So your tot has outgrown his or her baby bottle but is not yet ready to navigate grown up glasses and cups. sippy cups to the rescue! With features such as no drip caps and resilient BPA free plastic bodies, life couldn't get any better for a kid who has to focus all his energy strategizing his next tantrum.
But there is a downside. As with most things, the best attributes of a sippy cup are also what makes it most difficult to utilize. Namely, the mildew and scum that develop in the small crevasses just underneath the the lid. Easily overlooked, the mildew and fungus develops because of the no-drip feature, which typically comes in the form of a small plastic or silicone disk that gets inserted immediately beneath the cap. It is designed not to let water escape, often trapping that liquid within its tiny crevasses. The lack of fresh air and surplus of moisture are the perfect playground for nasties to grow. Yuck!
The best way to avoid this grossness would be by thoroughly washing out your child's sippy cup, however the tiny curves and bends of the design are often too tight for sponges and even fingers to get into. You could also choose to disinfect it in the dishwasher, but if you do not like the idea of exposing the plastic to such high temperatures, this is the instructable for you!
I'll show you how to thoroughly clean a sippy cup using two different methods. Let's get started!
Step 1: Materials
For the Brush method, you will need a bottle brush which can be bought at any supermarket or drugstore. If you don't want to bother with buying a bottle brush, you can use the Rice Method (uncooked rice or beans- more on this later)
For both methods you will need:
Step 2: Removing All Attachments
Sippy cups have gotten fairly complicated, in so much that any non-drip sippy out there will have at least 3 parts. Disengage all of these attachment until your are confident that there are no more removable parts. This step is important because it will allow all pieces and angles to get a thorough scrubbing, something a dishwasher cannot do.
In the pictures, I show you different kinds of sippy cups. The first is a straw sippy, consisting of 4 separate parts, and the second is a typical sippy cup, consisting of 5 separate parts. Both cups have silicone attachments, the usual suspect for housing mildew.
Step 3: Brush Method
If you have a bottle brush, you probably have a "nipple brush" that is screwed into the handle. This pipe-cleaner-sized brush is great for getting into small crevasses of the lid. Use the bottle brush to give the cup a good once-over.
After you scrubbed it a bit, your cups will be ready for their Bath.
Step 4: Rice Method
If you do not have a bottle brush, take some uncooked rice or beans and pour about 1 tbls into your sippy cup. Add in 1 tsp of dish soap along with 1 tbls water. Screw the lid on tight, and shake shake shake! The rice or beans will act as an agitator to help remove larger pieces of accumulated gunk.
After you've shaken your heart out, your cup will be ready for its Bath.
Step 5: Preparing the Bath
Fill a bowl with warm to hot water, and add in about 2 tbls white vinegar and 1 tbls dish soap.
Fully emerge all proponents of your sippy cups and let stand for 30 minutes to an hour.
Why this works?
Vinegar has strong antibacterial properties, effective for killing most mold, bacteria, and germs, due to its level of acidity. One test by Good Housekeeping's microbiologist found that 5% vinegar is 90% effective against mold and 99.9% effective against bacteria.
Whereas the dishsoap will help to carry away any tiny bits of food particles from the sippy cup.
Step 6: Submerged in Bath
Let your sippy cups enjoy their bath for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Sometimes I just leave it overnight because I'll forget about it, knowing that the vinegar and dish soap do not contain abrasive chemicals that will eat away at the plastic (think: bleach)
Step 7: Reassemble & Enjoy!
Reassembly can get pretty complicated, but you're probably used to that by now. Rest assured that the mold or mildew that was beginning to form is now completely gone, leaving behind nothing but the beverage you pour for your child.