Tuesday, August 5th, 2008
Review: Pipila UV O3 Pacifier Sterilizer
Last year Thingamababy discussed the notion of sterilizing pacifiers by using ultraviolet light, making the claim, “You can expect to see UVC products as standard fare on baby store shelves in the coming years.”
Two months ago I profiled an interesting portable battery-operated bug zapper for your pacifier, but it was sold only in Australia.
Hot diggity, Pipila has come stateside and I got my hands on one for review.
Sterilizing a binkie is simple. First you rinse your dummy under water to flush away the parking lot grit or your cat’s hair. Then you open the Pipila’s lid, insert the soother’s teat into a hole in the center of the device and gently press down. A light pops on, then you close the lid and wait six minutes.
The lamp’s glow is fairly dim, but the instructions caution, “Do not stare directly at activated lamp with lid open.”
During that six minutes an ultraviolet lamp is disrupting the cellular structure of bacteria on the binkie. Ultraviolet light (UVC) is known as germicidal light and has been used for decades in hospitals to sterilize air (here’s an informational video from WebMD). Last year, UVC entered the retail market in vacuum cleaners. To some extent ozone (O3) generated by the Pipila’s lamp has a similar germicidal effect.
Six minutes seems too long for a parent to want to sterilize after every pacifier drop, but it could work if you give your baby one of your many spare pacifiers (we have at least four in rotation in our home). And, of course, tether the binkie to your baby’s shirt whenever possible.
The lamp should be cleaned every two weeks with a dry or slightly damp Q-tip or gauze to maximize its bug murdering potential.
The unit is powered by 2 AAA batteries accessed by twisting the base “anticlockwise” according to the instructions. That’s the British / Aussie term for counter-clockwise, and I’m guessing a left-hander wrote the instructions. It’s counter-clockwise if you’re twisting the top half of the unit, or
clockwise if you’re twisting the base. Oh, but I digress…
The Pipila is 3.5 inches wide and 4 inches tall. A pressure latch on the lid is sufficient that you could place it in a medium to large diaper bag without incident. The lid prevents the inner chamber from being pressed into activation.
If the Pipila has a failing it’s that there’s no visible, tangible effect from using it. You won’t know that your child averted getting sick from some bug you killed. The light goes on, the light goes off and you trust the germs are dead.
The product claim is, “It kills up to 99.9% of germs on a pacifier” and through the Aussie website we know it’s been tested by the National Association of Testing Authorities, the government-endorsed national laboratory in Australia.
Pipila and other new UV products would be well served by having Consumers Union (Consumer Reports Magazine) independently test and verify the germ-slaughtering efficiency of the devices to lend them impartial credibility.
Pipila’s US product box and instruction manual lacks detailed information about germicidal light, failing to talk up the science behind the device, the science that most people, or at least most Americans, don’t know anything about. Educate us!
Sure, most parents will be content to carry a couple extra pacifiers with them and clean by water rinsing alone… but there is surely a market for parents who want to sterilize their pacifiers and do so faster and easier than existing gadgets that steam bugs to death in the microwave or dishwasher, or even boiling pacifiers on the stove (which is the recommended method listed in most pacifier package instructions).
I just wish, when you activate the Pipila, that it would play a brief recording of high pitched screams.
“You cursed brat! Look what you’ve done! I’m melting! Melting! Who would have thought a little light could destroy my beautiful wickedness? Oh, what a world! What a world!“
Pipila available from Hygiene Innovations, Inc. via PipilaUSA.com.