking soda solution to avoid tainting the flavor of the milk at the next feed!

How to get spaghetti stains out of a baby bottle

This method uses sugar and dish soap to remove oily spaghetti sauce stains from your baby bottles.  

1. Dismantle bottle parts 

The first step to cleaning spaghetti-stained baby bottles is to dismantle all the parts. Rinse parts such as the teats, bottle cap, lid, and ring plus venting systems with lukewarm water. Leave them to soak in warm water.

2. Rinse out the leftover spaghetti in the bottle

Give the bottle a thorough rinse under the tap with running warm water to remove any leftover spaghetti sauce. You may need to do this step a couple of times to ensure all the sauce is removed. 

3. Pour sugar into the bottle

Pour 20g of regular granulated sugar into the bottle. Swirl the bottle to completely coat the surface layer. The sugar helps to lift the oily spaghetti sauce. 

4. Squeeze a tablespoon of dish soap into the bottle

Add a tablespoon of gentle, non-fragrance dish soap into the bottle. Fill the bottle with cool tap water. Some parents add a handful of crushed ice cubes at this stage which helps remove stubborn spaghetti stains. 

5. Scrub the baby bottle using a bottle brush 

Using a soft-bristled bottle brush, give the bottle a gentle scrub,. Make sure you get into all the nooks and crannies to ensure residue is removed.

6. Leave the solution to sit 

Leave the solution to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. This gives the sugar and soap time to lift the residue from the plastic. However, don’t let the solution sit for more than 30 minutes as the sugar will have dissolved and the oils will settle back into the plastic coating. 

6. Repeat the process until stains are removed

For extra-stubborn spaghetti sauce residue, you can repeat the process to remove the stains. 

7. Rinse with warm water

Hand wash the bottle in warm water and rinse it thoroughly to remove the sugary residue. You can place the bottle on the top rack of the dishwasher but make sure there are no dirty dishes with spaghetti sauce in the same wash! 

Alternative Methods – Hot Water with Dish Soap 

Hot water and a concentrated dish liquid can magically remove greasy tomato stains from your baby bottles. But, there’s one step that does the magic so don’t skip it!

1. Dismantle the bottle parts

Dismantle all the bottle parts as explained in the other cleaning methods.

2. Rinse under running warm water

Rinse the bottle and parts under running warm water to remove milk and spaghetti residue.

3. Add dish soap to hot water

Fill up the kitchen sink with hot water and add a few drops of dish soap. You can safely use Dawn dish soap to wash baby bottles as it leaves no soapy residue or fragrances after the rinse cycle.

4. Scrub with a sponge or bottle brush

Give the bottle a good scrub with a clean dish sponge or bottle brush. 

5. Rinse with warm water

Rinse the bottle well with warm water to remove dish soap otherwise your baby won’t be happy with a soapy feed! In that case you’d need an additional step of getting rid of the soapy smell in the bottle.

6. Air dry and place on the windowsill

This is the magical step I was talking about! Leave the bottle to air dry on a drying rack.and then place it on a windowsill in direct sunlight. The light from the sun will bleach out any tomato or spaghetti stains that weren’t fully removed during the wash process!

This video shows you how to hand wash baby bottles with Dawn dish soap.

Final Thoughts

When baby bottles turn yellow/orange because of tomato or spaghetti sauce make sure you use the right bottle brush and cleaning agents. Using one of my solutions should help your plastic baby bottles retain a clean appearance without discoloration!

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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