How to Sterilize Pacifiers

Knowing how to properly sterilize pacifiers is an essential skill for any parent. Learn how to sanitize pacifiers and tips to keep them clean for your baby.

Babies are especially vulnerable to germs and illnesses, so protecting them from mold, bacteria, viruses, and other hazards that can easily find their way onto your baby’s pacifier is essential. Use our helpful tips on how to clean pacifiers so you can ensure your little one – and their cherished binkie – is protected!

Sterilize Before First Use

Sterilizing is when you completely eliminate all microorganisms on a pacifier or other object, even those that aren’t necessarily harmful to humans.

Always sterilize each pacifier before your baby uses them for the first time to ensure any germs or substances it may have picked up from the manufacturer are neutralized.

How to Sterilize Pacifiers

One of the easiest and most well-known ways to sterilize a pacifier is to place it in boiling water. 

  1. Heat a pot of clean water to a full boil – meaning, the water is bubbling – and carefully place the pacifier in the water for five minutes. 
  2. Carefully remove with a clean kitchen tool, like a large spoon or ladle. Be extra cautious when working with boiling or hot water!
  3. If any excess water remains in the pacifier teat, gently squeeze it flat and away from you (as water may still be hot) to let out excess water.
  4. Place on a clean drying rack or dry with a clean towel.
  5. Make sure the pacifier has cooled down completely before giving it to your baby.

Another option is to place pacifiers in a clean, heat-proof container before adding the boiling water and following the procedure above. 

You can also use specialized products like microwavable containers and chemical sterilizers designed for pacifiers. For example, Medela’s Quick Clean™ Micro-Steam™ bags eliminate 99.9% of the most common bacteria and germs and thoroughly disinfect pacifiers, breast shields, breast pump parts, and more in about 3 minutes using just a microwave and water.

Just be sure to always read the manufacturer’s instructions before using pacifiers or related products, as some manufacturers may recommend certain sterilization methods over others! For example, our Newborn and Soft Silicone pacifiers come with their own sterilization box, while our Original, Day and Night, and Night Night pacifiers come with a protection cap.

How Often Should I Sterilize Pacifiers?

Try sterilizing your baby’s pacifiers – as well as toys, feeding accessories, and anything else that spends time in their mouth – at least once per month. It’s also a good idea to have a rotation of clean pacifiers to cycle through so your baby doesn’t use the same ones over and over.

If your baby goes to daycare, it’s a good idea to sterilize their pacifiers when they get home. Same goes for occasions when you and your little one might be out and about, running errands, or outside the home for longer periods, as even the cleanest, safest daycares or public spaces can have hidden germs.

You’ll want to sterilize your baby’s pacifiers regularly, but don’t overdo it. Sterilization can be harsh on pacifiers. So long as you’re following best practices for regularly cleaning your little one’s pacifiers and feeding items with warm water and soap, the extra step of sterilization is not usually necessary after every cleaning.

How to Sanitize Pacifiers

You should definitely strive to sterilize your baby’s pacifiers at least once per month, but you should sanitize pacifiers daily. Sanitizing is when you eliminate enough of the microorganisms on an object for it to be considered “safe.”

Regularly washing pacifiers in warm, soapy water is an excellent way to get rid of germs that could potentially cause illness. Just remember to dry them off with a clean towel and don’t leave any remaining soap on them before giving them back to your baby.

Using specialized cleaning wipes intended specifically for cleaning pacifiers is ideal if you’re on the go; need a quick, portable solution; and don’t have easy access to a clean sink – Just make sure they’re free of harsh components, like alcohol and bleach, and are designed exclusively for cleaning baby items such as pacifiers, breast shields, and feeding accessories.

Here's What Not to Do When Sterilizing Pacifiers

It’s not recommended to clean a pacifier that has, say, fallen to the ground by putting it in your mouth first. This doesn’t remove any harmful germs and can instead get both you and your baby sick.

Don’t use UV or steam sterilizers on dirty pacifiers, unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer. It’s also not recommended to freeze pacifiers or leave natural rubber latex pacifiers in direct sunlight. This can cause the materials they’re made of to break down.

Learning to properly clean and sanitize all the different things that may find their way into your little one’s mouth – whether it's pacifiers, feeding accessories, teethers, or even their favorite toy – will quickly become second nature as you and your baby continue to establish a daily routine. You’re doing a great job, mama, and Medela is here for you every step of the way!