Once your little one starts on a sippy cup, you know they are really starting to get bigger!
Able to hold their own drinking device by now, it’s a pretty exciting time for both of you.
I loved shopping for cups of all sizes, colors, and designs.
But, the one thing I disliked about them was all the little nooks and crannies that existed within the cup.
Ribs, spouts, fine lines, straws, spouts, and stoppers often trapped debris from the dishwasher, and even worse—mold from time to time!
You simply can’t have your baby sipping on that, you know?
So, what’s a mom to do?
Keep those cups clean! Not sure how?
Read on to find out!
Dangers of a Dirty Sippy Cup
As a mom, I urge you to check your child’s cup on a daily basis.
I always rinse cups out even after taking them out of the dishwasher (and I certainly pre-rinse them before putting them in).
Instead of shaking off some drops and wetness, be sure to thoroughly dry the cups and crevices with a paper towel (not a dishrag) before stowing the cups and accessories away in the cabinet.
Thoroughly drying them gets you in the habit of not just keeping mold at bay, but checking for mold in the meantime.
What’s the Deal With Mold?
Well, mold is a danger to your child’s wellness and makes your child’s cup quite dirty.
Plus, mold becomes problematic when it grows. Mold is a fungus that has tiny spores, and it thrives in warm and wet environments, especially in little cracks and crevices that a sippy cup has.
Spores reproduce quickly and when your child is exposed, they can start to cough, wheeze, have nasal drippage, develop asthma, or other yucky respiratory illnesses.
But, when mold forms on your child’s sippy cup, what you need to worry about is your child ingesting it, more than breathing it in.
And, ingesting mold is even more so dangerous if your child has an allergy to mold.
You’ll notice typical allergy symptoms like swelling, rashes, redness, or breathing difficulties (which needs immediate medical attention).
It’s important to remember that a clean cup equates to a happy, healthy child and mommy.
So now that you know about the dangers of mold, you want to make sure all your cups stay super clean.
I know that I always sterilized my cups, much like I did for my bottles, on a regular basis.
It takes but a moment to toss them into a microwave steam/sterilizer system, or soak them into a pot of boiling water.
You can clean multiple cups and parts at once, and before you know it, cleaning the cups will become a part of your regular cleaning routine.
Using Cleaning Ingredients
Other moms prefer to physically apply cleaning ingredients to the cups to get the job done. Bleach solutions, vinegar, and tea tree oil are all favorite germ, bacteria, and mold zappers.
Just be sure to remove any kind of chemical residue that may subside before serving the cups to your kiddo. You can do this by rinsing the cup with hot water and a soapy solution, and patting it dry.
If you plan on using bleach, a common “recipe” to whip up includes two teaspoons with a gallon of water. It’s powerful enough to get the job done in just two minutes.
Many moms put this homemade solution in a water bottle for easy access and use (just be sure to keep it out of reach of curious hands).
The Sink Method
Another way you can address dirt and grime in cups is to submerge the cups in your sink. Again, be sure to pre-treat the area, making sure it’s clean and free from crumbs, cleaner residue, and other substances that could harm your child if ingested.
Then, simply plug up your sink and mix some organic dish soap with warm water.
Let the cups, straws, lids, and stoppers soak for about 15 minutes or so, before rinsing again and drying.
When's It Time to Toss the Cups?
You may be a pro with keeping up on your cup cleaning. But, cups do have a shelf life.
Cups that come with straws and spouts should be checked regularly and any indication of mold (especially if spores reappear after treatment), should be thrown out.
Many parents make the mistake of coveting sippy cups, but if they’re labeled “Take and Toss” like many cups are, then they should be replaced at the end of each week or so.
This expense can add up over time, but there was no amount of money I wouldn’t pay for my child’s health and safety!
In addition to the cleaning and sterilization recommendations above, here are a few helpful tips to consider to keeping your kids’ cups clean:
- Don’t let liquid hang out in cups. As a mom, you’re busy, and I know I’m guilty of leaving a cup (or two) sitting around the house filled with water or juice. If you find yourself doing this, try to do a scan around the house each evening and rinse the cup out with warm water and soap, before placing it in the dishwasher. This will reduce the chance of spores growing and multiplying.
- If you place sippy cups and their parts in the dishwasher, wash them right away. Again, I’m totally guilty of this, but I’m not doing anyone any favors. The dishwasher is warm and moist, so it’s a breeding ground for mold and other yuckies. So, if you place a cup inside, be sure to run your cycle.
- Always choose the heated dry option. A great way to avoid mold from forming on cups is to make sure your dishes and accessories get heated dry. This way, the cup isn’t remaining overly moist.
- Try to wash just cups and other baby/kid stuff together. I’ve often found wet food remnants and other “stuff” inside cracks and crevices of my kids’ cups after taking them out of the dishwasher. No matter how well I pre-cleaned my plates, I couldn’t beat this dilemma. So, I started just washing all kid stuff together, not with any plates or containers. It seems like a hassle, but saved me time in the long run because I’d always have to sterilize my stuff when they got gunk on them from the dishwasher.
- If you don’t have a dishwasher, utilize a drying rack. If washing cups by hand, allow them to drip dry for about a half hour, and then thoroughly wipe them clean and dry before putting them away. Placing them in an upside down position is ideal, rather than standing the cups and lids up, trapping in moisture and wetness.
- Always pull out straws. If you’re sterilizing or washing, always remove the straw. Parents get scared of losing these small parts, but the circle around the straw needs to be addressed, as does the tube of the straw itself. In fact, this is where mold pops up the most, and is actually the least investigated part.
- If your cup smells—get rid of it! Even after sterilizing it or washing it, if your child’s cup has a strange odor, or the juice or water tastes “funny” then it’s time to toss the cup.
- Treat the stoppers. Many parents forget the stoppers. These items are placed in the cup until your child can master the cups’ flow. These stoppers can house lots of dirt, grime, mold, and even bacteria. They are easy to pop in and out and should be thoroughly dried before being replaced.
- Use a bottle brush for spouts. You can purchase a small, thin bottle brush to clean spouts interiors. Nipple brushes are also sold and may be a better fit for shorter, thinner spouts or straws. On a budget? A toothpick or Q-tip will also do.
- Purchase a UV light. UV lights are great for zapping germs and bacteria not just on bottles, but on sippy cups as well. They are a little pricey and they take up some space, but they work quickly and are highly effective. And, if you used them for your bottles, you’re getting more of a return on your investment.
- Never reassemble wet pieces. If they’re wet when you put the parts back together, the wetness gets locked and trapped.
- Don’t use a dishtowel. Dry your cups and accessories with paper towels. While this is less environmentally friendly, it can ensure that addition germs or bacteria isn’t deposited onto the clean cups since fabric attracts these things (and holds onto them).
As a parent, your child’s health, safety, and well-being is your top priority.
Their sippy cups need just as much attention as their bottles did.
Follow the suggestions above to make sure your cups are always clean and always free of mold and other residue that could make them sick or affect their liquids.