Can I Wash Baby Bottles with Well Water? – A Guide for Safe Cleaning

Balint Horvath, PhD

Writer, parent, and veteran of baby feeding battles.


As a new parent, you might be wondering if you can wash your baby bottle with well water? I know, just like me, you want to ensure that everything your baby uses is clean and safe. What if you have well water you use in your household? Here’s the quick answer below.

Using well water and a good dishwashing soap is generally safe when cleaning baby bottles. Before using well water to clean bottles, it’s important to ensure that the water is safe and free from contaminants. Test the water for bacteria, nitrates, and other harmful substances. 

Key takeaways

  • Well water is considered a natural source of water
  • Municipal water is supplied by a public water system 
  • You can wash baby bottles in well water if the water has been thoroughly tested
  • Well water can stain baby bottles if there’s a high level of minerals in the water 
  • You should test the water quality to ensure it’s safe for bottle washing 
  • Well water is considered unsafe to make baby formula 
  • Well water is not considered safe for newborns 
  • It’s recommended to use a bottle sterilizer after washing bottles 
  • The best alternatives to well water is distilled or purified water 

What is considered well water? 

A well is referred to as a hole in the ground where you can collect water from an underground source. 

Well water is considered to be a natural source of water that is extracted from aquifers, which are underground layers of permeable rock or soil that contain water. The water in these aquifers may have originated from rainfall or other sources and has percolated through the ground to collect in the aquifer.

The quality and composition of well water can vary depending on the geological characteristics of the area, such as the type of rock or soil that the well is drilled into. Factors such as location, depth, and proximity to potential sources of contamination can also affect the quality of well water.

Here’s a video that gives a quick overview of different types of well water.

Well water vs. municipal water

Municipal water is supplied by a public water system. You can access municipal water simply by turning on your taps. On the other hand, well water is typically sourced privately by individual property owners or communities.

Additionally, municipal water comes from treatment plants that process water from various sources such as rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. This type of water goes through rigorous testing and treatment processes to ensure it meets safety standards. 

Well water allows you to have more control over the quality and source of your water, as you can implement your own filtration and treatment systems

Can you wash baby bottles in well water? 

You can wash baby bottles in well water. However, it is important to note that the quality of well water can vary depending on various factors such as the source of the well, the location, and any potential contaminants present in the water. 

It’s recommended to test the well water regularly to ensure it’s safe for drinking and use in household activities, including washing baby bottles.

Can well water stain baby bottles? 

Well water can potentially stain baby bottles, depending on the mineral content and quality of the water. 

This type of water often contains minerals such as iron, manganese, and calcium. These minerals can leave stains and discoloration on surfaces. Minerals can also build up inside baby bottles over time, leading to stains. Stains from minerals is a topic I wrote about when in this article on hard water residue on baby bottles.

To prevent staining, it’s recommended to use a water filtration system to remove excess minerals from the well water before using it to clean baby bottles. Additionally, regularly cleaning and sterilizing the bottles can help prevent mineral buildup and staining. 

Using a bottle brush frequently and applying regular dish soap to scrub the bottles thoroughly can remove any stains that may have formed. I’ve used vinegar to remove stains from baby’s bottles and it worked to remove build-up. 

What to consider when using well water to wash baby bottles

Now that you know more about well water, here are a few factors to consider before washing your baby’s bottles in this type of water. 

Water Quality

Test the well water regularly to ensure it meets the necessary standards for drinking water. Well water can sometimes contain contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, or chemicals, so it is important to have it tested for safety. 

Two of the most common tests for well water safety are Coliform bacteria and E. coli. These tests are to determine the microbiological safety of well water. This video below shows you how to test well water for bacteria.

Water Treatment

If the well water doesn’t meet the necessary standards, consider using water treatment methods such as filtration or disinfection to remove any contaminants. Consult with a water treatment professional to determine the best method for your specific well water.

When you know for a fact that the well water is 100% safe to drink then you can use the water to clean your baby’s bottles. 

Is well water safe to make formula? 

According to Nationwide Children’s, it’s not recommended to use well water to make baby formula unless it has been tested and deemed safe for consumption. Well water can also be contaminated with pesticides if you live near agricultural areas which makes the water unsafe for babies. 

Consider using distilled or purified water to make your baby’s formula to avoid potential health risks. 

Is well water safe for newborns? 

Newborns have developing immune systems that may not be able to fight off certain contaminants present in well water. They can be more susceptible to waterborne illnesses and infections. Therefore, it’s important to provide them with safe and clean water when making formula. 

Do you need a bottle sterilizer when using well water to wash bottles? 

When using well water to wash bottles, it’s generally recommended to use a bottle sterilizer to ensure that the bottles are properly cleaned and free from harmful bacteria. 

A bottle sterilizer is designed to kill bacteria on bottles, nipples, and other feeding accessories. It uses high temperatures, steam, or other methods to eliminate harmful microorganisms that may be present in the bottles.

Using a bottle sterilizer is especially important when using well water, as it may not be as clean or treated as tap water. You could safely use a second hand sterilizer or a new one if you have more budget available. What’s more, there are other uses for bottle sterilizers like removing bacteria from toys or steaming baby food. 

How do you clean baby bottles using well water? 

Cleaning baby bottles using well water requires a few additional steps to ensure that the bottles are cleaned properly. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to clean baby bottles using well water:

Step 1. Gather supplies 

You will need baby bottles, bottle brushes, dish soap, a clean dish towel or bottle drying rack, and a pot or kettle for boiling water.

Step 2. Start by rinsing the bottles 

Before cleaning the bottles, rinse them thoroughly with cold water to remove any leftover milk or formula. 

Step 3. Use the right soap

When you wash baby bottles you want to make sure you’re using the right soap. There are soaps specifically formulated to clean baby bottles. These products can be made from all-natural ingredients. Or you can use Dawn dish soap to clean bottles

Step 4. Fill your sink with hot water

Fill a sink or basin with hot water and add a few drops of dish soap. Use a bottle brush to scrub the inside and outside of the bottles, including the nipples and caps. Pay special attention to any areas with dried milk or formula residue. Rinse the bottles thoroughly with hot water to remove all soap residue.

Step 5. Boil the bottles

Fill a large pot or kettle with well water and bring it to a rolling boil. Place the cleaned bottles, nipples, and caps into the boiling water. Let them boil for at least 5 minutes to ensure proper sterilization. Make sure all the parts are fully submerged in the water.

Step 6. Remove the bottles from the water 

Use tongs or a clean spoon to carefully remove the bottles from the boiling water. Place them on a clean dish towel or bottle drying rack to air dry. Avoid touching the inside of the bottles or nipples with your hands to maintain cleanliness.

Step 7. Inspect your bottles

Once the bottles are dry, inspect them for any remaining residue or dirt. If you notice any, repeat the cleaning process or use a designated bottle sterilizer if you have one.

Step 8. Store the bottles in a clean, dry place

Once the bottles are completely dry, store them in a clean and dry area until they are ready to be used. Avoid storing them with the nipples and caps attached to prevent moisture buildup.

The best alternative to using well water to wash baby bottles

If there are concerns about the quality of well water, such as high levels of minerals or bacteria, it may be necessary to use alternative water sources for washing baby bottles. 

Consider using bottled water or installing a water filtration system to improve the quality of the well water. You can also install a water cooler in your home so you have access to purified water to clean bottles. 


So there you have it. You can use well water to clean your baby’s bottles. Simply make sure that you test your water regularly to check for any contaminants. With well water, you can also wash your baby’s bottles in a dishwasher. But make sure you have the best dishwasher detergent for baby bottles to remove bacteria or stains.

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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