How to Clean Reusable Straws and Water Bottles

metal straws and water bottle in the background

​The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Reducing the amount of disposable plastic we use each day is good for the environment and can be helpful for our budgets. Reusable water bottles have become a nearly must-have accessory and reusable straws are gaining in popularity. The one thing they don't offer is the convenience of use and toss disposable plastics.

Reusable straws are made from glass, stainless steel, silicone, bamboo, or reed. The straws come in various sizes to accommodate chunky smoothies to clear liquids; some are straight, some collapse, and others have a bend that can be more troublesome to keep clean. Most come in cases or pouches to tuck in a purse or backpack. Many water bottles can go right into the dishwasher (always check manufacturer's instructions). Even if the bottle is only used for water, it can still harbor dangerous bacteria in trapped moisture if not cleaned.

How Often to Clean Reusable Bottles and Straws

Optimally, reusable bottles and straws should be washed after every use, even those like the Monos Kiyo UVC Bottle that purifies water. If not daily, bottles should be washed every couple of days, but at the very least, take the lid off between uses so the bottle can breathe and dry out. Water bottles and straws should be sanitized weekly. The straw's pouch or case should be cleaned at least weekly.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Straw brush or chenille stems
  • Bottle brush
  • Sink or dishpan
  • Dish drainer

Materials

  • Hot water
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Distilled white vinegar (optional)
  • Baking soda (optional)
  • Disinfectant wipe (optional)

Instructions

How to Clean Reusable Straws

Items to clean a reusable straw
​The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  1. Mix a Cleaning Solution

    Mix a few squirts of dishwashing liquid with hot water in a sink or dishpan to create a cleaning solution for the straws.

    squirting dish soap into a sink filled with warm water
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Warning

    While some straws are labeled as dishwasher safe, they still need some hands-on attention before you put them upright in the silverware basket. The water from the dishwasher cannot always reach every interior surface, especially in straws with a bend.

  2. Insert the Straw Brush

    Dip a narrow straw brush or pipe cleaner (or chenille stem) in the cleaning solution, insert it in the straw, and pass it through the entire length of the straw.

    Make a Bigger Brush

    The pipe cleaner should be thick enough so that it touches all sides of the interior of the straw. If it doesn't, twist several together to create a thicker "brush."

    inserting the straw brush into the metal straw
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  3. Remove Stubborn Particles

    If you can still see bits of smoothie fruit clinging to the inside of the straw, dip the wet brush or pipe cleaners in some baking soda and try again. Baking soda is a gentle abrasive that will help remove stuck-on food.

    straw cleaning brush dipped in baking soda
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  4. Rinse and Dry

    Finish by rinsing the straw in hot water and allow it to dry upright in a clean glass or dish drainer.

    rinsing off the cleaned straw
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  5. Clean the Straw Case or Pouch

    The straw's case or pouch needs to be cleaned as well. The case traps the bacteria and moisture in a dark, warm place making the case the perfect breeding ground for germs and even mold. Every week, toss the straw's pouch in the washer. Wash a hard case in hot soapy water or wipe down the inside of the case with a disinfecting wipe.

    putting the straw away in its pouch
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

How to Clean Water Bottles

items to clean a water bottle
​The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  1. Mix a Cleaning Solution

    In a sink or dishpan, mix hot water and a few squirts of dishwashing liquid to create a cleaning solution.

    mixing a cleaning solution
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  2. Wash the Bottle

    Whether you have a glass, stainless steel, or hard plastic bottle, the clean-up is the same. Use a bottle brush and hot, soapy water to reach every interior surface. Pay particular attention to the neck of the bottle. The hot water and dishwashing liquid will help remove oils and grime accumulated from your hands from the exterior as well.

    If you have a bottle with a straw or pop-up sports cap, these also need extra attention. Run a small bottle brush or pipe cleaner through the straw to thoroughly clean the interior.

    using a bottle brush to clean inside the water bottle
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  3. Rinse and Dry

    Rinse all components well with warm water and allow them to air-dry in a dish drainer.

    water bottle drying
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  4. Sanitize the Bottle Weekly

    Hot water and soap won't kill every type of bacteria. Once a week, you should disinfect the bottles and straws with chlorine bleach or distilled white vinegar to remove all bacteria and fungi spores.

    To use chlorine bleach, fill a clean sink or dishpan with one gallon of hot water. Add one tablespoon of chlorine bleach. Add the bottles and lids to the solution and let them sit for five to 15 minutes. Rinse with hot water and allow to air dry.

    If you don't like to use bleach, mix a solution of two tablespoons distilled white vinegar per one cup of hot water. Make enough to fill the water bottle and some extra to soak lids. Fill the bottle and let it sit for 15 minutes. Empty and rinse well with hot water and allow to air dry.

    a weekly regimen to sanitize the water bottle
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Tips to Keep Your Reusable Straws and Water Bottles Clean Longer

  • When you finish with a reusable straw while you're on-the-go, the best thing you can do is give it a "rinse" by sipping some plain water or holding it under a running water faucet. It will still need thorough cleaning when you get home.
  • A stainless steel, glass, or silicone straw can be cleaned by boiling it in water for 10 minutes. Let the straw cool down before use.
  • If you're pinched for time and can't find a brush, use dental floss to clean a reusable flexible straw. Fish floss through the straw, submerge it in soapy water, and use your fingers to pinch and rub the straw and floss together while it soaks to dislodge dirt.
Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Laurie Messing, How to Keep Your Water Bottle Germ-Free. Michigan State University Extension, 19 Nov. 2018