Photo by belchonock @ 123RF.com
If you are looking to contribute to a greener planet by swapping to bamboo straws, you probably want to know how to clean them correctly and make them last more than a few washes. While pretty straightforward, there is actually a lot to know about keeping a bamboo straw in pristine condition. We have compiled all the information, so you can continue to enjoy your smoothies and shakes sustainably.
So, what is the right way to clean bamboo straws? Fortunately, there is more than one easy way to clean and take care of your bamboo straws. The four methods you can use to keep your straws hygienic are:
- Hand-wash with soap and water.
- Boil in water.
- Disinfect it with vinegar and water.
- Put it in the dishwasher.
As long as you take care of it, a bamboo straw will last a long time—even up to several years. Let me tell you everything you need to know about cleaning and protecting your bamboo straws.
What Methods Should You Use to Wash a Bamboo Straw?
Like most utensils and kitchen appliances, you should wash bamboo straws before you first use them and after each use. The simple table below shows when and how you should wash your bamboo straws:
|Upon Purchase||salt and vinegar||Boil to remove residue
and “woody” aroma.
|After Each Use||soap, water, and a brush
or a dishwasher
|Hand-wash inside and outside
of straw or put in the dishwasher.
|Every 1-2 Months||water and vinegar (10:1 ratio)||Boil for 10 minutes.|
(Sources: Natura Made, Jungle Straws, Bamboo Specialists, and Household Wonders.)
The sooner you clean your bamboo straws after you use them, the better. Letting dirty straws sit around for too long will make it a lot harder to clean and cause them to wear out quicker. Sometimes people soak hard-to-clean dishes in soapy water to loosen stuck food, but bamboo straws cannot be soaked for very long.
Alternatively, deep-cleaning bamboo straws is easy: Simply boil water, add vinegar, and let them soak. Make sure they are entirely submerged to ensure an effective washing. Wash both the inside and outside of straws; most bamboo straws come with a small brush that you can use to remove any stuck particles from the inside.
Can Bamboo Straws Go in the Dishwasher?
Bamboo straws that are finished with polish can absolutely go in the dishwasher. You can even put them in the bottom tray with your other utensils. Just make sure that you turn off the hot and dry function. Brands that are unpolished will wear out quicker if you use a dishwasher, and it is advised that you hand-wash them only. If you are unsure whether your straws are polished or not, follow the brand’s specific instructions.
How to Correctly Dry a Bamboo Straw
Always let your bamboo straws air dry naturally, as high heat can increase wear and tear. Lay them flat, horizontally, so that air does not collect at the bottom. Alternatively, you can dry them vertically on a cloth to soak up the water that pools or suspend them in a way that lets the water drain. The important part is that water is not stuck in the straws with nowhere to go.
Before you store bamboo straws, make sure they are completely dry. Neglecting to let straws fully dry may soften the wood and shorten how long they last. Straws that do not dry completely may also take on a waterlogged smell. Fortunately, bamboo straws dry quickly, thanks to their smooth surface devoid of cracks for water to hide.
Do Bamboo Straws Mold?
Bamboo plants have natural antimicrobial properties, which make them resistant to rotting over time and less likely to harbor bacteria. High-quality straws that have been made correctly are also cleaned inside and out to deter mold.
However, keep in mind that bamboo is still a natural material. If you improperly store your straws in a humid environment or expose them to water for prolonged periods, mold may develop.
How Should You Store Bamboo Straws?
Bamboo straws are made with natural breathing materials and should be stored in a well-ventilated place. Never keep them in air-tight containers or jars. Appropriate spots to store bamboo straws include:
- Kitchen drawers
- A small, breathable cloth bag
- Your handbag will also suffice if you wish to use them outside the home!
How Long Will a Bamboo Straw Last?
In commercial environments, bamboo straws can last around 800-1000 usage cycles. At home, a quality bamboo straw can last you years. The life of a straw depends mostly on how well you take care of it.
Quick Care Tip: Make sure you wash and dry bamboo straws after every use to avoid gunk build-up. For unpolished straws, try polishing the outside with coconut oil every ten uses or so; this will help preserve their surface and make them last longer.
When to Replace a Bamboo Straw
There are three clear signs that it is time to replace a bamboo straw.
- If there is any significant discoloration
- A change in taste
- Splitting or fraying ends
Bamboo straws should always taste neutral and have a natural bamboo color. If boiling your straws does not remove the impurities, then you might not have taken attentive enough care of your straws. The alternative is that the production process contained chemicals—in which case you should replace them with fully natural, organic bamboo straws anyway!
How to Dispose of a Bamboo Straw
The best part about bamboo straws is that they are simply good for the Earth. As a biodegradable material, they decompose within 4-6 months. In contrast, plastic drinking straws can take up to 200 years to decompose. When the time comes to dispose of your straws, consider tossing them into the compost pile instead of a garbage bin.
Purchasing Bamboo Straws
Quality bamboo straws are easy to find and relatively inexpensive. Here are the top three brands, according to Amazon customer reviews:
- Jungle Straws are 8” organic straws that come with a cleaning brush and storage pouch. These straws are handcrafted and harvested by artisans in rural Vietnam. A pack of six straws contains both narrow and wide sizes that are dishwasher safe.
- Natural Neo 8” organic straws come with a coconut fiber brush and cloth bag. This set of 10 comes in assorted sizes and do not contain any inks, dyes, or bleach.
- Buluh Straws are organic straws with a cleaning brush and cotton bag. Buluh is a California-based company, but their bamboo is grown in Bali, Indonesia, and local artisans handcraft the straws. They advise against putting their straws in the dishwasher.
You may be wondering why you should even use bamboo straws when they do not have the convenience of plastic and certainly require more maintenance than metal. Well, if you are mindful of the environment, there is no question that bamboo straws are the way to go.
Bamboo poses no threat to the environment. In fact, the fast-growing bamboo plant is beneficial for our Earth. Not only do they quickly regenerate, making them sustainable for harvesting, but they also produce 35% more oxygen than trees and help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They also do not require any fertilizers or pesticides.
By investing in bamboo straws rather than the plastic alternative, you are supporting sustainable industries, as well as contributing to a healthier and greener planet at no cost to yourself. Just remember to wash, dry, and store your bamboo straws carefully, and you can enjoy all your delicious drinks while also helping the planet, one straw at a time.