Sep 202012
cleaning shake straws

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.

In this picture, these straws have been washed in dish detergent and had water run through them. Notice the clearer straws – you can see gunk in the ridges despite being cleaned (the traditional way).

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:

Right click to open this picture and the top picture and place them side by side on your screen. Much cleaner wouldn’t you say?

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 :

DISGUSTING HUH??? Click on the picture to get the full effect!

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 πŸ™‚

  98 Responses to “Thursday Thriftiness – Easy Way to Clean Plastic Straws – Shake, Sippy, Water Bottle, Curly”

Comments (98)
  1. I bought some glass straws but did not buy the cleaning brush – big mistake. I will try this process. I also want to braid some cotton yarn to be big enough to fill the straw. I will put the straws in the dishwater and pull the braid back and forth. This will be even cheaper, if it works, as the braid can be washed and reused.

    • The braided yarn sounds like a fabulous idea. I don’t think it would work on all straws like the shake straws (because of the ridges), but in your case I think it would. It might be a bit of work though threading the braids through the inside of the straw? You’ll have to let me know πŸ™‚

    • i love this idea. never knew it. thank you

  2. Neat idea. We have a set of brushes to clean straws. The pack of 4 brushes wad less than $4, and last … Forever.

    • Where did you find the set of straws?

      • Hi Elyse – I’ve gotten many from cups that I’ve purchased over the years that come with them – the ones usually with covers and straws for kids. I’ve also purchased them at Dollar Tree. Many of our local restaurants use them in kid’s drinks as well, and then I just bring home the straws. If you have a local Dollar Tree – usually around events like Valentine’s Day, Xmas, Halloween – you can find them. These usually have a sleeve over the top of say – stacked hearts, stacked pumpkins or skulls, snowmen or Santa and come in packages of four. I’ll buy those and take the sleeve off.

    • Where do you buy the brushes to get into the ridged straws. No clue what the name of the straws are called but they are accordion like and bendable. I need a long brush to clean them. Send email to

      • Try doing a search on using the words – brush straws. If you find the ones you’re speaking of – please share the product with us πŸ™‚ I’ve also responded to the email address you requested.

  3. Pipecleaner will also do the job!

  4. I have been using chenilles, like pipe cleaners, florists use them, anyway for straight straws they work fine but the straws with the ridges in them they don’t work very well. I’m going to try the denture cleaner.

    • So glad you found the post helpful. I need to update it – soak your straws in hot water for a bit, before soaking. Doing that seems to soften the crap in the ridges; thus making it where you may be able to get away with only one cleaning. I tried this the last time and it worked wonderfully!

  5. Alright so the above about braided yarn, I tried it. it took 2 feet of yarn (sorry i dont know what that is in metric units) which allowed enough trial and error trying to get it on wooden stick you would make kabobs on. prefer the metal kind cause the wooden ones tend to fray. it works! i had one end frayed with a knot and one end just a simple knot the frayed end worked better. when pushed into the straw it fills the space around the tip of the sick and the braid itself to clean the straw and gives a little wiggle room if it doesnt fit the space. for bigger straws do the same but wrap the braid around optional add one long string around it if its not big enough. trim to desired look, functionality, or length.

  6. Love this post! I’ve been using plastic straws for my 2 year old recently but didn’t know how to really clean them until just reading this post! Thank you is all I can say!

  7. Would never even think about using denture cream to clean plastic straws. This is amazing!

  8. That sounds like a good idea. I personally would just throw it out and get a new one.

    • Throwing them out would be easier Lisa – my problem, I’m much too frugal – if I can find a way to recycle, up-cycle, reuse – I’ll find it!

  9. I try to save and reuse things all the time. I agree, when you pay to eat at a fast food place, grab some straws. They gouge you on the meal price to begin with.

  10. Wow! This has got to be the best tip I have seen in a while! This is awesome. Who would have ever thought about doing this? Great post! Thanks so much! I have a million of these for my grandchildren.

  11. I never would have thought of denture cleaner. I just throw the straws away but now I’ve got this tip so my draw will be overflowing. by the way, that was disgusting!!!

    • It was disgusting. I was keeping them in a drawer too, but found a round container to put them in – they seem to store much better that way for me.

  12. I’ve read that denture tabs can be used to clean quite a few things. Even the toilet bowl. I haven’t tried it yet. But, you show proof that they do a good job. It makes me re-think just rinsing my drinking straws with water.

    • Got a nasty vase, Lisa? They work great on those too! I tend to root my own plants and sometimes forget to change the water as often as I should. So – that leaves nasty slime in the vase and depending on the vase size – pop that tablet in and I’m good in a few hours without having to touch the slime (I hate any kind of slime).

  13. This is wonderful, I cannot wait to give this a try. I did not think there was a way to get those reusable straws clean.

  14. WOW! and EWWW! Thanks for the Terrific Review on Thursday Thriftiness – Easy Way to Clean Plastic Straws – Shake, Sippy, Water Bottle, Curly! I only have maybe 1 or 2 of those kind of straws around the house. I purchased a huge container of straws a long time ago and still have most of them! They are plastic and whenever we use one, we just throw it into the recycle bin! I try so hard not to keep any plastic straws that we reuse because I know they don’t come clean the traditional way! Thanks for showing me what was left inside your straws! Now I know that I can clean these straws for reuse with Denture Cleaner! I learned something new tonight! Thanks so much for sharing your terrific review, the pictures, and the personal and professional information on Thursday Thriftiness – Easy Way to Clean Plastic Straws – Shake, Sippy, Water Bottle, Curly
    with all of us! I honestly appreciate it! Thanks again! Michele πŸ™‚

    • You’re welcome Michele. The whole thought of the nastiness of the straws is enough to make one’s stomach hurl. I’m thankful I decided to see what denture cleaner would do for them, as the thought of buying them constantly – well, that just doesn’t trip my trigger.

  15. I can’t believe that a straw can get so dirty especially if they’re rinsed after each use. It’s really pretty gross.

  16. LOVE this idea. I have noticed build up, and set them aside, looking for a cure, now I have found it. I guess we stop at the dollar store today! Thank you for this!

  17. That’s a great idea! It really gets all the hidden crap out

  18. I think I’ll pick up a box of denture cleaner tabs next time I go shopping. I’m always looking for cleaning products that are safer to use.

    • I do believe you’ll be happy that you did pick up a box. I’d love to hear what your thoughts are, after using them πŸ™‚

  19. I use to put mine in the dishwasher but they would get bent out of shape, etc. This is great!

  20. I’ll let you know. And, yes, I do have a vase that could stand a good soaking. Some containers are just difficult to clean. I’m thinking I’ll hit the coffee pot first.

  21. that is interesting. i never even mess with cleaning mine just throw them way and get new ones

  22. I just cannot thank you enough for this idea! It is brilliant! Simple and easy, and buying from the $ store, cheap! LOVE it!

  23. Yahoo! I just won two dozen roses in time for mothers day. I’ll start with the vase to have it ready for when they’re delivered.

  24. Never knew that! Thanks for sharing!

  25. Thank you for the information. I never thought of denture cleaner. Thank you

  26. Thanks for the Fantastic Review on Thursday Thriftiness – Easy Way to Clean Plastic Straws – Shake, Sippy, Water Bottle, Curly! I only have maybe 2 of those kind of straws around the house. I purchased a huge container of straws a long time ago and still have most of them! They are plastic and whenever we use one, we just throw it into the recycle bin! I try so hard not to keep any plastic straws that we reuse because I know they don’t come clean the traditional way! Thanks for showing me what was left inside your straws! Now I know that I can clean these straws for reuse with Denture Cleaner! Thanks so much for sharing your fantastic review, the pictures, and the personal and professional information on Thursday Thriftiness – Easy Way to Clean Plastic Straws – Shake, Sippy, Water Bottle, Curly
    with all of us! I absolutely appreciate it very much! Thanks again! Michele πŸ™‚

  27. why didnt i think of this i know you can use tablets for other stains tea stains the straw bad

    • You didn’t think of it, just like I never thought of using one for cleaning the coffee pot – as another reader brought to light. It’s okay – we live and learn.

  28. this is a good idea. i never have try cleaning straws that way.

  29. Ew, I don’t have kiddos, but I am totally remembering this tip. Thanks for sharing.

    Diana C

  30. I tried your method but still had some sort of fruit juice gunk left over, so I took some cotton swabs and filled the straw with those and kind of did a push/pull movement to get some of the residual junk off. That seems to work pretty well after a couple of attempts with some soaking & rinsing in between. This was a rigid straw that comes with the insulated coffee shop go cups for chilled beverages, btw.

    • Ah…thanks for sharing your findings Kim – appreciated. Very seldom do I use those types of straws, but knowing what your experience has been, I will certainly pay attention to how they get cleaned.

  31. I have two types of straws that need cleaning, that will not be thrown away. One is a hard plastic straw, one for a tall plastic drinking glass and one for a short drinking glass, but no ridges. The other straws are made out of a special rubber like material (I forget what it’s called) but, they’re safe to drink from. Denture Cleaners !! It’s always something simple like baking soda and the like to do the great cleaning jobs around the house. What would P&G say !!!!

    • Right Alan! What would P&G say. Denture cleaners are great for washing out vases too! Your rubber straws are probably silicon straws? Glad you found a solution to your straw cleaning issue πŸ™‚

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  33. Doctor’s offices have LONG Q-tips. Simply ask, they may give you some to use. So pleased & grateful.

  34. That is just brilliant!! What a fabulous idea! I wish I had known this way back when.

  35. This is such a great idea. I bet it is also a great way to clean toothbrushes. I am totally going to try this.

  36. good tips,,i have some of my grandkids that i need to clean asap will try this thanks

  37. I would of never thought about using denture cleaner. That’s an awesome idea.

  38. Oh my gosh, I would have never thought to use denture cleaner on straws. This will save me so much time and frustration. Brilliant!

  39. Oh I hate these straws but they are much needed in our household, lol. This tip is genius! I feel like I can never get them as clean as I’d want them to be but now I shall try this method out!

  40. This is awesome, thank you so much for sharing! I have little straw brushes to clean these things, but soaking the brushes would be a good idea too! I have never thought about using denture cleaner for this, I can’t wait to try it!

  41. This is brilliant! I never thought to use denture cleaner tabs…

  42. What a great idea! I often thought about how to clean properly the reusable straws we have. I would not have thought of denture cleaner!

  43. I will need to try this process since I have some straws I can’t use because of the ick factor. Granted the reusable ones are good for the environment but cleaning them is a pain. I do use paper straws currently made from recycled materials.

  44. This is a brilliant idea. I’ve been meaning to buy some glass and/or stainless steel straws and I’m sure I will buy a brush for them too but I still like your tip also! I think even using a brush it would still help loosen it up and get it all out better. Very clever!

  45. Thank you so much you just saved me a lot of money. I bought my son a Infuze bottle for work and could not get the flip up lid cleaned. I thought I was going to have to pitch it I am going out to buy some denture cleaner tonight and try it. I never thought of that working.

    • I so hope this works for you! I don’t know anything about those bottles but if you can save yourself from having to buy another – it will be well worth it!

  46. I never thought of cleaning straws like that.

  47. omg…this is life changing! We have been using reusable straws for several years. Of course I clean them the traditional ways, but this…! Thank You!

  48. These are so nice looking good

  49. Gross! I feel bad because of the way I’ve been washing them. πŸ™ Thanks for sharing….will be running by Dollar Tree and getting a box!

  50. I also save straws but just wash them in the sink. Thanks for the great idea.

  51. We don’t use reusable straws as the kids help with dishes. Even with me washing them I don’t feel I could clean them and have them always be sanitary. If we ever do start using straws I’ll keep this in mind.

  52. Wow, what a brilliant way to clean your reusable straws! I am definitely going to do this! Not only do I have three kiddos, but we all use stainless steel and glass straws as well. Thank you so much for sharing!

  53. That is a great tip, one I had not thought about to be honest! We have several of these types of straws and I am going to try this out to ensure that they are clean. I kind of have them set aside and haven’t used them after initial use but wanted to keep them because they are so nice to have. Thanks for posting!

  54. I love your ideas of cleaning up straws, I recycle mine, I am going to try that denture cleaning way next time.

  55. I love this. I want to help save the planet to. My son uses straws and it gets expensive buying the biodegradable ones after a while. This will save some money and above all the planet!

  56. What a great idea!! I use denture cleaner for many things (including the toilet). Now I have a new use.

  57. I had no idea about using denture cleanser to clean plastic straws. How amazing!

  58. Do you have any idea how many plastic straws I have thrown away because I couldn’t get them clean?? Thank you so much for this great idea!

  59. I put mine in the dishwasher. Now I wonder if that’s really getting them clean. I haven’t been sick in 8 years, so I guess this doesn’t rate a spot on my list of things I worry about. πŸ˜‰

  60. The denture tabs are a fantastic idea. I have tossed many decent cups because I just couldn.t get the straws clean enough.

  61. Ive never seen this before but will pin it so if others use straws they know how to keep them clean too.

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