*** Information correct as of 03/07/2018
UV or Steam Steriliser?
Many parents use steam sterilisers to sterilise baby products while some prefer the traditional method of boiling bottles in hot water.
UV sterilisers for home use are relatively new to Singapore, but Koreans have been using UV sterilisers at home for years. If you’ve been to Korea, you’ll notice them at food courts where they are used to sterilise and store metal utensils and cups. Clinics use them for their equipment and childcare centres use them to sterilise toothbrushes! What gives a UV steriliser more mileage than the steam steriliser is that it can be used way after the baby has weaned for cutlery, combs and brushes, manicure accessories, stuffed toys, spectacles, toothbrushes and even electronics like your remote controls and mobile phones. :O
I chose a UV steriliser over a steam steriliser because I didn’t want the hassle of having to take out the bottles to dry after sterilising, or having to descale the steriliser every now and then. Also, steam sterilisers consume a staggering amount of power at 650W! Without a domestic helper, every bit of time saved counts. A UV steriliser seemed like the most convenient choice – just rinse, flick away excess water, press the button and leave till next use. There was zero risk of getting scalded by steam or boiling water. None of my bottles (MAM, Hegen PPSU) or pump equipment warped or changed colour either.
REGARDLESS OF STERILISER USED, this is how often you should change your bottles and teats:
- Bottle teats: 3 months
- PP bottles: 3 months (PP material does not take high temperatures well, thus it tends to yellow)
- PPSU bottles: 6 months to 12 months (PPSU is of a higher quality plastic which withstands UV sterilisation well)
Mine was a Haenim 2015 model which I bugged my husband to hand-carry back from Korea. It was a basic set with digital timer display, 2 Auto modes, 1 UV mode and 3 Fan modes. Since then, more brands have been brought in by local distributors. What advantages do they have over my old set? Instead of comparing the brands through website reviews and photos, I decided to do a thorough, first-hand review of the Korean brands currently available in the market.
1. BASIC INFORMATION
A) Main Distributor & Pricing
|Brand||Model||Main Distributor||Price||Stockists||Baby Fair Organiser|
|CW-T300||Posh Baby Shop
*No longer selling UV Sterilisers
$329 ($299 for preorder)
(Free 2pcs UV lamps)
(Free replacement kit, cutlery holder)
Warranty for ALL brands
- DOES NOT cover consumable parts like UV and infrared lamps (only Haenim‘s warranty covers consumable parts)
- Must be registered within 14 days
- Not transferable
- Void for issues due to misuse, abuse and alteration by unauthorised persons
C) Power Consumption / Maintenance
Filters must be brushed/washed regularly. For maximum efficiency, replace consumables annually (also depends on usage frequency). It’s time to replace the lamps when they start to dim at both ends. For Cimilre and Haenim, only the UV lamps need replacing as they use PTC heaters with a longer lifespan.
2. PURCHASE EXPERIENCE
A) Availability of Information (Facebook, Website, News articles) & Customer Service
Cimilre * Facebook page closed, sterilisers unavailable on website.
- Cimilre Singapore‘s Facebook page: 416 likes
- No information about baby fairs or promotions.
- Newer Facebook page with 16 likes
- Less than 3 reviews on Naver
- Tardy replies on Facebook Messenger: Took 4 days to reply to the first message, stopped replying since 13th June (page with 416 likes)
- MISINFORMATION: There was no link to replacement UV lamps on Posh Baby Shop.
- Haenim Singapore‘s Facebook page: 1,518 likes
- Updated frequently with reviews, giveaways and product information
- Many blog reviews in English and Korean with detailed product photos
- Fast replies on Facebook Messenger with to-the-point answers (within a day, including weekends)
- Hanil Singapore‘s Facebook page: 1,369 likes
- Relatively up-to-date with event photos, product photos and those of the factory in Korea
- Some English and Korean blog reviews
- Link in About page leads to its distributor’s website with no information on authorised re-sellers. No list of authorised re-sellers listed on Facebook.
- Relatively fast replies on Facebook Messenger
- uPang Singapore‘s Facebook page: 1,089 likes
- Updates are sporadic but up-to-date.
- Purchase link is listed in the About page. Pinned post shows the list of brands that the authorised distributor carries.
- Many reviews in Korean but only 1 in English
- Fast replies on Facebook Messenger
- Each brand only had my email address and house phone number in order to test response speed of email replies
- Haenim called my house phone and was the first to send the steriliser
- Cimilre was responsive via email and fulfilled shipment after confirming the delivery date and time slot
- Hanil delivered the steriliser to my place after calling my house phone
- uPang delivered the steriliser twice – neither my neighbour nor I was at home at the first delivery attempt, so they rescheduled another date.
Vague delivery timeslot: 10am to 5pm was too long for us to “confirm that we will definitely be at home at that time”. Received steriliser the 2nd time with a free cutlery holder.
3. STERILISER COMPARISON
→ Packaging, Manufacturing Dates
Manufacturing dates do not affect warranty start dates but they give us an idea of how well the product sells. Haenim and Hanil sent newly manufactured stock whereas the other two brands sent sets which were manufactured a few months earlier.
- Physical buttons located on top (Safety hazard if operated with dripping wet hands)
- 1 UV lamp is located at the bottom (Risk of short-circuiting if excess water drips onto the lamp)
- Items can be placed on top of steriliser
- Detachable 3-pin plug
- Touch sensor buttons located on the door at the front
- Dual UV lamps located inside at the top
- Items can be placed on top of steriliser
- Detachable 3-pin plug.
- Touch sensor buttons located at the front
- Extra step of opening HEPA filter inlet to activate functions
- Unable to place items on top as HEPA filter takes up too much space
- Dual UV lamps and 1 infrared lamp located inside at the top
- Fixed 3-pin plug
- Physical buttons located at the front (Safety hazard if operated with dripping wet hands)
- Items can be placed on top of the steriliser
- Dual UV lamps and 1 infrared bulb located inside at the top
- Fixed 3-pin plug
All bottles were NUK wide-neck bottles and only the main compartments were used.
Though neither stainless steel nor plastic hinges will rust, metal hinges are less likely to break than plastic hinges. Doors which can open fully are less restrictive.
→ Functions, Display
All sterilisers beep between cycles and revert to standby mode after completion.
- 3 Auto modes, 1 UV mode, 3 Ventilation modes, no Storage mode
- Digital timer display
- 3 Auto modes, 2 UV modes, 3 Dry modes, 1 Storage mode
- Drying mode uses UV & fan instead of fan-only
- Digital timer display, temperature indication (heater shuts off for a while if the temperature exceeds 45°C )
- Bluetooth function to link phone with steriliser via app to control remotely (app monitors time left on each cycle and alerts when UV lamps need replacing)
- 1 Auto mode, 1 Sterilisation mode, 1 Clean mode, 1 Storage mode
- LED light-up display
- 1 Auto mode, 1 Sterilisation mode, 1 Ventilation mode, no Storage mode
- No display
4. UV STERILISER TEAR-DOWN/DISMANTLING
- Incomplete casing (obvious gaps along the screw tracks, may breed insects)
- Wires messily taped onto casing
- Well molded casing with no holes
- Wires neatly braided around main cable holder, no loose dangling wires.
- Well molded casing with no holes
- Wires secured with wire clips
- Dirt marks and scuffs observed on the exterior, only dirt marks could be erased
Though these superficial marks do not affect the functioning of the steriliser, one would expect a brand new item to be without defects
- Well molded casing with no holes
- Wires secured with wire clips, main wire holder
→ Drying Type, Power Consumption, UV lamps
Sterilisers have a sterilising element (UV lamps) and a drying element (heaters/infrared bulbs).
Infrared bulbs are commonly used in heaters and require timers to prevent overheating. Lamps have to be replaced annually.
PTC (ceramic) heaters are incapable of overheating due to an inbuilt thermostat (safer for certain baby products which have temperature limits). Due to a longer lifespan, PTC heaters do not need to be replaced as often.
- PTC heater consumes 20W, more than advertised 17W total (dishonest manufacturer?)
- Estimated total should be 30W~40W
- PTC heater does not indicate power consumption (averages 20W to 50W)
- Estimated total of 80W seems accurate due to technology used (Bluetooth function)
- Infrared lamp consumes 50W, more than advertised 50W total
- Estimated total should be 60W
- Infrared lamp consumes 30W
- Estimated total of 35W seems accurate
→ Sterilising Efficacy
All brands report 99.9% sterilising efficacy with their lab tests and I should think so because the sterilising part depends on the UV lamps from OSRAM or Philips. The lab standard is to test on one baby bottle and 1 teat but only Haenim conducts its tests using 9 bottles and 9 teats.
5. DRYING CAPABILITY TEST
A) Experiment #1: Auto Mode 1
- All sterilisers set to Auto mode 1 (1 press of the Auto button)
- 3 bottle caps with 1ml, 2ml and 3ml of water (total 6ml) in middle of the main compartment
- Skewed experiment as sterilisers have different settings
i.e. Haenim‘s Auto mode 1 runs for 30 minutes (40 minutes for the other brands) with shortest drying cycle of 20 minutes. Cimilre has the longest drying cycle of 35 minutes.
Despite the differences in cycle times, Auto mode 1 was tested because it is the most commonly used mode.
B) Experiment #2: Auto Mode (30 minutes)
- Haenim set to Auto mode 2 (2 presses of the Auto button)
- 1ml of water each in 6 milk bottles (6ml total in 4 NUK bottles, 2 Medela bottles) in the main compartment, 2 wet teats each in bottom compartment
- Standardised drying duration (30 mins) for all sterilisers with Auto mode 2
- Stopped after 30 minutes
Excess water should be flicked away from bottles before sterilising, therefore all sterilisers should dry bottles effectively in typical circumstances.
** CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES ***
A) Hanil: Are 3M HEPA filters safe to use?
In July 2016, 3M Korea was found to have produced and supplied HEPA air filters containing Octylisothiazolinone (OIT), a toxic chemical linked to respiratory diseases. This did not only affect Hanil UV sterilisers which use them but other major brands using 3M filters for their air-conditioners (cars, residential, offices) and air purifiers.
3M Korea claimed lab tests showed that only a minute amount of substances were released into the air and there were no harmful effects to the human body and that in order for OIT to cause harm, a baby weighing 5kg would have to consume 250ml of OIT, or about 65 bottles daily. Hanil Korea then implemented a voluntary recall and refund of their sterilisers. HOWEVER, it was reported in March 2017 on a Korean consumer news website that a man purchased Hanil UV steriliser from a Korea departmental store in July 2016 (part of the affected batch when the issue first occurred) and used it for his child until March when the baby developed a skin condition. He appealed for damages as he believed it was due to 3M’s HEPA filter.
After the recall, 3M Korea stopped production of the affected products while maintaining its stance that the OIT levels were not harmful to the human body. The affected Hanil UV steriliser models (which included HBS900SG – Singapore model) were listed on Hanil Korea’s website as well as other news articles. Subsequently, HBS900SG was subsequently REMOVED from Hanil Korea’s page and Hanil Singapore denied that the Singapore model was affected. They did, however, offer a replacement of HEPA filters to their customers.
3M Korea was also fined in January 2017 for overly exaggerating the antibacterial properties of their 3M HEPA filters which were used in car air-conditioning systems, the most among the 3 other firms who were fined. The advertisements claimed to reduce fine dust by 99% and 3M Korea was fined 1,700,000won (S$ 20,670) by Korea’s Fair Trade Commission.
SO is it safe to use now!?
The set I received from Hanil Singapore contained a 3M HEPA filter. Using the above screenshot I found on Facebook, I told them that I wanted some reassurance that the sterilisers were safe to use.
The screenshot was of a lab test report dated January 2013, more than 4 years ago! The steriliser I received was manufactured in March 2017 so while the steriliser does NOT come from the affected batch, it still uses a HEPA filter from 3M Korea.
It really would have been better if a clarification like the above message was posted on Hanil’s (Korea/Singapore) social media platforms to reassure customers instead of deleting posts related to the issue. So the answer, according to Hanil Singapore, is yes, its sterilisers are safe to use as 3M Korea removed OIT from its filters.
3M HEPA filters containing OIT found in Hanil sterilisers
Hanil denied SG set was affected & replaced filters with new ones though Hanil Korea did a voluntary recall and refund
3M Korea insisted OIT levels in its filters are not harmful BUT a consumer’s child contracted a skin disease
3M fined S$ 20,670 for over-exaggerating its filter’s ability to block out 99% of particulates
Hanil is now safe to use (OIT-free filters)
B) Haenim: Did Haenim use the same name as Haenim Toys in an attempt to mislead people into thinking they were the same company? What about ST Electronics Co. Ltd & ST Electronics?
Haenim Toys is a Korean brand most popular for its plastic play yards. When Haenim Baby was introduced in Singapore, many people were confused between the two companies and alleged that Haenim Baby intentionally copied the name to confuse people who didn’t know any better. In Korean, Haenim Toys is written as ‘햇님토이’ and Haenim Baby is written as ‘해님베이비’. Both refer to the Sun. To English speakers who are not proficient in Korean, this may seem confusing as the English name is romanised the same way.
From the company’s reply, the name was chosen as the UV rays resemble sun rays. I’ve also read comments about people getting confused between Haenim’s parent company, ST Electronics Co. Ltd and ST Electronics (ST Engineering). This seems to be limited to non-Korean speakers as searching “ST Electronics” in Naver displays Haenim’s website as the main result.
Haenim is not related to Haenim Toys
ST Electronics Co. LTD is not related to ST Electronics (ST Engineering)
After comparing all 4 brands, I’ve decided to stick with Haenim. Though it is the most expensive brand among the four on normal days, it is the only brand with a drastic price drop during baby fairs and pre-orders (as low as $299).
- Most functions
- Cheaper to maintain yearly
- Largest in size, door opens wide
- Dual ventilation fans, digital displays
- Fast and responsive customer service
Cimilre has more functions than the other 2 brands and also costs $36 annually to maintain. However, it is my least favourite as the filter was tiny and the incomplete casing with messy wires, combined with a Facebook admin that went MIA on me didn’t give me a good impression. Plus, it blatantly advertised its power consumption at 17W when the heater itself already consumes 20W. -_-
It also doesn’t make sense to rank it over Hanil with its storage mode, HEPA filter (OIT-free…?) and touch sensor buttons. uPang would have been ranked higher if it had a digital display and its door could be opened wider. Nevertheless, it is a no-frills, basic steriliser.
I hope this in-depth review will help you in making your choice when purchasing a UV steriliser!
** This review is an overview of 4 brands and its distributors. It is NOT written with the intention to defame and much effort has been made to ensure that the statements are substantiated by facts. If you are the local distributor of a brand mentioned and would like to clarify any point in this review, please contact me. I received an investment from an independent investor for the purpose of such projects and chose to work on this subject as a start. **