Sterilisation and storage

During their first year of life infants are most vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. Therefore, keeping your infant’s feeding equipment sterile is essential to help prevent infection. The following steps should be followed by parents, and all healthcare professionals to ensure all feeds are handled correctly.

1. Wash hands thoroughly and clean all surfaces that will be used.
2. Use bottle and teat brushes to carefully cleanse bottles and teats with hot soapy water, removing all traces of milk, and rinse thoroughly under a running tap. Dishwashers can be used to clean feeding and preparation equipment provided equipment is dishwasher proof. Dishwashers will not sterilise equipment.
3. Sterilise the clean feeding equipment before it is used. One of these three methods should be used:

  • Steaming: Steaming is the best way to sterilise feeding equipment. Plug-in sterilisers or microwave sterilisers can be bought. Always follow the instructions.
  • Boiling: Fill a large saucepans with tap water and completely submerge all equipment in it . Make sure there are no trapped bubbles. Cover the saucepan, bring to the boil for at least three minutes. Make sure the feeding equipment is fully covered with boiling water at all times. Cover the saucepan until the equipment is needed.
  • Cold water, using sterilising liquid: Make up a bath of sterilising liquid (such as Milton) following the instructions on pack. Make sure all equipment is completely covered by the liquid and that there are no trapped air bubbles.

4. Wash hands and surfaces before handling and assembling sterilised feeding equipment.
5. Bottles or other feeding equipment should be assembled immediately after sterilisation. Take care to avoid touching the teats and the insides of bottles, sealing discs, bottle caps and collars. Sterilise tongs may be used to fix teats into collars.
6. Once assembled correctly, bottles will remain sterile for 24 hours providing that they remain unopened. It is recommended that bottles and teats are sterilised until an infant is 12 months old.

1. Food Safety Authority of Ireland (2012). Guidance note 22: Information relevant to the development of guidance material for the safe feeding of reconstituted powdered infant formula (Revision 2). (

2. Health Services Executive and Safefood (2018). How to prepare your baby’s bottle. Available at:


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