Today’s Thursday Thriftiness is on an easy way to clean plastic straws – those reusable plastic straws – shake, sippy, water bottle, curly – any reusable straw. They’re really hard to get clean. And should you think yours are getting clean by simply washing them the traditional way – they aren’t. I am choosing to highlight shake straws for the purpose of this writing because they are used every day in our home.
These straws come in the covered cups I buy for my son. I also confiscate these straws when we are at Friendly’s if they happen to come with any of our beverages – I’ve paid for them right? So why not take them home and reuse them? I have quite the stash, so I can get away with washing them the traditional way and then set them aside for a deep cleaning.
I promise you that washing plastic straws such as these the traditional way does NOT get them clean. They may look clean – but they really aren’t, as you’ll see in the last step. If you put the beverage in the fridge with the straw – you’re doomed at being able to get the build up out of the ridges the traditional way (take a look at the first picture below. You’ll see build-up in the ridges from my son’s LNA’s not taking the straw out and washing it out before putting the cup with the straw in the fridge). Even if they are washed out – a build up occurs on the inside of the straws – you just don’t notice it until you’ve deep cleaned them.
You can enlarge that picture – simply click on it. Were you able to see that nasty gunk? Some of straws have gunk from flavored milk, others from juices. Disgusting huh!?! Don’t fret though! They can be saved!
Here’s the product needed to clean these straws, or any reusable straw:
No, you don’t need expensive denture cleaner to get the job done! These Family Dollar tablets work wonders.
You can clean yours the very same way I do mine by following these steps. Get yourself a container similar to the one above. Lay out the straws as you see in the pictures (the container I use – is a disposable wipes container. Now fill the container with HOT water – enough to cover the straws and drop in two tablets.
To get the cleaner into the straws – simply hold the container in your hands and while doing so, drop one hand down and then back up and repeat with the other hand – like you are trying to create waves. I do this several times before I add weight onto the straws like this:
Here I’ve used a flat rock that happens to be one that was decorated for my daughter. It fits in the container perfectly, holding down the straws so that they stay in the solution. The rock isn’t so heavy that it squishes the straws – you don’t want it to do that. I now let the straws sit in the solution overnight. Every now and then, I will do the wave motion described above, to filter the solution into the straws as well as rotating the straws in the solution (important because usually, the straws aren’t completely filled with the cleaning solution).
When all is said and done here’s what they look like:
Okay…so now I’m gonna gross you out. You wonder what has come out of those so-called clean straws that now have been deep cleaned with the denture cleaner? Take a look :
All that crap you see in the water after removing the straws is from the build up in the straws. There’s chocolate, strawberry, and coffee milk build up, and crap from juices that have been released. NO dirt or other debris got into this container for the mere fact that I cover the container while they are cleaning because of all my cats – I don’t want them thinking they can drink this water.
If for some reason a straw doesn’t look like all the crap has been released – do the process again. I had to do this with this particular batch because I could see areas in some of the clearer straws that just didn’t look clean enough for my liking. More than likely – I let the straws sit way too long before deep cleaning them – usually they come clean the first time around. Regardless, I am glad that I did – take a look at the second batch of water:
So you see, cleaning them isn’t difficult, is cost effective, saves the planet, saves me money, and I have a peace of mind knowing there isn’t any bacteria in the straws when my son drinks from them.
If you find this process helpful. or have an easy way to clean plastic straws, I’d love to hear what you have to say 🙂