Dear Home-Ec 101,
Help! I’m a new mom cleaning baby bottles. I breastfeed my baby, and she takes breast milk in a bottle when I’m at work.
I should know the answer to this question, as I’m a pharmacist and took years of chemistry. I’m so embarrassed!
Hot, soapy water does not remove stubborn milk residue from the insides of my baby’s bottles. Breast milk has a high fat content. It’s also hard to mechanically remove the residue since my hand can’t fit in the bottle, my fingers aren’t long enough, and bottle brushes just leave streaks of milk behind!
I’m looking for a solvent. I know that alcohol dissolves lipids, but simply swishing the alcohol doesn’t work. Do I warm it up first?
Bottle it up
I would not want to use any kind of solvent in your infant’s bottles, unless they are glass, and even then I’d be hesitant.
That said there are specific instances in which I am extra careful about what cleaners I choose, an infant’s bottle is definitely one of those cases. I think of it this way, if you’re going to the trouble of breastfeeding [pullthis id=”breastfeeding” display=”outside”] Breastfeeding is demanding work. I breastfed all of my children and would make that same choice if I had to do it all over again. However, I will never try to tell a new mom that breastfeeding is the easy choice as some uber-advocates try to proclaim.[/pullthis] then don’t undo your efforts and expose your child to chemicals like pthalates (there are no pthalates in the rubbing alcohol you mentioned, but rubbing alcohol can weaken some plastics.)
Use a mild detergent*, HOT water, and PHYSICAL energy to clean out those bottles. I never bothered with bottle brushes and instead just shoved the dishcloth way down inside and twisted the heck out of it. In particularly stubborn cases I would take a chopstick and use it (inside the cloth) to get down into that stupid ridge at the bottom of the bottle. (Yes, I was also frustrated by the fat left behind.)
Very hot water and plenty of detergent (just like when we talked about how washing machines clean clothes) are what is needed to get rid of that fatty residue. My pal Amy Tucker added a squirt of soap to the bottle, a little hot water, and shook the snot out of it.
Maybe a fellow Home Eccer has stumbled upon an easier way to clean baby bottles? (Feel free to chime in, in the comments!) If not, well, just remember this is a very short period of time. You’ll only have to deal with these bottles until cup weaning which is recommended (by many pediatricians, mine included) at one year. So really, you’re going to get through this.
Hang in there.
*This is absolutely not a sponsored post, but it is an honest plug for Method which you can find at Target, Amazon, Lowes, and Soap.com. (Home Eccers you can feel free to chime in with your favorite gentle dish detergents, too.)
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