Mother and Baby

The best sterilisers to buy for babies 2021

Section: Baby
The best bottle steriliser

When it comes to buying a steriliser for your baby, the options really can seem endless – do you go for steam, microwave or electric? And even then, which brand should you buy? To make things easier, we’ve found the best bottle sterilisers on the market to help you make the best decision.

Why do you need a steriliser?

Milk is the perfect first food for your baby, as it’s easy to digest and full of all the nutrients they need. But it also contains bacteria that can upset your baby's tummy if traces are left on feeding equipment and given time to multiply.

That’s why we sterilise our babies’ bottles, as this is the best way to kill bacteria. It makes it impossible for germs to survive and be passed on to your baby. This helps babies, as they don’t start producing germ-fighting antibodies until they're six months old, but by the time baby reaches their first birthday, their body will be able to kill off bacteria all by itself. 

The NHS say that it is important to sterilise all your baby's feeding equipment, including bottles and teats until they are at least 12 months old.

What are the different types of steriliser?

There are six different types of bottle steriliser. Let’s take a look at how each different steriliser works, and the pros and cons of each to help you work out what kind you need.

Electric steam sterilisers

As the name suggests, these clean your baby’s bottles, dummy and breast pump by using steam to kill germs. This will need to be plugged into the mains and work like a kettle – heating the water, which turns into steam and sterilises the items inside.

The pros: Steam sterilisers are now being developed with fast cycles, which is always a winner. This is a great option if you don’t have a microwave in your kitchen.

The cons: You will need to clean or descale the elements every few weeks which can be time-consuming. Electric steam sterilisers can also be quite bulky, so if you’re pushed for space in your kitchen, this might not be the best option for you.

Microwave steam steriliser  

These also use steam to sterilise your baby’s bottles/your breast pump, yet unlike electric sterilisers, they do not need to be plugged in and work in the microwave. Once you’ve added water, the bottles and the cover, you can simply pop these sterilisers in the microwave.

The pros: These take up a lot less space than electric sterilisers and do not need to be left out all the time. They do the job quickly and are much easier to clean.

The cons: You’ll need to make sure the steriliser will fit in your microwave, as some of them can be quite bulky.

Cold water steriliser

As its name suggests, a cold-water steriliser uses a sterilising tablet or liquid and cold water to sterilise bottles or feeding equipment submerged in it.

The pros: A silent sterilising option if you’re up in the middle of the night, a huge plus of using a cold-water option is that your equipment will stay sterilised as long as they are submerged in water. When using steam sterilisers, once the lid has been opened, the bottles are no longer sterile.

The cons: Unlike steam sterilisers, when using cold water methods, you’ll need to wait up to 15 minutes.

Travel sterilisers

These are usually microwave steam sterilisers, but on a smaller scale which is perfect if you’re on the move. Whether it’s that first family holiday or just a weekend with the grandparents, these usually only fit one or two bottles.

The pros: These can usually be used both in the microwave and with cold water tablets (which is a good backup when staying in hotels).

The cons: You won’t be able to fit too much in, so might find you’re constantly using it depending on how young your baby is.

Self-sterilising bottles

A bottle that cleans itself? It might sound too good to be true, but these work in a similar way to the microwave steam sterilisers. Simply fill the base of the bottle with cool water and pop it in the microwave.

The pros: Super easy to use, this is a great option when you are on the go and means you don’t have to carry any extra equipment with you.

The cons: Obviously you are only sterilising one bottle at a time, so a larger steriliser might be more efficient.

UV bottle sterilisers

Ever heard of a UV steriliser before? Neither had we. These gadgets are new on the market and innovative, in that they don't use water, steam, or chemicals at all to sterilise bottles or dummies. They use special LED lights to emit UV, killing off bacteria safely and quickly. 

The pros: Easy to use, with no mess or water required. 

The cons: The most expensive option of all bottle sterilisers. 

Things to consider before buying a steriliser

Space: How much room do you have for a steriliser? Can you stretch to a larger one that will sterilise several bottles at once? Or do you need a more compact product?

Where: Do you want something you can use while travelling? Or will you be using at home with mains electricity?

When: Do you plan to ditch the steriliser once your baby is 12 months? Or would you like to use it again?

The best sterilisers to buy for your baby

Now keep scrolling to see our choices for each type of bottle steriliser with real tried and tested parent reviews...

The best electric steam sterilisers

Shortlisted for Best Steriliser/ Sterilising Product at the M&B Awards 2021

Without taking up too much room on the kitchen counter, our mums loved how quick and easy this was to use, keeping bottles sterile for up to 24 hours. The sterilising cycle lasts just 6 minutes. After this time, the steriliser automatically shuts off, giving you extra speed and safety. That said, they found using the steriliser for large items such as breast pumps to be a bit of a faff.

Our mum tester Alexandra said: "Its so easy to use and makes bottle feeding a lot easier. Bottles are ready in 6 minutes but stay sterile for 24 hours if you keep the lid closed. This is a lot easier than cold water sterilising so you have your sink free and the dishwasher basket makes it so easy to just put all the little bits in the dishwasher then transfer straight to the steriliser."

Read our full review of the Philips Avent 4-in-1 Electric Steam Steriliser here from real mum testers

Shortlisted for Best Steriliser/ Sterilising Product at the M&B Awards 2021
This clever all in one product really does make life easier – saving space in your kitchen and money in the long run. Quick to assemble with clear instructions, this is perfect for the multi-tasking super mum who could do with a helping hand.

Tested by mum Stacey Donaldson for the M&B Awards 2021: "I would recommend this to a friend/fellow mum because this product allows you to heat up bottles and even defrost baby food and once the bottles are washed I can use the same product to sterlise them. The steriliser is fast easy to use, the beeping when its cooling down is helpful also. The cleaning of it is easy also which makes it easier to maintain."

Read our full review of the MAM Electric Baby Bottle Steriliser here

Shortlisted for Best Steriliser/ Sterilising Product at the M&B Awards 2021
With the option to sterilise and dry up to six bottles in 40 minutes, this Tomme Tippee steriliser is super simple and easy to use. It’s also pretty compact, which is great if you’re pushed for space in the kitchen. The quick and convenient sterilising and drying cycle means you are never without a clean, dry sterilised bottle for your baby.

Our mum tester Rebecca said: "The design of the product is great- it is sleek and stylish and goes well in my kitchen. It is quite tall but needs to be to be able to fit as much as it does within it. The single touch wash and dry button is a really useful function that is different to my other steriliser and I really like this. It is simple and effective at what it does and is a competitive price."

Read our full review of the Tommee Tippee Advanced Steri-Dryer Electric Steriliser and Dryer here

Shortlisted for Best Steriliser/ Sterilising Product at the M&B Awards 2021
Sterilising in just six minutes, this steriliser has a helpful little tray to allow you to sterilise your teats and other accessories at the same time, as well as a built-in timer with a voice reminder to let you know when it’s done. As long as the lid of the steriliser is kept securely on after a sterilisation cycle, the bottles and teats inside will remain sterile for up to three hours.

Mum Ruth Alcorn reviewed this steriliser for the M&B Awards 2021: "I really liked it. It’s so easy to use and clean and I love that it has a timer and makes a noise when it’s finished its cycle. Really liked the quality especially as it’s much cheaper than other steriliser on the market at the moment. It’s quick to use and leaves my bottles and other things clean for three days. I like it."

Read our full review of the Boots Baby Electric Steamer here

The best microwave steam sterilisers

This compact steriliser should fit into most microwaves, and can hold four to six bottles. With a 4 to 8-minute sterilising cycle, this can also be used as a cold water steriliser if you need it to. Lightweight and easy for carrying on the go too, it's compatible with bottles, soothers, teethers and over baby feeding accessories.

Dad Ben on Amazon said: "This steriliser was inexpensive but does the job just nicely and fits in our microwave perfectly. The fit is snug however so I would advise measuring the internal dimensions of your microwave before purchasing to avoid disappointment. The kit is an inexpensive, yet fast and effective way to sterilise up to 6 bottles with teats.

"We have the closer to nature larger tommee tippee bottles and these fit perfectly. A friend of ours uses this with Milton liquid to sterilise bottles rather than the microwave option. This is perfect for travelling."

Holding up to six bottles, this steriliser can be used as both a microwave steam steriliser, or with cold water tablets. The best part? This pack also includes two self-sterilising bottles, a soother and a pair of tongs. Bottles can stay sterile for up to 24 hours if stored in the closed steriliser and are sterilised and good-to-go in just 5 minutes.

One tried and tested reviewer wrote: "Fantastic steriliser, comes with two 5oz MAM bottles and a starter dummy. It does exactly what it's meant to, I've never had any problems and this is my second time purchasing the exact same one because I was finished with my first and didn't need to keep it. But as soon as I knew I was expecting again I bought the exact same one.

"Recommend to buy though when you do use it, it's extremely hot so make sure to use oven gloves or a tea towel when removing it from the microwave."

Compact and easy to use, this Philips AVENT steriliser holds four AVENT bottles and will stay sterile for up to 24 hours if unopened. The clever design allows bottles to be sterilised in two minutes, and the safety clips keep the lid in place, avoiding any nasty accidents.

Reviewer RJ wrote: "Nice, big steriliser which fits in lots of bottles! I used Tommee Tippee bottles as they are cheaper than Avent ones and they fit in fine. It's quite a large steriliser so you will need a big microwave. A quick way for sterilising though and I would recomend it."

This bundle contains a range of soothers, teethers and Dr Brown’s Options bottles, as well as a microwave steriliser. The Dr Brown bottle design is said to eliminate air bubbles in the feed.

Dad Rishi wrote on Amazon: "We were using one of the most popular brand of bottles however my baby got Colic symptoms and previously my baby daughter would get wind in her stomach towards the end of the feed and this only got worse as time progressed. Both my wife and I were stressed what to do due to her constant crying several times during the day. My neighbour said to us that she used Dr Brown's Bottle for both her kids and they were absolutely fine.

"Since we were desperate to try out anything we went for these bottles and since we switched the bottles she has not had Colic attacks. Such a relief! Would recommend it to any parent who is having similar issues."

These bags work like a microwave steam cleaner, for all your feeding accessories. Each bag fits most breastpumps, teats or bottles and cleans and disinfects in around three minutes. The bag can be used up to 20 times, so this is a great idea if you are travelling and don’t want to carry your normal steriliser with you.  

Mr Dawson said: "We were introduced to these in hospital when our baby was in NICU and my partner was pumping in the ward. These are so handy! Easy to use, no fuss and can take on holiday. We don’t stick to the 20 use guide on the bag as we simply change when they get overly worn, and they’ve been great. The items do get very hot straight out of the microwave but so long as you are cautious there’s no need to worry.

"Especially handy for grandparents who look after the baby from time to time and have no need for a more permanent sterilising solution."

The best cold water sterilisers

An Amazon bestseller, this cold-water steriliser kills all harmful bacteria in 15 minutes. With a lockable lid, the contents inside stays sterile for 24 hours.

Dad Eric wrote on Amazon: "If you are not using bottles, and you need dummies, or nipple shields sterilised constantly, it is a bit more practical than steam sterilisers. The bucket is quite big for a few bottles in case you need them in the future. You change the water every 24 hours and you can use half a pill/half a bucket if you have small things. And once in the water, you have the stuff sterile in 15 minutes."

Shortlisted for Best Bottle Feeding Product at the M&B Awards 2014
This Milton steriliser can be used either as a microwave steam steriliser, or as a cold water steriliser holding five bottles. A good one to buy if you want the option to do both, or find yourself on the move a lot. Comes with tongs and Milton Sterilising Tablets.

Our review from the M&B Awards 2014: "The Milton Combi Microwave and Cold Water Steriliser is easy to use and great for travelling. It’s compact and has a strong handle for convenient portability. The product accommodates six bottles at a time along with lids and teats but is not big enough for larger-sized bottles, which are too tall for the steriliser. It takes only two minutes to sterilise in a 1100w microwave, which is great if you need bottles in a hurry!

"The cold water sterilising option is also great; just add a tablet and keep adding and removing bottles as and when you need them over a 24 hour period, which saves electricity and is very economical.  This process does, however, take longer than the microwave option – 15 minutes – and the tablets are an expense over and above the steriliser itself, which is very reasonably priced."

Read our full tried and tested review here

The best travel sterilisers

Shortlisted for Best Travel Product Under £25 at the M&B Awards 2018

With the ability to use as a microwave steam steriliser or with cold water tablets, this little steriliser is a great on-the-move option. Our mums loved the size of the steriliser and the clever design – the steriliser has one flat side to prevent it rolling around in the microwave.

Tested by mum Nicola Widger for the Mother&Baby Awards 2018: "I would recommend this steriliser to other mums because it's quick and easy to use. It is big enough for one bottle, and you can choose to either microwave or cold water sterilise. It even comes with free tablets to use. The instructions are very clear to understand. It is also not big and bulky to carry around! A great product!"

Read our full review of the Milton Solo Travel Steriliser here

A good buy if your little one is constantly dropping their dummy, this watertight sterilising device allows you to clean the dummy in 15 minutes, with the contents staying sterile for 24 hours.

One mum on Amazon said: "Love that it's small enough to fit in my jacket pocket! Can clip it to the buggy or changing bag, easy to use. Nice choice of colours. Tablets can be a pain to get hold of though as you need the small ones! Now I don't have to worry about not being able to clean his dummy when we are out!"

Shortlisted for Best Steriliser/ Sterilising Product at the M&B Awards 2021
Feed. Sterilise. Repeat. These bags are a convenient, easy way to sterilise anytime and anyplace and super handy for packing in your bag. Kill up to 99.9% of common bacteria on bottles, pump parts and accessories in as little as 90 seconds with each bag having up to 30 uses.

Our mum tester Lyndsay Heap says: "The munchkin steriliser bags are great as a travel solution for sterilising, as long as you have access to a microwave then they provide a compact space saving solution to sterilising on the go, rather than taking bulky cold water sterilising equipment. They are particularly useful if you are just going out for a day or two to visit friends or family and want to travel light."

Read our full tried and tester parent review of the Munchkin 6pk Steriliser Bags here

The best self-sterilising bottles

These self-sterilising bottles can be placed in the microwave for three minutes – simply fill the base with water and heat. Great for on-the-go cleaning.

Mum Izzy said: "Yes they are pricey, but to combine a sterilizer with a bottle is just genius. Saves on having a bulky sterilizer hanging around the kitchen. Plus you can take them anywhere without the bulk. They are great for holidays. I tried a few different bottles as I had originally bought Tommee Tipee, but our daughter didn't like the teats on those and the other bottles. She took to these bottles straight away without any issues. She was previously breastfed.

"Slightly fiddly to clean just because of all the components. Also make sure you have the white circular base inserted correctly in bottom of the bottle otherwise you'll get a leak. I wish I'd used these first time round. Expensive initial purchase but very much worth it in the long run."

Not sure what sized bottled to get? This 10-piece start set includes small, medium and large bottles, teats, spouts and a soother, suitable from birth. All of the bottles are part of MAM’s self-sterilising range, which can be sterilised in the microwave in three minutes.

Mum Leanne said: "This is a great little set to buy, has everything you’ll need! All the sterilisers/feeding bits I bought for my baby were Tommee Tippee, and they all came with bottles. Alas, my son did not like the tommee tippee bottles (typical) so my friend kindly gave me one of her mam bottles to try & he took it rather easily so we ordered this set! I breastfeed mostly but this is enough for me to start trying to wean him off the breast & onto formulas for when I go back to work.

"They came in a lovely little box, & you get the handle too to make a sippy cup for when they’re a bit older. There’s also a dummy in there!"

The best UV bottle sterilisers

Bronze winner for Best Steriliser/ Sterilising Product at the M&B Awards 2021

Kills 99.9% of bacteria using only UV light from special LEDs, this clever machine has been proven to destroy bacteria after just 11 minutes without the need for liquids, chemicals, heat, steam or sterilising solution. It can sterilise a number of items including bottles and accessories, teethers and soothers, toys, cosmetic products and even mobile phones!

Tested by mum Lamara for the 2021 M&B Awards: "I would definitely recommend this product to my friends. It is a very useful addition to our household we find it easy to use and prevents us worrying about if the item is sterilised enough for baby. I would also make sure that mentioned the versatile use of this product to my friends or fellow mum."

Read our full review of the Vital Baby Nurture Pro UV Steriliser & Dryer here

Silver winner for Best Steriliser/ Sterilising Product at the M&B Awards 2021

This powerful little steriliser eliminates 99.99% of bacteria, viruses and germs in just 59 seconds (to be precise!) It's easy to throw into or attach to a purse or nappy bag, so when you need it, it's right at hand. Perfect for use in the home, but extra handy for public spaces such as daycare, playgrounds, doctor's offices, airports, and more.

Mum Michaela Symes said: "With my first baby I used nipple shields throughout my breast feeding journey and I really wish I had this product. This time round I have bottle fed but I use the mini stereliser for my little girls dummies. It's been brilliant to know that if the dummy is dropped on the floor I don't need to have a few spares I can just use this machine and they are clean!"

Read our full tried and tester parent review here

Shortlisted for Innovation of the Year at the M&B Awards 2021

This clever UV Steriliser uses ultraviolet light to sterilise your bottles and other items in 3 minutes with no water, microwave, chemicals, cooling time or drying! So simple to use - pop two bottles into the compact unit, zip it up, press the button on the front to start the cycle and you're good to go! Compact, lightweight & made from an easy-clean, stylish fabric.

Mum Emma tried and tested this product: "I loved the fact the concept was completely new to me and I love the idea of cleaning with something the earth can provide us naturally even though it is man-made I still found the idea and concept brilliant since COVID I have wanted to stay away from more and more chemicals and this was really what I have been searching for."

Read our full tried and tested review of the Nuby UK UV Steriliser by real parents here

Don't forget...

  • To clean bottles, teats and other feeding equipment in hot, soapy water as soon as possible after feeds.
  • Use a clean bottle brush to clean bottles (only use this brush for cleaning bottles), and a small teat brush to clean the inside of teats. You can also turn teats inside out then wash them in hot soapy water. Don't use salt to clean teats, as this can be dangerous for your baby.
  • Your baby's feeding equipment can be put through the dishwasher to clean but be aware that the dishwasher will clean it but does not sterilise it. Ensure bottles, lids and teats are facing downwards.
  • Rinse all your equipment in clean, cold running water before sterilising.

Popular articles read next

 
  • Author: Sophie Knight Sophie Knight
  • Job Title: Contributing Editor

Sophie is a journalist and mum of one, and previously edited motherandbaby.co.uk before moving on to write about family cars for Parkers.co.uk - now Sophie is Commercial Content Editor for M&B, Closer, Heat, Empire, Yours, Garden News, and WhatsTheBest.co.uk 

She is passionate about raising awareness around postnatal depression and is a Mental Health First Aider.

Sophie studied History at the University of Sheffield and has been in journalism for 16 years. 

Other contributors

Emily Thorpe - Digital Writer

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