Why Baby Bottles and Nipples Turn Yellow / Orange (Solved!)

Balint Horvath, PhD

Writer, parent, and veteran of baby feeding battles.


Are your baby bottles from Avent, Dr. Brown’s, Medela, Tommee Tippee, Comotomo, or other brands’ turning yellow? And, are the nipples also starting to take on a yellow hue? If this is your problem and you’re wondering why are my baby bottles turning yellow, you’ve come to the right place.

Plastic baby bottles often turn yellow. There are a number of reasons causing this problem including the type of material used to make the bottle, the fat contents of the milk, and changes in temperature. Another reason could be the type of cleaning brush you’re using to wash the bottle. 

Why do Bottle Nipples Turn Yellow?

Silicone baby bottle nipples can turn yellow as the material breaks down and starts to crack as it disintegrates. Baby bottle nipples can also become discolored when washed in the dishwasher. Different types of formulas such as soy may also be responsible for baby bottle nipples turning yellow. 

Difference between yellow and orange stains on baby bottles

Different color drinks can change the tone of your baby bottles. Orange soda or juice can be the reason why your baby bottles turn orange. Milk or oil can be the reason your baby bottles turn yellow. Washing the bottles in the dishwasher with different types of food can also cause the color of your baby bottle to turn yellow or orange. The difference will be the color of the food and drinks that change the color of your bottles. 

Why do Baby Bottles Get Cloudy or Turn Yellow?

Breast Milk and Its Fat Content

One of the main culprits for baby bottles turning yellow or getting a cloudy appearance is breast milk. The fat content of breast milk can leave behind filmy deposits on the inside of the bottle. Even after a thorough clean, this fatty layer can still cling to the inside surface especially if the material is starting to deteriorate and has small cracks in it. 

Food and Drink Pigmentation

Natural pigmentation in some foods and drinks can cause your baby bottle to discolor. If you’re also serving juices in your baby bottle they could be the reason the bottles are changing color. Fruits such as strawberries and blueberries as well as vegetables such as carrots and pumpkin can leave stains on the bottle. Or it might be also tomato stains that might cause discoloration.

Wrong Cleaning Brushes Used

Using the wrong cleaning brush can result in the baby bottle becoming a murky yellow color. Abrasive brushes do more harm than good by breaking down the plastic or silicone material. It’s essential to use cleaning brushes designed specifically to clean baby bottles and to avoid using overly vigorous actions when using the brush. 

Also, make sure you regularly replace your brushes. Check the manufacturers’ recommendations on exactly how frequently.

The Munchkin Sponge Bottle Brush is made with soft nylon bristles gentle enough to prevent any scratches inside the bottle. Dr. Brown’s 3-Piece Bottle Brush is also a combination of sponge and bristles with a non-slip handle for easy cleaning of bottles and nipples. The OXO Tot Bottle Brush with Nipple Cleaner uses a combination of soft and firm bristles and has a flexible neck to get to those out-of-reach spots.

Bottles Cleaned in the Dishwasher With Other Items

If you’re using the dishwasher to clean your baby bottles, other items could be the reason your bottle is turning yellow. Washing baby bottles in the same wash cycle as the lasagne dish will cause your bottles to lose their clear appearance. 

Too Hot Water When Cleaning Bottle

Plastic and silicone bottles are prone to losing their original clear appearance when placed in hot water at high temperatures. While it’s essential to wash bottles in hot water to remove germs and other build-up, avoid high temperatures, especially in the dishwasher. 

Some of the most useful dishwashers for baby bottles include a baby care cleaning cycle so switch this one when cleaning bottles in this appliance. 

Using Harsh Cleaning Agents

If you’re using dish soap or detergent that includes harsh, abrasive ingredients when washing your bottles, they could be the reason they’re turning yellow or becoming cloudy. Harsh cleaning agents can cause scratches in the plastic or silicone material of the bottle. This makes it harder for stains to be removed while also causing the material to break down over time. 

Should You Dispose of Yellow Baby Bottles?

While a yellow baby bottle looks dirty, if they’re properly cleaned after every feed there’s no reason to discard or sell those baby bottles. However, the key safety factor to consider here is whether the plastic or silicone structure has disintegrated. 

Look out for any signs of cracking, chipping, or breaking down of the material used to construct the bottle. While baby bottles and nipples don’t have expiry dates, always look out for these signs of deterioration and dispose of if evident. 

How to Get Yellow Out of Baby Bottles

Using Vinegar

One of the easiest and most effective ways of removing stains from a baby bottle is using a common household ingredient – vinegar. To use this method effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Rinse the bottle thoroughly under cold or warm running water before washing with dish soap. 
  2. Rinse in warm water to remove all soapy residue. 
  3. Make an equal amount of vinegar and water using a 1:1 ratio.
  4. Soak the bottle in the vinegar and water mixture.
  5. Rinse well to remove any traces of vinegar.
  6. Leave to air dry before using at the next feed. 

Always make sure all vinegar has been removed from the bottle as it can cause milk to curdle if left in the bottle. Vinegar works well for improving discoloration but it’s not as good for removing stubborn food stains such as those caused by some fruit or vegetable juices. 

Using Baking Soda

Baking soda is another common household ingredient found in most kitchens and works well for dealing with harsh stains and bad odors. Add one teaspoon of baking soda to the bottle, fill up with warm water, and leave to soak overnight. In the morning, rinse the bottle well and wash with dish soap and a cleaning brush. 

Using Dish Soap

It’s safe to clean baby bottles with dish soap as long as it’s free of harsh chemicals. A mild dish soap containing natural cleaning agents is ideal for washing baby bottles. You can also opt to use dish soap or detergent formulated specifically for washing baby bottles. 

Dapple Baby Bottle Liquid Dish Soap is a fragrance-free, plant-based detergent safe for cleaning your baby bottles. Babyganics Foaming Dish and Bottle Soap is also a mild dish soap free from fragrances, dyes, phosphates, and phthalates

Another dish soap you can use for all your dishes including baby bottles is Seventh Generation Dish Liquid Soap, Free & Clear. It’s made with plant-based ingredients and is free of fragrances, phosphates, and triclosan. 

Bleaching Baby Bottles (Is This a Good Idea?)

When you don’t have access to clean, boiling water or steam to sanitize your baby bottle you can use bleach to sterilize them. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advice on cleaning and sanitizing infant feeding items, add 2 teaspoons of unscented bleach to 16 cups of water. Soak the bottles for 2 minutes before removing and placing on a clean surface to air dry.  

While bleach is highly effective in removing stubborn stains and discoloration from baby bottles, it’s not recommended to use this method too often. Studies have shown that the problem with bleach is that it can worsen asthma. And, combining it with other substances such as vinegar and other cleaning agents can release toxic gases.  

Watch this video as television reporters talk about the dangers of bleach and fatal lung diseases.

Specific Brands Turning Yellow

While Avent, Comotomo, Tommee Tippee baby bottles and nipples dishwasher-safe, it doesn’t mean they are protected from turning yellow or going cloudy. Other brands such as Medela and Dr. Brown’s bottles are also prone to changing color. So, what can you do about it? 

Avent Bottles Turning Yellow

While the manufacturer doesn’t offer suggestions for removing any yellow coloring from your baby bottle, it would be safe to use either vinegar or baking soda to solve the problem. Or, you could switch over from plastic to Avent’s glass baby bottles and never worry again about discoloration or murkiness. 

Tommee Tippee Bottles Turning Yellow

Tommee Tippee bottles are dishwasher-safe. But, if they’re put in with other items that have tomato paste stains on them, expect your bottles to change color. So, avoid washing in the same cycle as extra-dirty dishes. The manufacturer assures you discolored Tommee Tippee bottles are still safe to use though. 

Comotomo Bottles Turning Yellow

Comotomo bottles are made with silicone but this doesn’t stop them from becoming discolored over time. To minimize this from happening too soon, the manufacturer recommends sterilizing the bottles at least once a week in boiling water for 5 minutes.  Wash the bottles after each use and avoid using harsh cleaning agents and solvents. 

Dr. Brown’s Bottles Turning Yellow

Plastic Dr. Brown’s bottles can turn yellow or become cloudy over time. The manufacturer recommends cleaning the bottles in a solution of vinegar and water as I’ve already mentioned above. They also suggest using baking soda and warm water. Both methods also work well for removing odors caused by milk and formulas. 

Medela Bottles Turning Yellow

While Medela bottles can be safely used in the dishwasher (top rack only), they can become discolored if mixed with dishes carrying heavy food stains. Harsh detergent can also change the coloration. Use natural dish soap products as well as vinegar or baking soda solutions to remove yellow stains and murkiness from the bottles. 

Which Bottle Brands Are Stain-Resistant?

If the thought of baby bottles turning yellow freaks you out, consider buying stain-resistant products. Glass bottles are your number one go-to if you want to avoid discoloration and a cloudy appearance. 

Dr. Brown’s Options+Wide-Neck Glass Bottles are safe to use and are also one of the best bottles for reflux problems in babies. You could also use Philips Avent Natural Glass Baby Bottle made with superior-quality borosilicate glass which is completely stain-resistant. 

Why Are Baby Bottle Nipples Turning Yellow?

Baby bottle nipples will also turn yellow if washed in harsh detergents, lined with milk fat deposits, or washed incorrectly in the dishwasher. Silicone nipples can break down through wear and tear, becoming cracked and discolored. Fruit and vegetable juices will also result in nipples changing color. 

How to Get Yellow Out of Bottle Nipples

Bottle nipples can also be soaked in a vinegar and water solution to remove some staining. If you’re soaking the bottle in a baking soda and water mixture, add the nipples as well. Always make sure the nipples are rinsed and cleaned well with a gentle cleaning brush to prevent discoloration. 

Wrap Up

Baby bottles turning yellow is a common occurrence especially those constructed with plastic material. While unsightly, this discoloration doesn’t mean you have to toss the bottles out unless there are signs of deterioration in the material. Use my simple cleaning methods to remove yellow tints and murkiness so you can get more out of your baby bottles.

And have you thought about the case when baby bottles turn pink yet? That’s another problem to solve for some moms.

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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