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The days of plastic disposable straws are long over for a lot of people. Since the later half of the 2010s, the movement to abandon the plastic straw has grown particularly popular, with many states banning or limiting the use of single-use straws and big companies like Starbucks and Disney making the same commitment. Plastic straws contribute to just some of the staggering 8.8 million tons of plastic that pollute our oceans (via NBC News), which is why it is important to make changes, no matter how small, regarding single-use plastics.
There are several alternatives to plastic straws, from compostable ones to paper ones, but the most commonly available are typically metal, silicone, or glass. Having reusable straws on hand is a great way to protect the environment and save money at the same time. But, it's important to make sure you're properly cleaning your reusable straws so they're not a breeding ground for bacteria. Luckily, cleaning your reusable straws doesn't require much skill or effort. With a few common household items, here's how you can easily clean your different reusable straws.
How to Clean Metal Straws
The only downfall to metal straws is that because they are opaque, it can be difficult to tell if there are any spots of food or debris stuck inside. Because of this, it's important to thoroughly clean your metal straws frequently after using them. Start by filling your sink with hot water - enough that you can fully submerge the straws - and a good dish detergent. Let the straws soak for at least five minutes so the soapy water can break down any trapped particles. After, use a long bristle brush to scrape the insides of the straws. Let the straws air dry and you're ready to use them again. If you're in a pinch, metal straws are also generally safe to put in the dishwasher, though it can be helpful to quickly scrub the inside with a bristle brush beforehand to make sure there's nothing stuck inside.
How to Clean Silicone Straws
Similar to the process of cleaning metal straws, cleaning silicone straws is simple and can be done in just a few steps. Submerge the silicone straws in the sink filled with hot water and dish soap. Soak the straws for five minutes or so, and rinse with warm water. Use a bristle brush to clean the inside of the straws. In a pinch, you can also use a pipe cleaner to do the job. Like metal straws, silicone straws are also safe to put in the dishwasher, just be sure to put them on the top rack.
How to Clean Glass Straws
To clean glass straws, first rinse them with warm water. Then, give the glass a good scrub with a bristle brush, hot water, and dish soap. Doing so should eliminate any residue and leftover particles trapped inside the straw. Because glass can get foggy or cloudy from repeated use, try soaking the straws in a solution of vinegar and baking soda to help restore its shine.
Best Straw Cleaning Brushes
Just as there are a ton of plastic straw alternatives out there, there are similarly a bunch of straw cleaning brushes, which can make it difficult to decide which option to choose. A good cleaning brush for your metal, silicone, or glass straw does not have to be expensive or fancy. Here are some reliable, great straw cleaning brushes you can get right now.
Target has plenty of reusable straw options, as well as cleaning brushes. Try the Bottle and Straw Scrub Brush Set ($7), which will definitely come in handy for your straw and water bottle.
This OXO Good Grips Water Bottle Cleaning Set ($12) is perfect for cleaning your reusable straws, water bottles, or bottle lids.
If you have multiple straws or bottles, the GFDesign Drinking Straw Cleaning Brushes ($5) are perfect for any size straw and have a unanimous five stars on Amazon.
If you're looking to clean your straws and put your money toward a good cause, check out LoveIsGlobal on Etsy, who sells a Coconut Shell Bristled Stainless Steel Brush for Reusable Straws ($3). Ten percent of the purchase goes toward Save the Whales and the Center for Whale Research.
You can't beat this Reusable Metal Straw & Brush Set ($10, originally $17) from Martha Stewart's collection at Macy's. With four metal straws and two cleaning brushes, it's a great starter kit to have on hand.