7 Helpful Tips If Your Baby’s Bottles Smell Bad

Have you ever reached for a baby bottle or sippy cup from your cabinet and thought to yourself, “my baby bottles smell”? You are certain you washed them well, and your other dishes that were in the dishwasher along with the bottles are clean, so what gives? Why are these bottles stinky, and what can you do to get rid of the odor?

Why Do My Baby Bottles Stink?

Baby bottles can be retaining a smell for a variety of reasons. It is important to consider all of these reasons so that you know how to clean them appropriately and remove the smell.

  • Are you handwashing or using a dishwasher?
  • Have you switched detergent brands lately?
  • Are you leaving dirty bottles in the sink or on the counter for an extended period?
  • Do you put juice in the baby bottles?
  • Do you sanitize them regularly?
  • When was the last time you replaced your bottle brush?
  • Would you consider switching from plastic to glass bottles?

1. Are you handwashing or using a dishwasher to clean your bottles?

It does not matter if you are handwashing your baby bottles or using a dishwasher. Either method is appropriate for effectively cleaning the bottles. In some cases, each method can have setbacks that may cause the plastic to smell funky. If you are handwashing your baby bottles, you need to make sure you are not washing other dishes with the bottles. The residue from the other bottles can leach onto the plastic bottles. This is especially true if you have put something greasy or tomato-based in the soapy water along with the bottles.

When using a dishwasher, the same thing can happen, and a filmy residue can be left behind on and in the bottles to create a smell. If the dishwasher has not been cleaned lately, it could have a mold collection near the drain trap, and this could also make the water smell musty and transfer the odor to the plastic baby bottles.

2. Have you switched detergent brands lately?

Not all detergents are created equal, and some new dishwasher pods or liquid soaps for handwashing may leave a smell behind. If you typically use unscented and all-natural soap, you may notice an odor clinging to the plastic baby bottles. If you live in a region that has well water or hard water, the water can react differently with certain soaps and also create a funky smell.

3. Are you leaving dirty bottles in the sink or on the countertop for an extended period of time?

Bacteria can begin to form in room temperature milk. If you place your used and dirty baby bottles on the counter or in the sink and wait a few hours to wash them, this could cause them to smell. Even a minor coating of milk left in a bottle can begin to leach into the plastic. Baking soda is a natural neutralizer for odors. If this has become a habit of yours, then you can easily remove the smell from the plastic bottles. Put one teaspoon of baking soda in each cleaned bottle. Top off the bottle with warm water and then shake vigorously for one to two minutes. Rinse the bottle and then thoroughly clean one more time. This should remove any smells from milk bacteria.

4. Do you put juice in the baby bottles?

There is nothing wrong with putting juice in a plastic baby bottle or sippy cup. Some juices can leave behind a tint or a smell, though. Grape juice can sometimes tint a bottle if it is not washed promptly after use. Apple juice can leave behind a sour smell. To avoid this from happening, just wash the bottles once the baby is done drinking.

5. Do you sanitize the bottles regularly?

Proper sanitization will cut back on odors. Plastic is known for absorbing odors. You may notice this in any of your plastic travel coffee cups or your favorite Tupperware bowls. So this tip will help you with all of your plastic that is absorbing scents. Sanitize your plastic baby bottles. There are a few methods for this. You can purchase bottle sanitizing bags that go in the microwave and follow the instruction on the packaging, or you can boil the plastic.

To boil the baby bottles (or other plastic that may have absorbed an odor), you should get a large stockpot out and fill it part of the way with water. Bring the water to a rolling boil. With tongs, place each piece of the bottle into the water one by one. Take caution and avoid splatter. Set a timer and allow all pieces to boil for 5 minutes. Use the tongs to remove each piece from the boiling water and place sanitized pieces on a drying rack to dry properly. This method will remove any odors and bacteria. You should sanitize bottles every few weeks.

6. When was the last time you replaced your bottle brush?

The problem with odor may not be from the baby bottles. If you are using a sponge-tipped cleaning brush, the sponge may be bad. You should run your bottle brush through the dishwasher every other day or microwave sanitize to prevent bacteria from growing on the brush. If at all possible, replace the bottle cleaning brush weekly but replace it monthly.

7. Would you consider switching from plastic bottles to glass bottles?

There is nothing wrong with using plastic baby bottles or plastic products of any type. It is always best to utilize BPA free for safety reasons. Still, if at all possible, you should consider switching to glass. Glass does not hold odors the way that plastic does, and it is a more eco-friendly option. Glass bottles still require sanitization. All of the previously mentioned techniques should be utilized, but you will not notice odors as strongly on the glass.

It is important to pay attention to the baby bottles and if they begin to develop an odor. In some cases, the odor can become quite pungent and impact the flavor of the milk, juice, or water that is inside the bottle. By properly cleaning the baby bottles and using baking soda between intermittent sterilization, you will be able to remove or even prevent stubborn odors effectively.