So you’ve removed the need for throwaway straws by purchasing a reusable version — fantastic!

However, you now have a reusable straw to clean… It is critical to keep your reusable straws clean and in functioning order so that you can use (and reuse) them for many years to come. Replacing a “reusable” straw every several months renders it LESS sustainable than disposables!

Keeping a reusable straw clean is simple with the correct tools and supplies. In this essay, I’ll offer my favourite techniques, tactics, and equipment for cleaning a straw.

This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

Tools For Cleaning Straws

When it comes to cleaning your reusable straw, start by purchasing a straw cleaning brush like this.

Select a brush with bristles that are just wide enough to reach all of the internal surfaces of your straw. You want to ensure that the brush and the straw are in contact. As a result, the brush may efficiently clean and remove any smoothie debris that may have become lodged within.

You don’t have a straw brush? A pipe cleaner from your child’s art kit will go you very far.

I’ve also seen folks use a long length of dental floss strung through the straw to dislodge smoothie particles.

How To Clean A Straw

How To Clean A Straw By Hand

Rinse your straw under running hot water or soak it in a bowl of hot soapy water.
Using a brush, cleaning cloth, or sponge and a little amount of dish soap, scrub the outside.
Scrub the inside using a straw cleaning brush with bristles that are wide enough to reach all sides of the straw.
If there is tenacious food material inside the straw, immerse the straw cleaning brush in baking soda and scrape the inside of the straw.
Hot water should be used to clean the straw.
Stand your straws upright in a glass or in the utensil section of your dish drying rack to dry.

Cleaning a Straw Without a Brush

Don’t worry if you don’t have a brush and don’t have time to get one. You may still clean your straw using materials you already have around the house. Look through the kids’ art items for pipe cleaners. It makes no difference what colour it is.

Rinse the straw well, soaking it if it contains dried-on muck.
Wet the pipe cleaner and add a few drops of any brand of dish soap to the final few inches of it.
Insert the pipe cleaner’s soapy end into the straw and begin moving it in and out. Continue until the straw is completely clean.
Rinse the straw well and hang it to dry.

Boiling Drinking Straw

One of the best ways we’ve discovered to clean stainless steel, glass, and silicon straws is to boil them for a long time. It also sterilizes them, which is a great added benefit.

  • Boiling water in a pot
  • Baking soda with vinegar (optional)

Instructions

  • Fill a saucepan large enough to immerse the straw in with water (you may also add vinegar and/or baking soda to aid in cleaning).
  • Insert straws into the saucepan.
  • For at least 10 minutes, bring water to a boil.
  • Allow to cool (if boiling glass straws, DO NOT immediate put them in cool liquid)
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
  • Presto! A sanitized and clean straw.

While glass straws may be boiled, do not immerse them in boiling water when they are cold! Glass straws are composed of Borosilicate glass, which is the same type of glass used in Pyrex brand dishware and beakers used by chemists. They can endure very high temperatures (far higher than boiling water), but they are vulnerable to thermal shock if they are moved from one temperature extreme to the other too fast. For example, if you take a glass out of the freezer and place it in a hot oven, it is quite likely that it would fracture. Similarly, if you remove a glass straw from hot water and place it in a cold drink, it will very certainly break. 

How To Clean A Straw In The Dishwasher

Some reusable straws claim to be dishwasher safe. Reusable straws that are dishwasher safe are generally constructed of silicone, stainless steel, or glass.

Load these straws into the utensils slot of the dishwasher and run a standard dish cycle to clean them.

However, unless you just use your straw to sip water, the dishwasher will not always (or ever?) be able to properly clean or remove stains from the inside of your straw. Before putting your straw in the dishwasher, I recommend giving it a brief scrape with your straw cleaning brush.

What else can you clean in your dishwasher? Find out there!

Clean Your Straw With Dental Floss

This approach works well on all types of straws and is considerably more effective when the straw is first soaked in soapy water. A pinch of baking soda might also assist to increase the scrubbing action.

  • You will require dental floss or something similar, such as a clean shoelace or other thread.
  • Soap and water
  • Sodium bicarbonate (optional)
  • Fill the straw with a little quantity of dish soap and water, or immerse it in soapy water.
  • Pass some dental floss or other thread through the straw, holding it tight, and rubbing it back and forth while spinning it.
  • Rinse the straw under running water.

Cleaning Your Straw While You’re Out

If you travel with a reusable straw, don’t forget to give it a quick “on the go” clean after use!

When you’ve done drinking, look for a water source (a cup of water, drinking fountain). Using your straw, take one or two swallows of water. This will assist to clean the inside of your straw of any smoothie, coffee, tea, or other residues.

Don’t worry if sipping water isn’t an option. Just keep in mind that cleaning will take some time. Also, keep in mind that your straw carrying bag will most likely need to be cleaned!

Deep Cleaning and Sanitizing A Drinking Straw

Deep cleaning is for sanitization on occasion (when you get ill, if your straw moulds, or if there is persistent “gunk” that needs to be removed).

In such cases, immerse your straw in a disinfecting solution of white vinegar and hot water.

2 tbsp White Distilled Vinegar
1 cup of boiling water
Soak your straw in the vinegar-and-hot-water solution for 10 minutes or more. Scrub the straw again with dish soap and baking soda if required. Rinse well.

Cleaning Techniques for Extremely Dirty or Germy Straws

It may be tough to clean if someone has left milk or a smoothie in the straw. Mold may even develop in clean straws if water lingers in the straw after you put it away. There are a few tricks that may be useful:

On the straw cleaner, use a light abrasive. Baking soda is effective for removing dried-on smoothie muck.
Soak a mouldy straw made of plastic, silicone, or metal in a weak bleach solution to destroy bacteria.
Dry transparent straws in the sun to aid in the destruction of germs.
If the straw still has pieces in it after cleaning, fill it with water and aggressively blow the water out into the sink with your lips.

Other Ways To Clean Straws Without A Straw Brush

Espresso machine – Heat up some steam, then push your reusable straw against the steam shot for a few seconds on each side, as long as it is somewhat thick. Then, run water through it.

Water Pick — A high-pressure dental water pick is an excellent tool for cleaning out anything that has become lodged within a straw. To help loosen things up, put a few drops of dish soap in the straw first.

Long Q Tips – Such as this type. Scrub the inside of the straw with a Q Tip and little water and dish soap. You could try shorter Q Tips, but they won’t work as well since… they’re… short.

Soak Them In Soapy Water — If you don’t need to use the straw right away, soaking it in warm soapy water overnight is a fantastic method to get rid of any bad material within. The next day, rinse it with clean warm water or attempt the next way to get it even cleaner.

Soap And Water Shake – Pour some soap into the top of the straw with one finger covering the bottom. Then fill the straw halfway with warm water. Cover the straw’s top end with another finger, then shake it back and forth to dislodge any particles within. Then, using clean water, rinse it out. Because this approach isn’t very successful, you may need to repeat it numerous times. This approach works well after soaking the straw in soapy water overnight.

Denture Cleaning Pills – This may seem like an odd choice, but if you have these tablets on hand, they should leave your straws clean and feeling minty. Submerge the straws in water and add one or two denture pills. Wait a few minutes before rinsing with clean water to remove any remaining residue. If necessary, repeat.

Thin Stick – Bamboo skewers, chopsticks, or any other thin stick can be used to remove food that has been lodged within a straw. Soap and warm water will aid in the removal of food remains and disinfection of the straw. A tiny strip of cloth added to the tip of the stick and pushed through the straw can also work nicely.

Finding an Easy To Clean Straw

One of the things I usually think about when purchasing a new item is “how much effort would this be to clean and maintain?”

Straws that may be reused are no exception! Reusable straws are available in a variety of materials, some of which are quite easy to clean and others that are not.

The three types of reusable straws described here are my favourites since they are long-lasting, environmentally friendly alternatives to disposable straws that are also simple to clean.

Silicone Straw

For smoothies and kids’ cups, I like to use silicone straws. I appreciate how soft they are on my teeth, and how I can pinch the straw to release any obstinate smoothie detritus that gets trapped on the inside!

Glass Straw

Glass straws are fantastic because you can see how clean they are. As a result, there is minimal likelihood of stains or debris forming by mistake.

Stainless Steel Straw

Stainless steel straws are durable and resistant to heat. You may sterilize them in boiling hot water on a frequent basis without fear of wearing them out or harming them.

Straws That Are More Difficult To Clean

If you’re worried about keeping your reusable straws clean, you might want to reconsider purchasing any of the following.

Bamboo

Bamboo is a wonderful, environmentally friendly alternative to wood in the majority of household items and supplies. The issue with a bamboo straw is that it can (and almost certainly will) get mouldy over time, particularly if it is frequently wet or exposed to liquids.

You may reduce mould issues by washing bamboo straws with a very diluted chlorine bleach solution on a regular basis, or you can just invest in one of the straw materials indicated above and eliminate this concern!

Plastic Straw

Plastic is not only harmful to the environment, but it is also difficult to clean. You can sterilize plastic by boiling it, but doing so on a frequent basis will break down the plastic and cause it to deteriorate over time.

Curly Straw

The childhood favourite, the curly straw, is an even less practical plastic straw choice. While these straws come in colourful colours and make for great party cup decorations, they are difficult to clean, take a long time to dry (hello, mould), and are not manufactured in a sustainable manner.

Environmentally Friendly Straw Alternatives

Consider biodegradable drinking straws if you’re weary of cleaning reusable straws but still want to pick an ecologically responsible alternative to disposable plastic straws. These straws are less likely to end up in landfills and may be less damaging to the environment than their plastic counterparts. Whether you use biodegradable straws or just clean your reusable straws with these ways, you can be confident that your sipping isn’t harming the environment.

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