How to Clean a Pacifier

Keeping Your Child's Pacifier Safe

Keeping your little one's favorite pacifier clean cuts down on dirt, bacteria and other potential contaminants that can make him sick.

You can't leave home without the precious binky; it's the one thing that soothes your little one in the most trying of situations. But what do you do when the pacifier hits the dirty floor at the mall? And how often do you need to clean it? Study up on your pacifier washing skills to keep germs and dirt out of your little one's mouth.

How to Clean Pacifiers

If you opt for a one-piece silicone pacifier, you're in luck. You can pop the pacifier in the dishwasher any time you want a thorough cleaning. Put it in the silverware holder to keep it from flying around inside the dishwasher. The hot water removes dirt and kills many of the germs on the binky.

Another option for cleaning a pacifier on a regular basis using hot water and soap. This method usually gets the pacifier clean enough, especially for older babies who have stronger immune systems. You can rinse the pacifier under hot water without soap in a pinch. Washing the binky with soap and water is a quick option, which is perfect when your little one demands it back immediately.

To sterilize the pacifier, drop it into a pot of boiling water for five minutes. The heat from the boiling water kills most of the germs on the pacifier and removes residue. Sterilizing is a good idea when you get a new pacifier and after your baby has been sick.

How Often to Clean Pacifiers

The pacifier goes directly into your baby's mouth, so you want to clean it frequently to keep germs away. How often you clean it depends largely on how often your baby uses the pacifier and what happens to it while she uses it. Always sterilize your baby's pacifier before the first use. Even if it's sealed inside a package, the pacifier may come into contact with dirt, germs and other contaminants at any point in the production process. Play it safe with a run through the dishwasher or a sanitizing boil.

Another time to clean your baby's pacifier is any time it hits the ground, especially in a public place. You never know what's on the floor, and you definitely don't want the mystery contaminants in your little one's mouth. Head to the nearest bathroom to wash the pacifier in hot water before giving it back. At home, you can use hot water and soap for a quick wash.

If your little one is like most kids, you'll wash the pacifier several times throughout the day when it hits the floor. If the binky doesn't hit the floor often, it's a good idea to do a quick daily wash with hot water and soap. You can also toss it in with a load of dishes at the end of the day to keep it clean. It's especially important for babies under 6 months to have clean pacifiers, so wash them more frequently when your baby is little.

Cleaning vs. Sterilizing

Cleaning refers to removing dirt, grime and other surface contaminants from the pacifier. Washing the binky with soap and water is an example of cleaning. Sterilizing kills most of the germs on the pacifier. Extreme heat is usually the method of sterilizing a pacifier.

After you sterilize a new pacifier in boiling water the first time, you don't need to sterilize it too often. You can occasionally throw your baby's binkies in a pan of boiling water, but the dishwasher also does a good job of killing germs on the pacifier.

When to Replace Pacifiers

No matter how religiously you wash your baby's pacifiers, you eventually need to replace the beloved binkies. How often depends on the amount of use the pacifier gets. Instead of replacing them after a certain amount of time, do regular inspections to look for signs of wear. Things like discoloration, holes, weak spots, tears and separation mean it's time to part with the binky.

You also need to replace pacifiers as your child gets older. Binkies come in different sizes to best fit babies of a certain age. If you give your toddler a pacifier designed for a newborn, he may stick the entire thing in his mouth, which turns it into a choking hazard. Stock up on his favorite binky in multiple sizes, so he never has to go without the treasured comfort item.

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