When people make the switch to reusable straws, it is usually with the best intentions — specifically, cutting down on the amount of landfill garbage they produce everyday. They’re great the first time you use them, but before long, the entire set is sitting at bottom of the sink, and you’re out of clean straws.
Sure, they came with that little brush, but that takes effort. “I’ll just rinse them,” you think. Or perhaps, because you only use them for water, you assume that they’re somehow self-cleaning. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. And, like any other spots that are frequently exposed to moisture, reusable straws tend to end up filled with bacteria.
Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt, and say that you’d definitely be cleaning your reusable straws if you only knew how to do it. Well, you’re in luck, because Elsie Yang walks us through the process in an article on Well+Good. Here’s what to know.
How to clean reusable straws
Most reusable straws are made of metal, plastic, bamboo, or silicon, and the way you clean them varies, depending on the type. Here are your options:
The little brush
There is one method that works for all types, and that’s using that little brush. “Create a soap and water mixture and insert the brush into reusable straws made of any material, rubbing back and forth to ensure that you’ve removed all particulates,” Yang writes. “Then, rinse the soap out of the straw.”
Although technically all types of reusable straws can go in the dishwasher, Yang notes that those made of plastic will eventually break down and warp. Metal, bamboo, and silicon all do fine in there. But make sure to place them over the prongs or in the silverware basket so that jets of water and detergent can get inside the straw too. Just setting them down flat isn’t going to help.
Some silicon, metal, and bamboo straws can be sterilized in boiling water, Yang says. But before popping them in the pot, check their washing instructions first (just in case it says not to do that).