Before I had a baby, I used to be a clean freak. I’m still one now, only it takes a lot more effort to keep up with my kid’s full-time efforts of getting mess everywhere. One thing that bugged me early on was finding a way to clean all those nooks and crannies in my baby’s bottle.
Brand new nipples don’t stay that way for long, and bottles can get a little dingy even at the best of times. While I’m less uptight these days about drool and boogers, I draw the line at wanting my baby to have a clean, hygienic bottle at all times.
If you’re like me and take bottle cleaning seriously, know that a solution is only one good brush away. The right bottle brush can scrub any bottle back into shape and is a true asset for keeping bacteria at bay. Check out our reviews below and those bottles will be sparkling in no time.
- Helps nipple cleaner dry fast
- Has its own stand
- Dishwasher safe
- Comes with a nipple brush
- Non-slip grip & ergonomic design
- Fits narrow bottles
- Holds up well with repeated uses
- Works well for washing dishes
- Easy to access nipple brush
- Used on all sizes and brands
- Little risk of damage to nipples
- Sponge dries quickly
- Fit in very narrow bottles
- Evenly and quickly cleans bottles bottoms
- Soft and scratch-free nylon bristles
- Bristles are angled
- Effectively removes dried milk
- Cleans with gentle twisting action
How Hard Can it Be?
When I was a new parent, I didn’t own any bottle brushes. I had bought the standard-sized bottles, never dreaming how gunky they could become in just a couple of weeks. When I started seeing a slimy build-up in the hard-to-reach places, I realized that just swishing hot, soapy water around in each bottle wasn’t going to be enough to give it the deep clean it needed.
So I ran to the store and bought two bottle brushes – one for the nipples and one for the bottles. That was a total waste of money. The nipple brush tore up the nipple, and I had to throw it away. The bottle brush couldn’t reach the really gunky areas, and the bottle never got perfectly clean.
I left it soaking for a day and then tried to use the spray nozzle from my kitchen sink to remove the gunk. That helped, but it didn’t fully work. I ended up throwing that bottle away and looking for one without so many hard to reach spots, hoping it would be easier to clean.
I now know that thoroughly cleaning a bottle is one of the greatest aggravations new parents will face. Don’t assume bottles can be cleaned just like ordinary dishes! Instead, you’ll need the right tools to help you get the job done with minimal stress.
How Do I Clean My Baby’s Bottle?
The most important rule of bottle cleaning is to do it as soon as possible after feeding (1). If you toss the empty bottle in a diaper bag, forget about it and then find it a couple of days later, you’re going to have a nasty surprise on your hands. The milk will have caked on, creating a crusty layer that’s hard to remove because your hand can’t fit all the way inside.
You need a brush that can go where your hand can’t, and you need it to be stiff and flexible enough to do the job.
- Rinse bottles as soon as you’re done with them and when you’re ready, gather them all together and wash in a plastic bowl in your sink. If you like, thoroughly wash the sink first and clean the bottles in there directly.
- Use very hot water and ordinary dish soap to start cleaning.
- Use a series of brushes to scrub the screw tops, the nipples, and all the way into the bottle itself. Take your time to get into any little spaces that bacteria might like to hang out.
- Rinse well in clean water and then set out to air dry on a rack or paper towel.
- Alternatively, throw everything into the dishwasher (top rack) for a deep clean.
What Should I Look For?
The next time I buy bottle brushes, I have a checklist I’ll be consulting to make sure it meets all my criteria.
The brush should be long enough to reach the bottom of the bottle and still give you enough handle space to move it around.
Two types of bristles
The best brushes have a mix of bristles – some soft for gentle cleaning and some hard to scrape off more serious gunk.
Trying to scrub a bottle when your soapy hand keeps slipping off the brush isn’t great.
Some brushes have an added feature, a sponge tip that makes it easy to scrub off build-up with a simple twist of the brush. But, if you do go for a product with a sponge tip, make sure you wash it thoroughly when you are done cleaning because sponges can get filthy quickly. Also, keep in mind the sponge part won’t last as long as the rest of the brush because it typically tends to tear off in chunks with repeated use.
Having a flexible neck on the brush makes it easier to manipulate, which is important when you’re trying to reach the spots that a regular brush can’t reach.
Best Baby Bottle Brushes of 2020
There’s something so satisfying about a rack of freshly washed bottles on a drying rack, glinting in the sunshine. Here are the products we think will help you get that sweet, sweet feeling every time.
1. OXO Tot Bottle Brush with Nipple Cleaner and Stand
Getting the bottle brush itself dirty kind of defeats the purpose – and they will get scummy if you just leave them lying around on the counter. The best way to keep your brush from getting contaminated is by getting a stand with it. It’ll save space and give you that extra peace of mind.
This brush has every feature that’s important in a bottle brush. The brush head has two different kinds of bristles to cover you whether you need gentle cleaning or something that will scrub away layers of film.
It also has a flexible neck all good bottle brushes should have. It has a rubberized grip on the end of the brush, which means it won’t be slipping out of your hands while you are furiously scrubbing away. Moms may like that it comes with a silicone nipple cleaner, which will help keep nipples and breast pump parts gunk free.
- There are ventilation holes to help the nipple cleaner dry fast.
- This brush has its own stand, which will help it stay fresh.
- Dishwasher safe.
- This brush is large and won’t fit well into smaller bottles.
- The bristles tend to get flattened fairly quickly with repeated use.
2. Playtex SmartSpace Baby Bottle Brush
A single brush won’t fully clean your baby’s bottle. Until you’ve been a mom, you don’t understand how gross and slimy a bottle nipple can get. Those bad boys are impossible to fully clean unless you have a dedicated nipple brush. That’s why a combo set that contains both a bottle and nipple brush is your best bet.
This brush is softer, but will still scrub away filth while not scratching your bottles. It has a non-slip grip and an ergonomic design that makes it comfortable to hold during lengthy washing sessions. The brush’s wide bristles can get to the inner ridges of bottles, which can be hard to reach, giving you a more thoroughly cleaned bottle.
It comes with a nipple brush that fits in the handle for easier storage. You might like that the soft nipple brush won’t shred nipples as some brushes do.
- The nipple brush has bristles on every side for fast, effective cleaning.
- Fits narrow bottles.
- You have to keep the attachment part inside the brush, or it won’t be long enough to reach the bottom of the bottle.
- The handle sometimes comes loose when you’re cleaning.
3. Dr. Brown’s Bottle Brush
If you’ve been watching your bank account dwindle at an alarming rate, you can breathe a little easier when picking out your bottle brush. There are a lot of great, inexpensive brushes out there. You won’t have to worry about taking out a part-time job to help you purchase this baby gear.
This is a nifty brush that fits both standard and wide-neck bottles. It has both a sponge and bristles which helps the brush get in all the crevices that can be hard to reach with a traditional brush. Because the sponge isn’t designed for long-term use, though, you may want to replace it every month or two.
Although this brush stands up on its own, it also comes with a neat little storage clip. At the base of the unit, there are fixed chevron channels for nipple cleaning. It also has a no-slip handle, which makes it easier to use in soapy water.
- This brush comes with a suction cup stand.
- Cheaper than many of the other brushes available.
- This brush splatters a lot of water when you remove it from narrow bottles.
- The sponge sometimes falls off the brush.
4. Philips AVENT Bottle and Nipple Brush
Sometimes it can feel like your kitchen sink cabinet is being overrun by brushes and bottle accessories. It's like you need a brush for everything. A combo set of a bottle and dish brush can save you time, space and money.
This brush comes with a curved brush head, which is ideal for cleaning the curved sections of baby bottles. The handle part of the brush has an attached, molded tip for cleaning nipples.
The brushes are durable enough to withstand repeated cleanings but soft enough that they won’t scratch bottles, nipples or other feeding equipment.
This brush is BPA and dishwasher safe. It can also be hung up in the cabinet underneath your kitchen sink so that it can dry quickly without taking up too much space.
- This brush holds up well with repeated uses.
- Works well for washing dishes too.
- The nipple brush is easy to access – there’s no cover over it.
- The brush won’t fit in the smallest of bottles.
- The bristles are only on one side of the brush, not all around it.
5. Moomoo Baby Triple Brush Set
While brushes are great, some women prefer the greater surface area of a sponge to clean bottles. Breastmilk can sometimes leave a greasy residue on bottles, and the bristles on a brush might not be enough to wipe it away clean cleanly. Foam sponge brushes, on the other hand, can ensure a nice smooth clean
This set of three sponge brushes from Moomoo Baby is made of soft, firm foam that cleans the entire bottle surface without scratching it. Moms who are sick of getting sprayed in the face with suds when they pull a traditional brush out of a bottle might like these.
Included are a smaller nipple brush and tiny “straw cleaner” for small holes or straws. When the foam starts to wear away, detach it and put on a fresh one.
- Can be used on all sizes and brands of bottle.
- Little risk of damage to nipples while cleaning.
- Sponge dries quickly.
- Quite tricky to replace old sponges.
- Some parents have found the handle is not very durable and breaks.
6. Munchkin Sponge Bottle Brush
Narrow bottles may look cute, but when you’re cleaning them, you’ll find yourself wishing you were Elasto Man so you could fit your hand inside them to get all that gunk out. While superhuman abilities may be out of your reach, you can find a thin brush to help keep those skinny bottles squeaky clean.
This brush can stand upright, keeping it free from germs, and it can be cleaned in the top rack of your dishwasher. According to the manufacturer, the brush should be replaced every month or month and a half. It has a helpful sponge at the tip of the brush.
The nylon bristles are soft and scratch-free and work on both plastic and glass baby bottles. Like many other brush models, it comes with a smaller nipple brush that is stored inside the handle end of the bigger brush. The non-stick handle is also a nice touch.
- Thin stem fits in very narrow bottles.
- Sponge tip evenly and quickly cleans bottoms of bottles.
- No suction cup on the stand, which makes it easy to knock over when standing upright.
- The metal end of the brush isn’t covered by the sponge, which means it can scrape whatever you’re cleaning.
7. Nuk Triple Action Bottle and Nipple Brush
If you can't decide on bristles or sponge, then why not get something with both? Some models of bottle brush are clever brush-sponge combos, to give you the best of both worlds. Multipurpose sponges like these can also be repurposed for normal washing up once your little one is done with bottles
You can tell a lot of effort has gone into the design of this bottle brush from Nuk. Featuring both bristles and sponge sections, it will get rid of really crusty bits while also wiping away filmy residues without scratching.
The sponge portion is antimicrobial, so you know you won’t be cleaning bottle bacteria away with more bacteria. Included in the handle of the brush is a smaller brush for cleaning nipples.
- The bristles are angled so they really hit every corner of the bottle.
- The hard scrubber on the end can effectively remove dried milk.
- Cleans with just a gentle twisting action.
- Too big for small or narrow bottles.
- Many have found the overall quality lacking.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Sterilize a Bottle Brush?
It isn’t necessary to routinely sterilize a bottle brush, unless your little one has recently been ill. Cleaning a brush thoroughly along with the rest of the washing up will be enough, but if you’re worried, you can pop the brush into your bottle sterilizer the next time you use it. If your brush is dishwasher safe, a hot cycle once in a while will keep the bristles good as new.
Can You Put a Bottle Brush in the Dishwasher?
Most brushes can be put in the dishwasher. If in doubt, double-check before you buy or use a shorter cycle if you’re not sure. Many bottles can be put in the dishwasher, too, but you might want to hand wash them if they’re particularly gunky.
What Dish Soap is Best for Baby Bottles?
Your everyday dish soap will be perfectly fine to use on bottles, so long as you rinse off any suds carefully. Some moms like antibacterial dish soap and others invest in specially designed bottle soaps, particularly if they’re washing a lot of bottles.
Look for something natural and free of nasty chemicals; though soaps like these can be more expensive than ordinary dish soap, you’ll be using a lot less of it.
The Bottom Line
The OXO Tot bottle brush is the hands-down winner. The two different kinds of bristles on the brush head offer a good mix. It can handle the bottles that your baby just finished drinking from or the ones you left sitting on the counter for a couple of days because you were too busy to wash the dishes.
The flexible neck on the brush will help you reach all the crevices you need to, and the silicone nipple cleaner is gentle on nipples, unlike nipple cleaners that have brushes, which can sometimes cause scratches or tears. Because this brush can stand up on its own, you’ll feel confident that it isn’t picking up any unwanted germs from your kitchen counters.
Moms out there, what does your bottle washing station look like? Can you share any tips or recommendations when it comes to those little tools that can make a big difference? We’d love to hear about it below.