How to Sterilize Plastic Bottles

Plastic bottles harbour bacteria and germs. The more you use the bottle, the more you have to worry about what might be getting inside, especially if you aren’t cleaning the bottles properly. Simply cleaning out the bottles with warm water and soap, even antibacterial soap, isn’t enough. Using high heat is the best way to sterilise plastic bottles, whether they are baby bottles or water bottles.

Fill a large pot with water and set it on the stove. Turn the stove to high heat and wait for it to start boiling. You should notice a few air bubbles rising to the surface of the water, just before it breaks out into a boil.

Check each bottle carefully, looking for any cracks or signs of damage. If using baby bottles, check the nipples for damage as well. Throw away any damaged bottles.

Slide the plastic bottles into the pot, making sure not to splash. Use the tongs to reduce the chances of burning yourself with the boiling water. Leave the bottles inside for 10 minutes.

Pull the plastic bottles from the water using the tongs. Lay a towel on the counter and place the bottles on top of the towel. Turn the bottles upside down to dry.

Place a steam basket inside your pot, keeping the basket above the water, as an alternative method. When the water reaches a boil, place the bottles inside the steam basket and put a lid on the pot. Let the bottles steam inside the pot for 10 minutes and then remove from the heat. Dry the bottles on a towel.


Sterilise plastic bottles in the microwave by removing the lid from each bottle. Set the bottles and the lids inside the microwave and set it to high heat. Heat the bottles for at least five minutes. A sterilizer is a better option for baby bottles because it doesn’t break down the plastics in the same way that other methods do. Sterilise bottles by placing the bottles upside down in a dishwasher. The high heat of the water inside the dishwasher quickly sterilises the bottles.

Things You'll Need

  • Cooking pot
  • Water
  • Plastic bottles
  • Tongs
  • Towel
  • Steam basket
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About the Author

Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.