Since I’ve made the switch from single-use plastic straws to using eco-friendly reusable drinking straws, I have learned several different ways of cleaning them. Reusable drinking straws are durable and long-lasting, especially when you practice proper cleaning care for them. Cleaning your reusable straws is not complicated at all and can be done in a matter of minutes.
So, what is the best way to clean your reusable drinking straws? The best way to clean your reusable drinking straws is to invest in a good set of cleaning brushes. Find the correct length and diameter that fits with your reusable straws to make cleaning a quick and painless task.
There are some additional basic washing instructions you should follow to ensure your reusable drinking straws are properly cleaned and cared for. This will also help prolong the life of your reusable straws regardless of which material they are made of.
How to Find the Right Cleaning Brush
The majority of the reusable drinking straws that you may buy from online retailers will come with a handy cleaning brush included. These brushes are similar to the concept of a typical pipe cleaner you may see in an arts and crafts store, but they have a metal handle and hook for easy grabbing along with much thicker bristles for effective scrubbing. These cleaning brushes can also be sold separately from online retailers, usually in packs of 4 in various lengths for around $4-8.
Since you probably use your reusable straws for different types of drinks on-the-go, you should make a habit of cleaning your straws out daily. Sugary drinks, juices, smoothies, and coffee can leave an unpleasant sticky residue and odor on the inside of the straw. No thanks! This can also be a problem for reusable straws that have a bend at the neck. For sanitary reasons, you will want to be sure your brush will reach all the way through your straw without any problems.
When choosing the right size of your cleaning brush, make sure you get a cleaning brush length that is longer than the drinking straw. Reusable straw lengths may vary in size but a common length is around 10-11 inches (25-28 cm). Extra-long straws used for larger drinking containers may go as long as 12 inches (30.5 cm).
Cleaning brushes also vary in length but can be found as small as 4 inches (100mm) to longer than 12 inches (305mm). When in doubt, always go longer when choosing a cleaning brush to match with your reusable straw.
You don’t want to miss scrubbing any part on the inside of the straw. If you are using a wider diameter straw (10-12mm), those which are best served for thick smoothies or milkshakes, make sure the bristle diameter is greater or equal to that of the straw (10-12mm or more). The bristles should be snug to enter into the straw when cleaning, this way you will be sure to get every last nook and cranny cleaned to perfection.
We like the Alink Simple Drink Straw Cleaning Brush Kit (link to read reviews on Amazon) as it comes in five different lengths and four different diameters, so it can easily fit all of your reusable straw cleaning needs.
You may have found other clever ways of cleaning reusable straws, most of which can be cumbersome and involve small single-use pipe cleaners which cannot be reused. Most reusable drinking straws are dishwasher safe, however, it is impossible to ensure the inside of your straw is fully cleaned. In order to avoid any potential bacteria build-up and prolong the life of your reusable straws, a simple clean with a good cleaning brush after each use will suffice. This can be done in less than 5 minutes.
- Rinse the inside – the sooner you can do this after using, the better. This will prevent any residue from building up on the inside. Cap your finger at the bottom of the straw and place the top of the straw under the warm water running from the faucet. Allow the straw to fill up, then release your finger to let the water run through. Do this several times until you feel that the hot water has sufficiently been run through. If you still notice that there is any smoothie or juice residue, you can blow some air through to clear it out.
- Scrub the inside – add a small amount of dish soap to your brush then push it through the straw. Scrub vigorously up and down the straw. Don’t forget to scrub the openings where you put your mouth and on the outside of the straw. Repeat this again from the other side of the straw.
- Add baking soda – this is an optional step for a more thorough cleaning and will give you some extra scrubbing help. Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda on top of the cleaning brush and repeat step two.
- Rinse – when you are done scrubbing, run the straw under hot water for another minute to clean out any extra dish soap or baking soda that may be remaining.
If you are cleaning reusable straws that have been neglected over time (old residue or mold present), you may need to soak the straws more sufficiently beforehand before starting this process.
Simply fill your kitchen sink halfway with warm soapy water and fully submerge the dirty straw by placing a dish on top of it. Let the straw soak for 10 minutes to loosen up the mold or tough residue. Then you can get onto scrubbing with your cleaning brush.
Drying and Storage Instructions
- Pat dry the outside of your reusable straws with a dishcloth.
- Let the inside of the straws dry naturally. Place them at an angle in a dish drying rack (where you would place silverware) or let them drain into a cup. You can also angle them against the sidewall of the sink or kitchen counter if possible.
- Do not store your straws away until they are fully dry on the inside. Doing this can cause a potential build of moisture and bacteria.
- Store your reusable straws in a well-ventilated place and avoid putting them into airtight sealed containers.
A Faster Cleaning Method
Another (even quicker) option for cleaning straws is the “shaking jar” method. This will not require a brush but when done right, it can quickly clean multiple straws all at once. This works best when you have straws that don’t have much food residue inside.
Simply place your straws into an extra-large mason jar with warm soapy water, secure the top, and shake vigorously. Continue shaking for about 1 minute or until your arms and wrists tire. Be sure to grip securely with both hands so you don’t drop it! This should clean both the inner and outer parts of your reusable straws. Follow the same drying and storage instructions as above.
Reusable drinking straws come in many different eco-friendly materials such as glass, stainless steel, silicone, bamboo, copper, or plastic. Keep in mind the cleaning and drying time may vary depending on the material, with glass straws being the easiest to clean due to their transparency and bamboo straws drying very quickly due to the all-natural properties of bamboo.
Reusable stainless steel straws and glass straws are some of the most durable reusable drinking straws available. To ensure the longevity of your reusable drinking straws, adhere to the above cleaning and storage instructions to avoid having to toss out neglected moldy straws.
If you are reading this, chances are you have already made the easy switch from using single-use plastic straws to using reusable drinking straws. For more information on different types of reusable straws, check out our ultimate guide and reviews on the best reusable straws. We wish you happy drinking with your reusable straws, may cleaning become easier than ever!
Can you reuse plastic straws? Single-use plastic straws are not made to be reused. They have very low durability and if reused, they may cause toxins to leach into your drink. Go eco-friendly and opt for one of the many different types of reusable drinking straws.
Are reusable straws sanitary? Reusable drinking straws are sanitary when properly cleaned and cared for. By following proper cleaning and storage guidelines, reusable drinking straws are more sanitary than single-use plastic straws.