These days a lot of reusable straws come with their own handy cleaning brush – just like a pipe cleaner but usually a little more sturdy. But what happens when you don’t have one? Ever wonder how to clean reusable straws without a pipe cleaner? This happened to me the other day and I had a really hard time finding the info online. After a while of searching, here’s the best advice I could find:
If you don’t have a pipe-cleaner or wire straw cleaner, the best options to clean reusable straws are to boil them, use dental floss or string, use steam from an espresso machine, use a Water Pick, use long q-tip, denture tablets, a dishwasher, or use a thin stick such as a chopstick or bbq skewer with a small scrap of fabric.
So as you can see there are a few different methods for cleaning reusable straws without pipe cleaners. The one that works best for you is of course going to depend on what you have available, but it also depends on what your straw is made of.
Here’s a more in depth summary of our favorite ways to clean straws if you don’t have a pipe cleaner or straw cleaning brush:
A good long boiling is one of the best ways we’ve found to clean stainless steel, glass, and silicon straws. It also sterilizes them too, which is a nice bonus.
- Pot of boiling water
- Vinegar & baking soda (optional)
- Find a pot large enough to submerge the straw in and fill it with water (you can also add vinegar and/or baking soda to help the cleaning)
- Place straws inside the pot
- Bring water to a boil for at least 10 minutes
- Let cool down (if boiling glass straws, DO NOT immediate put them in cool liquid)
- Rinse with clean water
- Presto! A clean and sanitized straw.
Note – this works best with stainless steel, glass, or silicon straws – don’t try this with bamboo straws.
Another note – while you can boil glass straws, make sure you don’t drop them into boiling water when they’re cold! Glass straws are made of Borosilicate glass, which is the same kinds of glass that Pyrex brand dishware is made of as well as the beakers that a chemist might use. They’re able to withstand very high temperatures (much higher than boiling water) but they’re very susceptible to thermal shock if you bring them from one temperature extreme to the other too quickly. For example if you take a glass from the freezer and toss it into a hot oven, there’s a very good chance it will crack. LIkewise, if you take a glass straw from boiling water and put it into a cold drink, it will also likely break. You have to let glass straws gradually adjust from one temperature extreme to another.
This method works great on all kinds of straws and is even better when the straw has first been soaked in soapy water. Adding in a little baking soda can also help improve the scrubbing action.
- Dental floss, or something similar such as a clean shoe lace or other string.
- Soap & Water
- Baking soda (optional)
- Put a small amount of dish soap and water into the straw or submerge the straw in soapy water
- Pass some dental floss or other string through the straw and keep tight and rub the straw back and forth while rotating it around
- Rinse out the straw with clean tap water
Espresso machine – Heat up some steam and as long as your reusable straw is relatively thick, press it against the steam shoot for a few seconds on each side. Afterwards, run water through it.
Water Pick – A high-pressure dental water pick is a great way to clean out anything that may be stuck inside a straw. You can also put a few drops of dish soap in the straw first to help loosen things up.
Long Q Tips – Like this kind. Use some water and dish soap and scrub the inside of the straw with the Q Tip. 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 the straw overnight in warm soapy water is a great way to dislodge any nasty stuff inside. The next day, rinse some clean warm water through it or try the next method to get it even more clean.
Soap And Water Shake – With one finger covering the bottom of the straw, pour some soap into the top. Then pour some warm water into the straw. Cover the top end as well with another finger and then shake the straw back and forth to try to loosen any debris inside. Then rinse it out with some clean water. This method isn’t extremely effective, so you may need to repeat several times. This method tends to work best after you’ve soaked the straw in soapy water overnight.
Dishwasher – Dishwashers are fantastic for cleaning reusable straws, so If you have a dishwasher, this is a great option. It tends to work best if you can put the straw upright in a utensil rack where water can spray up into it. This method is not recommended for bamboo straws since they’re too fragile.
Denture Cleaning Tablets – A weird option, but if you have these tablets on hand they should leave your straws clean and smelling minty. Submerge the straws in a container of water and add one or two denture tablets. Wait a while, and then rinse with clean water to get out any leftover residue. Repeat if needed.
Thin Stick – Bamboo skewers, chopsticks, or any other thin stick can be a good way to dislodge any food that might be stuck inside a straw. Soap and warm water will help loosen the food remnants and disinfect the straw. Adding a small scrap of fabric to the tip of the stick and pushing it through the straw can also work well.
Now that we’ve gotten through the various ways to clean straws without the proper tools let’s be clear; cleaning reusable straws is way easier with proper straw cleaners. The right tool makes the job look easy, as they say.
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Chris Gannon lives in Fort Lauderdale with his wife and 2 young daughters and is the Editor-in-Chief at Clean Finds. He enjoys helping readers learn more about living responsibly by writing primarily about conscious consumerism, green business trends, and environmental conservation.