Microwave sterilizers are a staple in many households, particularly those with infants and young children. These devices provide a fast, efficient, and convenient method for sterilizing baby bottles, pacifiers, teethers, small toys, and breast pump accessories. However, using them properly can be a bit tricky if you’re not familiar with the process. In this in-depth guide, we will walk you through the steps on how to use a microwave sterilizer effectively and safely.
To use a microwave sterilizer, first ensure your microwave and items to be sterilized are clean. Add water to the sterilizer, load the sterilizer with items, and place it in the microwave. Microwave the unit on full power for the recommended time based on the sterilizer’s manual. Allow the unit to cool for at least 5 minutes before removing it from the microwave. Then, remove the sterilized items carefully, and remember that if left unopened, the contents will remain sterile for up to 24 hours. Always follow safety measures to prevent scalding and other accidents.
What is a Microwave Sterilizer?
A microwave sterilizer is a device that uses microwave radiation to sterilize objects by killing bacteria, fungi, spores, and viruses present on surfaces. The primary function of a microwave sterilizer is to ensure that baby bottles and other products are free from harmful bacteria and germs, making them safe for use by infants and young children. They work by using the principle of dielectric heating, which involves the vibration of water molecules that undergo friction to produce heat and kill microorganisms.
Why Do We Need to Sterilize?
Sterilization is important for certain household items to prevent the spread of infectious pathogens and diseases. This is particularly crucial for items that come into direct contact with our bodies or the food we consume. For instance, in healthcare settings, sterilization is essential to ensure that medical and surgical instruments do not transmit infectious pathogens to patients. In the kitchen, sanitizing tools and equipment prevents pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and molds from spreading to your food.
Items That Can Be Sterilized
A microwave sterilizer can effectively sterilize a variety of items. These include baby bottles, pacifiers, training cups, parts of a breast pump, dental instruments, and teethers. It’s important to note that while microwave sterilizers are effective at killing bacteria and germs, they do not clean the items. Therefore, items should be thoroughly washed to remove any residue or dirt before being sterilized.
Steps to Use a Microwave Sterilizer
- Clean the Microwave: Before using a microwave sterilizer, ensure your microwave is clean. Remove any food splatters and greasy buildup on the inside walls, door, top, and bottom.
- Clean the Items to be Sterilized: Wash all bottles and feeding accessories in warm soapy water or in a dishwasher (top rack only) to remove any milk residues. Separate all components for washing and reassemble teat and screw ring for sterilizing.
- Add Water to the Sterilizer: Always add 200ml of water before use. Ensure the unit does not boil dry. Some sterilizers may require a different amount of water, for example, the Munchkin microwave sterilizer requires 7 fluid ounces of water.
- Load the Sterilizer: Place the bottle parts in the locators as shown in the sterilizer’s manual. Make sure the sides of the lid are securely fitted over side buttons.
- Microwave the Unit: Place the sterilizer in the microwave, and microwave on full power according to the table on the right. The time required will vary depending on the steamer and the wattage of your microwave.
- Allow the Unit to Cool: Always allow at least 5 minutes cooling time before removing the sterilizer from the microwave. This is to prevent scalding from the hot water and steam.
- Remove the Sterilized Items: Wash your hands thoroughly before handling sterilized items. Take care as the items will be hot. Remove the sterilized items.
- Storage: If the sterilizer is left unopened, its contents will remain sterile for up to 24 hours.
Safety Measures When Using a Microwave Sterilizer
It’s important to note some safety measures when using a microwave sterilizer. This includes adding the correct amount of water, setting the right microwave settings, allowing sufficient cooling time, and handling the sterilizer properly to prevent scalding. It’s also crucial to keep the sterilizer out of reach of small children.
In conclusion, a microwave sterilizer is a vital tool in maintaining the cleanliness and safety of your baby’s feeding accessories. By following these steps and precautions, you can ensure that your baby’s bottles and other items are free from harmful germs and bacteria.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I sterilize plastic toys in a microwave sterilizer?
Yes, you can sterilize plastic toys in a microwave sterilizer, but make sure the toys are microwave-safe and free from any metal parts. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
How often should I sterilize baby bottles and other feeding accessories?
It’s recommended to sterilize baby bottles and other feeding accessories each time they are used, especially for infants under 6 months. After this age, it’s still important to clean and sterilize items regularly, but it doesn’t need to be done as frequently.
How long does the sterilization process take in a microwave sterilizer?
The sterilization process in a microwave sterilizer can take between 2 to 6 minutes, depending on the wattage of your microwave and the specific sterilizer instructions.
Can I use a microwave sterilizer for other items like cutlery and plates?
Yes, you can use a microwave sterilizer for other items like cutlery and plates, as long as they are microwave-safe. However, remember to clean them thoroughly before sterilizing.
How long can sterilized items be stored in the sterilizer?
If the microwave sterilizer is left unopened, the sterilized items inside can remain sterile for up to 24 hours. After this period, it’s recommended to re-sterilize the items.
Is it safe to touch the sterilizer immediately after the sterilization process?
No, it’s not safe to touch the sterilizer immediately after the sterilization process. Always allow at least 5 minutes cooling time before removing the sterilizer from the microwave to prevent scalding from the hot water and steam.