Sterilisers - what types are there?

Steam, cold water, microwave or electric? We explain the main types of sterilisers you’ll come across when you need to clean your baby’s bottles or breast pump

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  • Electric steam steriliser

    An electric steam steriliser uses steam to kill any germs. The steriliser unit sits on your bench top and is plugged into the power socket like a toaster or electric kettle.  You pour a small amount of water into the unit, put the cover on and the metal element at the bottom heats up, turning the water to steam. 

    Many electric steam sterilisers now offer fast sterilisation cycles, and while some are bulky and take up a fair bit of work space, the designs are getting more space-efficient. You will need to clean/de-scale the metal element every few weeks or so, or else its performance can be affected.

    Great for those without microwaves, or who want a independent unit that frees up the microwave.

  • Microwave steam steriliser

    Just like an electric steam steriliser, a microwave steam steriliser uses steam to kill germs. The steriliser is made of plastic, and is usually a more compact size than an electric model because it has to fit inside your microwave.

    Water is added to the steriliser, the cover popped on and the whole thing is microwaved, so the water heats up and turns to steam. 

    Microwave sterilisers are known for offering a really fast sterilisation cycle, though this depends on the power of your microwave and brand of steriliser. They are also easy to clean, as there’s no metal element to de-scale.

  • Cold water steriliser

    Cold water sterilisation sees a sterilising fluid or tablet added to water, and the feeding kit completely submerged in the water.  The time taken to sterilise is longer than with electric or microwave steam options (about 15 minutes). However, you can just take items out of the water as and when you need them, whereas with a steam steriliser unit, the contents only remain sterile if the lid stays unopened.

    While it is convenient to have the solution sitting ready for bottle to be dropped in or taken out, some parents find they have an issue of the chlorine-like smell.

  • Travel steriliser

    A travel steriliser is usually a microwave steam option, cold water steriliser or both. It is much smaller than one you’d use everyday, fitting just one or two bottles.  It’s compact and can look a bit like a plastic lunchbox. You either add water and pop in the microwave to steam sterilise, or add water and a sterilising tablet or fluid to use as a cold water option. Cold water sterilisation may not be a method you choose to use everyday, but is a very handy back up when travelling to places that may not have a microwave.

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  • Microwave steriliser bags

    Microwave steriliser bags use steam to kill germs. The bags are made of plastic and can fit about two bottles. You put your feeding kit and some water in, seal, and microwave so the water turns to steam. The sterilsation cycle is very fast.

    Bags are handy for travel because they're so small to pack and can be thrown away after up to 20 uses.


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