Review: Pipila UV O3 Pacifier Sterilizer

Photo of a Pipila sterilizer with a blue spherical lid and two pacifiers lying next to it.

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.

Three photos of a pacifier being placed into the Pipilia and the germicidal light being activated.

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


8 Responses to “Review: Pipila UV O3 Pacifier Sterilizer”

  1. Calee says:

    We had a very short run with the pacifier but I might have bought one of these due to a NICU stay and a bit of germaphobia…

    August 5th, 2008 at 7:56 am

  2. Michelle says:

    I agree with you that this product could be further improved by letting us, the public, know more about how it work.

    I love the idea of the high pitched screams – you should get a patent for it before all the big companies steal your idea!

    August 5th, 2008 at 8:07 am

  3. My Boaz's RUth says:

    Germaphobia is certainly big out there.

    I could see our church nursery getting one.

    Me? I’m not that paranoid about dirt… I don’t LIKE DS picking up food off the ground and eating it. But as long as I know it is actually food and not something else, I’m not too concerned.

    He doesn’t use a pacifier much, but when he does I’m not too concerned about it falling on the ground then put back into his back. I guess I figure, as long as he is crawling around on hands and knees which his face close to the ground, and then putting those same hands into his mouth (without being wiped off first) — well, what sense is it to worry about something that was on the ground being put in his mouth?

    Oh, he also picks up his toys off the same ground and puts them in his mouth. Now, if something ended up in the toilet, or a mud puddle or something, I’d confiscate it/clean off his hands right away before he could get them back in his mouth. But it has to be pretty big dirt/ick factor to get my attention that way.

    August 5th, 2008 at 8:23 am

  4. K G S says:

    What’s the advantage of this over washing with soap and water?

    August 5th, 2008 at 9:45 am

  5. AJ says:

    KGS, cleaning a pacifier removes most of the foreign material on it. Sterilization kills the organisms present. Soap and water is a cleaning procedure, not a sterilization procedure.

    I’ve not had head lice, but I imagine it’s like that. Soap and water doesn’t do a complete job, it requires special treatment.

    Cleaning your teeth with your toothbrush is a cleaning procedure. The hospital sticking something in your body requires sterilization, per my nurse-wife’s definitions. In case you’re wondering, yes, there are UV toothbrush sterilizers now. I’ve read a few articles over the years about how scary and disgusting a toothbrush can get due to its being damp much of the day. And then there’s the “aerosol effect” where vapor (invisible to the eye) from a toilet flush travels 6 to 8 feet.

    August 5th, 2008 at 11:11 am

  6. Sara says:

    I agree with My Boaz’s Ruth. Germs have not ever been much of a concern for me. Of course, if I had a child that needed special care due to immunity issues or something like that, I would be more careful. We have made it through 2.5 years of life with our little one and not a lot of emphasis on germ killing, and he has not been sick very much at all. I must say #2 will get similar treatment. One less $40 gadget to think about buying, at least for me.

    August 5th, 2008 at 12:29 pm

  7. midge says:

    I agree with Sara and Ruth. We have several pacifiers, but not because one of them is ever getting cleaned, mostly so we can find one upstairs/downstairs/in the car!

    With child #1 we didn’t try to shield her from germs, we wanted her to build immunity from germs! We have the same approach with #2.

    The market for baby stuff is so saturated with gadgets you have to ask yourself, do we REALLY need this???

    August 6th, 2008 at 9:10 am

  8. AJ says:

    All I can say is, you guys are never babysitting my kid. My rule of thumb is to not put a pacifier or food in my baby’s mouth if I wouldn’t be willing to put it in my own.

    In terms of building resistance, preschool does a good job. My 4-year-old was sick twice in 3.5 years, but has been sick several times since starting school. I’d much rather deal with a sick preschooler than a sick infant.

    August 6th, 2008 at 9:40 am