What are specific recommendations for cleaning calf bottles?

The main reason for washing calf-feeding equipment is to minimize bacteria and other pathogens present at the next feeding. Proper cleaning procedures include rinsing, washing, rinsing, and allowing to completely air dry.

Step 1. Rinse in lukewarm water. Rinsing can be accomplished by spraying or by immersing in water. Make sure you rinse both the inside and outside of calf buckets, bottles, nipples, and other feeding equipment. Water temperature is very important. If too hot, protein from milk or milk replacer will adhere to the side of the feeding utensil, forming a film and potential growth medium for bacteria.

Step 2. Wash in hot, soapy water. Wear gloves, and wash feeding equipment with hot water (~140 degrees F). Use a chlorinated cleaner or a combination of detergent plus bleach. Brushing and wiping action removes the soil from the surface while soap and chlorine kill bacteria. Milk solids are suspended in hot water but will reattach to feeding utensils if water temperature falls below 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure your water temperature does not fall below 120 degrees when washing feeding equipment.

Step 3. Rinse with acid sanitizer. Many operations rinse calf bottles, etc. with warm water to remove soap residues. The preferred method is to use a warm water rinse with acid sanitizer. The hot water removes soap, and the acid sanitizer lowers pH on the surface of the feeding utensil. Most bacteria do not grow well under acidic conditions. Bacteria counts would be much lower when rinsed with an acid sanitizer over a simple warm water rinse. Acid sanitizers should be diluted in water following label directions. Acid sanitizers designed for manual cleaning of bulk tanks work well in this application.

Step 4. Allow to air dry. Bacteria require moisture to grow. Arrange calf bottles and/or buckets on racks where they can dry out before the next feeding. Do not stack buckets together before they are dry. Do not set a freshly cleaned bucket upside down on the floor.