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Best steriliser: Protect your little ones from germs with the best steam, electric and UV sterilisers

Victoria Woollaston
25 Aug 2021
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Keep germs at bay on baby bottles, dummies or just about anything with our pick of the best sterilisers

For the first year of a baby’s life, their digestive systems are developing at a rapid rate and this makes them incredibly sensitive to germs and bacteria, many of which their bodies aren’t yet equipped to deal with.

The best sterilisers help to remove these potentially harmful substances and reduce the chances of your baby getting sick or having diarrhoea. It may seem overwhelming and even a little scary when deciding how to sterilise, but there are various options for you to choose from to suit your lifestyle and budget.

Below, we cover some important things to consider when choosing a steriliser for you and your baby’s needs, followed by our pick of the best currently on the market.

READ NEXT: The best baby bottles to buy


The best sterilisers: At a glance

  • Best all-rounder: MAM Electric | Buy now
  • Best microwavable steam steriliser: Dr Brown’s Options+ | Buy now
  • Best for a range of bottle brands: Tommee Tippee Super-Steam | Buy now
  • Best cold water steriliser: Milton Cold Water Steriliser | Buy now
  • Best portable steriliser: Milton Solo Travel Steriliser | Buy now

How to choose the best steriliser for you

What type of steriliser do I need?

The first, and probably most common type of steriliser is the steam steriliser. Bacteria thrive at 37°C and steam sterilisers kill this bacteria by blasting them with 100°C water vapour. To heat the water to the point where it becomes steam, you can either buy an electric steam steriliser or a microwave one. These effectively clean themselves each time they’re used, but it’s still best to wash them every few days.

Second, there’s cold water sterilisation, which takes advantage of a purified chemical called sodium chlorate. This form of sterilisation involves putting either tablets or liquid into cold water and soaking the bottles, dummies or anything else you want to sterilise in this solution for a few hours. The chemical is highly diluted so doesn’t pose a threat to your little one, but it does effectively kill the bacteria. This solution needs to be changed at least every 24 hours.

And then there’s UV sterilisation. These sterilisers use UVC rays, as opposed to the UVA and UVB you’re likely familiar with. These rays are particularly good at destroying genetic material such as micro-organisms and viral particles, and they can kill germs and bacteria on the surface of bottles and dummies (and anything it comes into contact with). It’s a popular form of sterilisation in hospitals, on planes and in more industrial settings.

How much do I need to spend?

If you’re breastfeeding or combi-feeding and will only be using a bottle occasionally, it’s unlikely you’ll need to spend a fortune on large, bulky, all-singing, all-dancing electric sterilisers. That said, the most you’ll pay for a decent steriliser of any type is £90 so, if you can afford it, it can’t do any harm. Your feeding plans may end up changing for a variety of reasons and at least this will be one less thing to worry about down the line.

If you’re planning to not use bottles at all and only want a steriliser for dummies, these are much cheaper. They’re usually portable too.

How to handle sterilised bottles

Although sterilisers kill the bacteria, they shouldn’t be a substitute for washing your bottles. All bottles need to be cleaned in soapy water and rinsed before being put in the steriliser to make sure milk residue doesn’t remain in the teat or under the rims of the lid.

With all three types of sterilisers, if the bottles remain in the sealed compartment or inside the cold water solution, they remain sterile for 24 hours. However, as soon as any of the bottles touch the air, bacteria can start forming.

One option is to sterilise six bottles at a time and then make them up by putting the teat and lid on to create a seal. This means they can keep sterile for 24 hours and can be put in a changing bag when out of the house or going on a trip.

Alternatively, you can sterilise bottles as you need them.

Once the bottles are sterilised, make sure you use sterilised tongs – many sterilisers come with these as standard – to make the bottles up so you don’t get any germs on the teats.

READ NEXT: The best baby formula to buy


The best sterilisers to buy

1. MAM Electric Baby Bottle Steriliser and Express Bottle Warmer: The best all-rounder

Price: £72 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re not sure which type of steriliser you’ll need, the MAM Electric Baby Bottle Steriliser and Express Bottle Warmer ticks every box – plus more – for a good price. As you can probably guess from its long name, the MAM steriliser is a 6-in-1 wonder machine. It can be used as an electric steriliser, microwave steriliser and cold water steriliser for up to six 130ml bottles, plus it has a food and bottle warmer, as well as a breast milk defroster attachment.

As an electric steriliser, bottles are ready in seven minutes (including cooldown time). As a microwave steriliser, thanks to the detachable rack, this drops to five minutes. This detached rack can also be used with cold sterilisation tablets or liquids.

In addition, this steriliser and warmer heats bottles to a safe temperature in two-and-a-half minutes, and defrosts food and breast milk in ten. The Keep Warm function will then keep these bottles at the ideal temperature for up to 45 minutes before it automatically shuts down.

This steriliser and warmer come with one of MAM’s Easy Start Anti-Colic Baby Bottles and a zero-to-two-months dummy. MAM has managed to cram a lot of tech into a relatively small space, so not all baby bottles will fit in this. It’s also worth checking to make sure your microwave is large enough – it needs to be 23l and up.

Key specs – Steriliser type: Electric/microwave/cold; Capacity: 6 bottles; Accessories: Tongs and a dishwasher basket; Sterilising time: Up to 6 minutes; Dimensions: 29 x 15 x 16cm (HWD)

2. Dr Brown’s Options+ Microwave Steriliser Set: The best microwavable steam steriliser

Price: £32 | Buy now from Amazon

From its ease of use to its value for money, Dr Brown’s Options and Microwave Steriliser Set is a great all-rounder. It can fit up to four Dr Brown’s bottles in each time, plus the tongs, and the full sterilisation process takes eight minutes. You simply put the bottles in upside down, place a small amount of water in the bottom, pop on the lid and put it in the microwave.

You’re not limited to using just Dr Brown’s bottles with this set. This was our go-to steriliser when our youngest was a newborn and – while he didn’t get on all that well with Dr Brown’s bottles – we continued to use this set with the NUK bottles we ended up using without any problems at all. It travels reasonably well, given its flat shape, but it is quite wide so make sure it fits in your microwave before buying!

Key specs – Steriliser type: Microwave; Capacity: 4 bottles; Accessories: Two cleaning brushes and tongs; Sterilising time: Up to 8 minutes; Dimensions: 27 x 12 x 27cm (HWD)

3. Tommee Tippee Super Steam Advanced Electric Steriliser: The best steriliser for a range of bottle brands

Price: £48| Buy now from Amazon

On the more bulky side, the Tommee Tippee Super Steam Advanced Electric Steriliser will take up extra space in your kitchen but it provides more versatility as a result. It has enough space to fit a range of baby bottles (up to a maximum of six), soothers, breast pumps, teethers and other accessories, and gets them clean in just five minutes. It’s available in black and white to suit a range of kitchen aesthetics, and comes with tongs and a dummy.

There is a more expensive version of this steriliser – called the Tommee Tippee Advanced Steri-Dryer Electric Steriliser and Dryer – that also dries the bottles after sterilising. This adds a minute to the cycle and, in our opinion, isn’t necessary. The bottles never come out soaking wet from the cheaper model, and they’re good to use straight away regardless. This is why we chose the cheaper of the two models to profile but wanted to highlight this alternative if a more compact shape and drying mode better suits what you need.

Key specs – Steriliser type: Electric steam; Capacity: 6 bottles; Accessories: Tongs and a dummy; Sterilising time: Up to 5 minutes; Dimensions: 36.2 x 47.4 x 28.6cm (HWD)

4. Milton Cold Water Steriliser: The best cold water steriliser

Price: £15 | Buy now from Amazon

Technically, this steriliser is just a fancy container for your bottles. It's basically a bucket with a lid. You don’t need such a separate container to sterilise bottles and dummies using cold water sterilisation. Any tub or even your sink can be used with the tablets and liquid. That said, it’s handy to have somewhere to put your bottles and solution that doesn’t impact on other kitchen tasks. Especially given that a solution will last 24 hours. And this container has a lockable lid, which your sink or bucket possibly may not. 

Once submerged, bottles are sterile in just 15 minutes and can remain in the solution until they’re needed. What’s more, you don’t need to rinse or wash them properly beforehand – although we still recommend you do. It doesn’t look the part but it’s functional and does what you need it to do. Its 5l capacity is enough room for six bottles, as well as weaning bowls, dummies and other baby accessories. We still sterilise some of our son’s plastic toys in this way and he’s now two.

Milton tablets and liquid are sold in most supermarkets and available online from as little as £3. You also aren’t limited to just using Milton tablets – any sterilising tablets are compatible. This container doesn’t come with tongs, though, so you’ll need to buy them separately.

Key specs – Steriliser type: Cold water; Capacity: 6 bottles; Accessories: None; Sterilising time: Up to 15 minutes; Dimensions: 25 x 16.5 x 24.5cm (HWD)

5. Milton Solo Travel Steriliser: The best portable steriliser

Price: £9 | Buy now from Amazon

Speaking of Milton, this travel steriliser from the iconic brand can be used to sterilise a single bottle – from any brand – and doubles up as both a cold-water steriliser and microwave steam steriliser. It's perfect for emergencies or on days out.

It resembles a large water bottle so should easily fit in most changing bags, and when used as a microwave steam steriliser is ready in just two minutes. The cold-water sterilisation still takes 15 minutes, like with the larger model, but you could in theory put a bottle in the solution and leave it in there for 24 hours until you need to use it.

Depending on the size of bottle you’re using, you may also be able to squeeze in a dummy in the pot to kill two birds with one stone.

Key specs – Steriliser type: Cold water/microwave steam; Capacity: 1 bottle; Accessories: None; Sterilising time: Up to 15 minutes; Dimensions: 12.5 x 12.5 x 18cm (HWD)

6. Munchkin Mini UV Portable Steriliser: The best on-the-go UV steriliser

Price: £20 | Buy from Amazon

The smallest, most portable steriliser in this list is also the first UV steriliser to make the cut. It’s been designed to kill bacteria and viruses in just 59 seconds and is perfect for disinfecting small, everyday items such as dummies and bottle teats at home or on the go.

Of course, you’ll still need to sterilise the bottles separately, but this steriliser is ideal if you’ve spent time sterilising bottles and teats only for an older sibling to grab the teat, or for it to land on the floor. This machine means you can quickly sterilise it without having to throw away the rest of the prepared bottle.

Its compact shape is also great for strapping onto bags and buggies, so it’s always to hand should your little one’s dummy end up on the floor.

The Mini Steriliser has a built-in rechargeable battery that can be charged by a standard USB cable, but it also takes AA batteries to make sure you’re never caught out.

Key specs – Steriliser type: UV light; Capacity: 1 dummy; Accessories: None; Sterilising time: 59 seconds; Dimensions: 12.5 x 12.5 x 18cm (HWD)

7. Vital Baby Nurture Pro UV Steriliser and Dryer: The best UV steriliser and dryer

Price: £75 | Buy now from Amazon

It may look a little like a compost bin, so may not become a statement accessory in your home, but this machine is a fantastic UV light steriliser. It comfortably fits four bottles, but can also accommodate dummies and other accessories depending on the size of bottle being used, and these bottles will remain sterile for up to 72 hours as long as the lid isn’t opened.

As it uses UV light, you don’t need to factor in any cooling time – every second counts when your baby is screaming for milk – and it also comes with a separate drying mode.

This is the most expensive machine on this list, and one of the slowest at 11 minutes, but it comes with a host of smart technology and modes to make it worth the investment.

Key specs – Steriliser type: UV light; Capacity: 4 bottles; Accessories: None; Sterilising time: Up to 11 minutes; Dimensions: 28 x 28 x 23.5cm (HWD)

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