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Milton Cold Water Steriliser review

Milton’s cold water sterilising solution has retained its foothold in the market for 70 years, even when competing with the design advances of electric steam and microwave models. There’s a simplicity and low-tech flexibility about it that lends itself well to scaling up for large piles of gear – one of the reasons it’s popular on maternity wards and with parents of multiple babies.

By Rachel Jeffcoat | Last updated Mar 1, 2023

milton cold water steriliser

Good for parents who

  • Have multiple babies, use a lot of bottles per day or want to sterilise a variety of items including breast pumps, toys and dummies

  • Want a solution that doesn’t affect the energy bill


  • Can be easily scaled up and down for different quantities of equipment and equipment in awkward shapes

  • Inexpensive to buy and maintain

  • Items remain sterile for 24 hours and can be added and removed as necessary


  • The large bucket should be kept out of reach when in use and will take up the sink or a reasonable amount of counter space

  • The sterilisation fluid smells strongly of chlorine – so will the baby equipment and your kitchen

Key specs

  • Materials: Plastic

  • Included: Container and weighted grid

  • Available from a wide range of retailers, including Boots and Amazon

  • RRP: £17.50 – sterilising tablets sold separately at £1.50 for 28

We used a Milton Cold Water Steriliser - it was so easy.

What’s the Milton Cold Water Steriliser like to purchase and assemble?

The Milton Cold Water Steriliser is widely available from retailers like Boots and Amazon. It’s 25 × 16.5 × 24.5cm, so not impossibly bulky and the packaging is minimal – just a cardboard sleeve containing the instructions, which is more environmentally-friendly than many of the best sterilisers we tested like the plastic-wrapped Dr Brown's Deluxe Bottle Steriliser and the Nuby Natural Touch Steriliser and Dryer.

There’s no assembly required – a bucket is rather self-explanatory, after all – but be aware that it will need sterilisation tablets or fluid, and the steriliser doesn’t come with any.

Our tester, Maisie, felt that this was rather a missed opportunity for Milton to promote their own products and might catch people out, especially if they’re buying online. The tablets are £1.50 for 28, which isn’t excessive, but there are some other own-brand tablets that are cheaper still. Tesco, for example, do a 56-pack for 75p.

You won’t need to wash the container before first use as the fluid you’ll fill it with is, itself, sterile.

Is the Milton Cold Water Steriliser safe?

The container is made from a sturdy plastic that won’t degrade and should stand up to any amount of rough handling.

It comes with a lid that locks closed and a spout to make emptying it easier. It will be heavy when full so it should be lifted carefully if necessary and kept out of reach of children so that it can’t be pulled over onto a child’s head.

There’s an online instruction video on Milton’s website, which gives the relevant volumes of water and sterilising fluid/tablets if you lose the instructions. The website also includes a lot of information about sterilisation and best practice in general, which is reassuring – their FAQs page is particularly good.

The sterilising solution’s active agent is sodium hypochlorite, which is a bleach, but Milton manufacture it using a purification process that removes the heavy metal ions.

This means that the sterilisation solution isn’t toxic or unstable – if a child ingests it, Milton advise giving them a drink of milk to help ‘neutralise’ the solution and contacting a GP if you’re very concerned. As always, it’s best to keep the unit well away from little fingers.

What’s the steriliser like in day-to-day use?

Milton's five-litre container fits six baby bottles of any brand, plus breast pump parts and toys in any configuration. Items can be taken out or put in as required so there’s no need to wait to run a cycle or leave things out because they don’t fit.

The process involves dissolving tablets or fluid into the container of water and submerging items in it for 15 minutes as per manufacturer guidelines – the NHS recommends 30 minutes. More items can be added as and when they’re used.

The weighted grid supplied keeps all the items under the water so they remain sterile for as long as they’re in the container (up to 24 hours). It’s important to make sure that there are no air bubbles trapped in the bottles or teats before leaving to sterilise.

If you wanted to, you could also use any volume of water in any clean container – as long as you use the correct number of tablets for the volume of water added.

Overall, the Milton Cold Water Steriliser is incredibly straightforward and flexible for those using up a lot of bottles or expressing full-time. Just be aware that the solution will make your kitchen smell like a swimming pool, whether or not the lid is closed.

Once the required 15 minutes are up, each item can be shaken and used without further rinsing – though our tester found her baby equipment smelled of chlorine afterwards and felt hesitant about giving it to her baby (it’s perfectly safe to do so, but the smell is rather off-putting).

As the Milton Cold Water Steriliser isn’t electric, it can be kept anywhere from the sink to the garden. It can also be thrown into a kitchen unit, the under-stairs cupboard or bathroom for storage, which our tester found appealing.

It could easily be transported without damage, but it is large so may not be the best choice for travelling.

The best steriliser for me has been the Milton's Cold Water Steriliser. Definitely the easiest and most convenient as you can add and take things out when needed and it will all stay sterile.

Is the Milton Cold Water Steriliser easy to keep clean?

Milton recommend cleaning the unit with soapy water and drying well once a week.

In practice, the container doesn’t have any nooks and crannies and doesn’t collect dust, so it’s low-maintenance in the extreme.

How does it look?

Alas, there aren’t many ways to dress up a bucket and, sensibly, Milton haven’t tried.

It’s basic and utilitarian, coming in white and grey, and is unlikely to be out on the counter when not in use.

Is it good value for money?

The steriliser costs £17.50, and is often on sale from various retailers, so it’s a small initial cost.

Milton’s branded tablets will set you back another £1.50 per month – and other, own-brand tablets are cheaper still – so ongoing expenses are minimal.

Final verdict

There’s no need to run multiple ‘cycles’, it won’t add to your energy bill and can be scaled up for large quantities of equipment.

Seven decades on, the Milton Cold Water Steriliser remains a gratifyingly simple and adaptable solution for families of all shapes and sizes.

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All prices correct at time of publication

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