So you’ve eliminated your need for disposable straws by investing in a reusable version – awesome!
But now you have a reusable straw to clean… it’s important to keep your reusable straws in clean, working condition so you can use (and reuse) them for years to come. Replacing a “reusable” straw every few months makes it a LESS sustainable option than disposables!
With the right tools and materials, keeping a reusable straw clean is no big deal. In this article I’m going to share with you my best tips, tricks, and tools for how to clean a straw.
The Best Straw Cleaning Tool
When it comes to properly cleaning your reusable straw, start by investing in a dedicated straw cleaning brush.
Straw Cleaning Brushes
Choose a brush with bristles that are just wide enough to touch all interior surfaces of your straw. You want to make sure there is friction between the brush and the straw. That way the brush can effectively clean and loosen any smoothie debris that might get stuck inside.
Straw Cleaning Brush Alternatives
Don’t have a straw brush on hand? You can get pretty far using a pipe cleaner from your kid’s craft kit.
I have also seen people loosen smoothie debris with a long piece of dental floss laced through the straw.
How to Clean a Straw by Hand
- Rinse your straw under hot running water or soak it in a basin with hot soapy water.
- Scrub the exterior with a brush, cleaning cloth, or sponge and a little bit of dish soap.
- Scrub the interior using a straw cleaning brush that has bristles wide enough to touch all interior sides of the straw.
- If there is stubborn food debris inside of the straw, dip the straw cleaning brush in some baking soda then continue to scrub inside the straw.
- Rinse the straw clean with hot water.
- Dry your straws by standing them upright in a glass or in the utensil compartment on your dish drying rack.
How to Clean a Straw in the Dishwasher
Some reusable straws are marketed as dishwasher safe. Dishwasher safe reusable straws are typically made from materials like silicone, stainless steel, or glass.
To clean these straws in the dishwasher, load them into the utensils compartment and wash in a regular dish cycle.
With that said, unless you’re strictly using your straw to drink water, the dishwasher will not always (ever?) be able to thoroughly clean or remove stains from the inside of your straw. I recommend giving the interior of your straw a quick scrub with your straw cleaning brush before loading it in the dishwasher.
How to Clean a Straw On the Go
If you travel with a reusable straw, don’t pack it away after use without giving it a quick “on the go” clean!
When you’re finished drinking, try to find a water source (a cup of water, drinking fountain). Take one or two sips of water through your straw. This will help to remove any smoothie, coffee, tea, or other residue from the inside of your straw.
If sipping water isn’t an option, don’t stress. Just know that it will require a bit of effort to clean later. Also know that your straw carrying case will likely need to be cleaned as well!
How to Deep Clean and Sanitize a Straw
Deep cleaning is for the occasional sanitization (when you get sick, if your straw develops mold, or if there is stubborn “gunk” that needs to be loosened).
In these instances you’ll want to soak your straw in a sanitizing solution of white vinegar and hot water.
- 2 tbsp Distilled White Vinegar
- 1 cup Hot Water
Soak your straw in the vinegar and hot water solution for 10 or more minutes. Follow up by scrubbing the straw with dish soap and baking soda if necessary. Rinse clean.
Which Reusable Straws are Easiest to Clean?
One of the factors I always consider before investing in any new item is “how much work will this be to clean and maintain?”
Reusable straws are no exception! Reusable straws are sold in a multitude of materials – some of which are super easy to clean, others are absolutely not.
The three types of reusable straws listed below are my favorites because they are long lasting, sustainable alternatives to disposable straws AND they are easy to keep clean.
I like using silicone straws for smoothies and kids cups. I like that they are gentle on teeth and if any stubborn smoothie debris gets stuck on the inside, I can pinch the straw to loosen it!
Glass straws are great because you can actually see exactly how clean they are. That means there is little chance for stains or debris to accidentally develop.
Stainless Steel Straw
Stainless steel straws are long lasting and hold up well to heat. You can regularly sanitize them in boiling hot water without any concern of wearing them down or damaging them.
Hardest to Clean Reusable Straws
If you’re concerned about keeping your reusable straws super clean, you might want to reconsider investing in any of the below.
Bamboo is a fantastic, sustainable alternative to wood in most household products and supplies. The problem with a bamboo straw is that it can (and likely will) get moldy over time – especially if it is regularly wet or exposed to liquids.
You can minimize mold concerns by occasionally cleaning bamboo straws with a highly diluted chlorine bleach solution, or you can just invest in one of the straw materials mentioned above and avoid this concern!
Not only is plastic an environmentally damaging material, it is not particularly easy to keep clean. You can boil plastic to sanitize, but doing so regularly will break down the plastic material and it will degrade over time.
Curly Plastic Straw
An even less practical plastic straw option is the childhood classic: curly straw. While these straws come in fun drinks and make for festive party cup decorations they are impossible to keep clean, take a long time to dry (hello, mold), and are not sustainable made.