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How to Clean Baby Bottles With Vinegar


Parents know how important it is to keep their baby bottles clean and sanitized. It’s not unusual for the residue to make its place on your bottles regardless of how much you clean them. However, learning how to clean baby bottles with vinegar may make you re-think your whole cleaning routine. 

Soak Bottles in White Vinegar and Hot Water

bottles washing in a bowl of soap

You’ll want to soak your bottles in two equal parts of white vinegar and hot water. Once you have soaked them for about 25 minutes, you’ll want to rinse them clean with cold water. If the vinegar isn’t completely doing the trick, add a tablespoon of baking soda to the mix. I really feel like vinegar and baking soda fix everything. They also can make a pretty cool volcano, but that’s for a whole other article. 

In addition, it’s a good idea to pick up one of the best dish soap for baby bottles. While vinegar is a great bonus cleaner, you want to make sure you still use soapy water. It ensures you are getting any germs off of the bottle after your baby has fed from it. 

One of the best parts of using vinegar to clean baby bottles is the price. Most vinegar comes extremely cheap, especially if you pick up a store brand. I’m all for hacks that don’t break the bank. 

Finally, if you don’t thoroughly wash out the vinegar, it can cause curdling of formula or breastmilk. Your little one will be unhappy with the change of taste to their meal. It will also spoil future bottles, and that’s just a waste of liquid gold. Once your bottles have been thoroughly cleaned, put them on a drying rack to air dry. 

Cleaning Breastmilk Pump Parts 

You can also use the vinegar hack on your breastmilk pump parts. I remember getting so frustrated because I always felt like I wasn’t cleaning the parts well enough. Pump parts are culprits for storing milk residue, and it can get gross. In fact, thoroughly cleaning your pump parts will make your pumping more effective, and you may see more liquid gold coming out. 

Depending on how often you are pumping, the parts involved can see a lot of use. If you aren’t vigilant about cleaning them between uses, you are more prone to a build-up of leftover breastmilk. I exclusively pumped for my third, so I know how exhausting it can be. 

I sometimes would throw my used pump parts in the fridge when I couldn’t clean them right away. While this is an okay move in a pinch, you want to make sure you are cleaning the ins and outs of your pump parts. 

Finally, just like with bottles, you want to make sure you rinse out the parts with cold water after using vinegar. Otherwise, you could end up with an unpleasant vinegar taste the next time you go to pump. Don’t worry; your baby will let you know. 

Benefits of Using Vinegar to Clean Baby Bottles 

Removes Odors 

While warm soapy water may help remove the film from the inside of the bottle, vinegar will help remove any lingering odors. I am completely guilty of not cleaning my bottles right away, and breastmilk likes to make itself at home on the inside.

True story: I somehow misplaced a bottle with breastmilk remnants, and my husband found it months later in between the couch cushions as we were getting ready to move. At the time, I told him to throw it away, but the reality is I could have given it a good cleaning if I had the time. However, the bottle and I were on different sides of the country. 

Instead of throwing the bottle away, whip out your jug of vinegar and get to work. It might seem easier to get rid of the gross bottle, but it’s a waste of money to throw out a perfect bottle. It’s also more eco-friendly to work with what you already have. 

Helps Eliminate Stains 

If you are scrubbing until your hand feels like it’s going to fall off, but the stains on your bottles don’t seem to go anywhere, it’s time to pull out the vinegar. White vinegar is almost like the secret way to remove those pesky stains. But, you’re in luck because the secret is out. 

Even if you’ve scrubbed to your heart’s content, you probably won’t feed your little one with a stained bottle. That’s why it’s a good idea to spend a couple of bucks on a jug of white vinegar and keep it handy for when you start to notice stains forming on your baby bottles. 

I also recommend working on the stains as soon as they show their face. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get built-in stains out. 

Keeps Bottle Nipples Clean 

Milk has a pesky habit of clogging up in nipples if they aren’t thoroughly cleaned. Using vinegar will help prevent residue from building up and will prevent your little one from having a hard time drinking from their bottle. I always would make a point to use my thumb to push water through the nipple to ensure nothing was blocking the hole. You learn a trick or two after three kids. 

In addition, bottle nipples can also be prone to cloudiness, and vinegar helps clear things up. Residue from breastmilk and formula are typically the culprits of cloudiness. However, soaking it in the vinegar/water solution will help things clear up. I mean, is there anything vinegar can’t do? 

What Makes Vinegar So Great At Cleaning 

You may be wondering why vinegar is so great at cleaning baby bottles and pretty much anything else lying around our house. (You can use it on baby toys, too!) Vinegar is extremely acidic and helps dissolve grime, dirt, grease, and anything else left behind on surfaces. 

White vinegar is truly the best cleaning agent because it won’t leave any stains on its surfaces. One major reason it’s great for baby bottles is that we use vinegar to get rid of stains.

The smell of vinegar isn’t necessarily pleasant, but it will fade away while you look at your sparkling clean baby bottle. In addition, as long as you rinse the bottles after cleaning with vinegar, you are less likely to smell the pungent odor of vinegar. 

Finally, vinegar is eco-friendly and non-toxic, making it ideal for cleaning something that goes into our baby’s mouth. 

FAQs – Cleaning Baby Bottles with Vinegar

What’s the best way to prevent bottle odors?

It’s important to clean your baby’s bottles as soon as you can. The longer the leftovers sit, the harder it will be to clean in the long run. You also want to make sure to clean the bottles instead of just rinsing them out thoroughly. Invest in a quality bottle brush to ensure you get into all of those crevices. 

In addition, if you know if you won’t be able to clean your bottles right away, keep them in the fridge until it’s cleaning time. This will slow down any bacteria’s growth inside the bottle and make it easier to clean once you are ready. 

Finally, if you don’t see a difference in the cleanliness of your bottles, it might be time to switch to glass bottles. They are much easier to clean than silicone and plastic bottles, and you’ll probably be more satisfied with how clean they look. Just be careful if your little one tries to handle the glass bottles. 

What’s the best type of vinegar to use to clean baby bottles?

You will want to make sure you buy white vinegar when it comes to cleaning baby bottles. You likely will find one or two brands at Target, but Amazon has plenty of vinegar to choose from. If you are looking for something all-natural, I recommend Lucy’s Natural Distilled Vinegar. It’s a little pricier than your average jug, but I like that the company is family-run and takes pride in the product they sell. 

Can I rinse out my baby bottles?

If time isn’t on your side, you may wonder if you can rinse out a baby bottle. Unfortunately, germs can grow fairly quickly from a dirty bottle, and rinsing them out won’t get them thoroughly clean. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends cleaning baby bottles with hot soapy water or running them through the dishwasher after each use. 

Make a point to separate each part of the bottle to ensure a thorough cleaning. It’s extra important to sanitize bottles daily if your child is under 3 months, if they were premature, or have any other health condition. If your baby doesn’t check one of those boxes, you can limit sanitizing to once a week. 

RELATED: The Best Bottle Sanitizers of 2021

Final Thoughts 

Now you know how to clean baby bottles with vinegar, and you’ll be on your way to crystal clear bottles. Remember to rinse them out thoroughly, so your little one doesn’t end up with an awkward vinegar taste. 

As a final note, it’s important to clean your bottles daily and sanitize them at least once a week, unless your baby requires it more frequently. This will ensure you are providing your baby with the cleanest possible bottle. As parents, we only want to give them the best. 


Kelly O'Lone    

I am a stay-at-home mom with three little ones, ages 6, 5 and 3. They certainly keep me on my toes for the majority of the day. My favorite way to parent is through humor and making my kids laugh. In my spare time, I enjoy writing about my parenting experiences and finding DIY projects around the house.



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