The curse of the orange baby bottle

Right at the very beginning of this adventure I washed all bottles and teats by hand, and my god it was extremely tedious. But I’d read somewhere that washing bottles in the dishwasher was ‘bad for your baby’ and I was still in that ‘new mum’ phase where I paid attention to shit advice. Over time, as the novelty of it all started to wear off, a few bottles got chucked in the dishwasher, nothing untoward appeared to happen to the baby and so we carried on.

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Like the girl in the club who overdid it with the bronzer, everyone look at the orange one.

It was around this time that i first encountered the the curse of the orange baby bottle. I went to unload the dishwasher one day only to find that a mystical transformation had occurred. The clear plastic bottles and teats that went in had come out tinged a rather unappealing orange/pink hue.

‘What the jolly fuck is going?!’ on I asked myself.

Everything else in the dishwasher looked normal enough. I just used the regular dishwasher tablet on the same programme I’d used 100 times before, so what on earth had happened??

This first time this happened to me it was Dr Brown’s bottles and I’d only just bought the bloody things at great expense. I tried washing them in hot water and ran them through the steriliser a couple of times, but to no avail. I guess it did fade a bit over time but they never really went back to the way they started and I just got used to it.

Then a couple of months ago when I finally packed up the steriliser (what’s the point when they spend all day putting all sorts of crap they find on the floor in their mouths?), I decided it was time for my little junior to graduate from his faffy Dr Browns to some standard Avent bottles with no internal gubbins, halle-freakin-lujah.

I was very pleased with my shiny new set of bottles. So imagine my dismay if after only a week or so the bloody dishwasher didn’t tango my bottles AGAIN!!

I can’t lie, I really did swear (again). I gave them a scrub, left them to soak for a bit and scrubbed again and they were still slightly orange. I sniffed them, they smelt of nothing untoward and life went on as before, just with a slight orange tinge. But it continued to irritate me, especially as one of the three bottles was still as perfect as the day it arrived, sat there on the work surface next to its two ugly sisters.

I figured I can’t be the only mum that this has happened to and so in the true spirit of Formula Mum I went on the hunt for some facts about why plastic randomly turns orange in the dishwasher.

As it turns out it’s not that random after all, it is entirely the fault of an organic pigment called Carotenoid. Or at least my fault for not making absolutely sure every trace of it had been rinsed off everything else in the dishwasher.

Here’s the science bit. Carotenoids are the natural pigments responsible for making foods red or orange. They are present in great abundance, in various forms, in carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, tomatoes, pumpkin, red peppers etc….you know, the basic ingredients of the majority of baby foods. The red/orange spices (turmeric, paprika, cinnamon etc) are also guilty culprits.

What happens next is your basic carotenoid-oil-plastic love triangle. Carotenoids love oil, they like to mingle with oil and become completely absorbed in it until you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. This fatal attraction taking place in your dishwasher results in the orangey love oil of doom being suspended in the dishwasher water. Plastic, it turns out, is unbelievably absorbent and also has a real weakness for oil… can’t say no, even when plastic knows that oil is completely involved with carotenoid. It’s like a hot and steamy ménage à troi and after 45 minutes the, damage is done, their orangey love child is born.

Now I know all of you reading this will be doing a little inward tut, maybe a little eye roll? Don’t you rinse your dishes before they go in the dishwasher hey Formula Mum? Serves you right you slattern! But this is where it gets tricksy, because I do….and I badger Mr Formula Mum to do it too. I’d be the first to say that if you wang a lasagne encrusted casserole dish in to the dishwasher alongside your plastic bottle arsenal and forget about it, you deserve everything that’s coming to you. But a small child’s bowl with the slightest remnants of a lovingly prepared Annabel Karmel Trio of Mediterranean Vegetables and Red Lentils dinner on it? Are you shitting me?? Really?

Yes people, really. A minor indiscretion is all it can take.

So what can you do to remedy this error? Well, the short answer is not an awful lot, unfortunately. The best chance you have is to act fast and, as far as I can work out do some or all of the following.

  • Soak and scrub – Soak in washing up liquid for 30 minutes then sprinkle them with baking powder and scrub with a warm wet scrubbing brush, rinse, repeat.
  • Put back in the dishwasher – some dishwasher detergents are formulated to remove stains from plastics, load the dishwasher with just the bottle and absolutely nothing orange and run it through a cycle.
  • Find some sunshine – easier said than done in March in the northern hemisphere but the UV in sunlight should have a bleaching effect if it’s strong enough and if the bottles are left out in it long enough. Two very big ‘ifs’, if you live in the UK but worth a go if its summer or if you are elsewhere in the world where it doesn’t rain for eleven twelfths of the year!
  • And finally – get rid and buy some new ones. I really don’t think there is any harm done in continuing to use orange tinged bottles, it’s done my boy no harm at all, as far as I can tell.
    Here he is! No adverse effects, as far as I can tell.

    Here he is! No adverse effects, as far as I can tell.

    But there’s no getting away from the fact that they look grotty and if you’ve got the cash perhaps some new ones for Sunday best would be the order of things.

And so fellow Formula Mums the moral of this tale is…..don’t eat orange food. Ever.

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