I have a plastic cup from a company I used to work at. I like this cup and it's very convenient for me to be able to drink water with the straw, so I use this very often. However, after longtime use, the tip of the straw on the inside has become dirty.

Does anyone have any tips on how to clean the inside of this straw? A typical cleaning sponge doesn't work since it's too fat. I'd like to be able to use some common household items, if possible.

  • 8
    Dunno about "straw cleaners", but pipe cleaners were used (and named) as a cleaning brush for long narrow tubes (e.g. pipes) well before they were popularized as a crafting material for kids.
    – goldPseudo
    Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 20:55
  • 1
    Why can't you replce it? Straws are literally a dime a dozen (or cheaper)? Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 3:23
  • 2
    With cups with plastic straws like that, they have flared ends to stop the straw coming out, and they are hard plastic straws. You don't just "buy another" or "snip it off" - it's not a reusable straw.
    – user7174
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 19:16
  • 2
    @Oxinabox It looks like the type of straw that is secured in to the lid.You can see a more prominant image here. g01.s.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1GXXkFVXXXXa9XpXXq6xXFXXXG/221375967/…
    – Terry
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 20:26

24 Answers 24


Your best option is to use a pipe cleaner. Add some dish soap to the pipe cleaner. I like to dip the pipe cleaner in a bottle of soap, but you can pour soap on it. Now just push the pipe cleaner through the straw and rinse it with water.

If you have a straw that has too wide of a diameter for on pipe cleaner, you can braid 2 or 3 together to make it wider.

  • 1
    Try focusing you search on cleaning brushes for lab equipment, you might be able to find specific shapes/sizes for your needs.
    – Carl
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 4:57

Use denture cleaners. These create foams that smell clean and clean deep within the straw.

enter image description here Also, use long Q tips. These may push the dirt further in some cases, so also use with soapy water and water pressure helps to.

Additional Info

Straw cleaners.


Espresso machine! Heat up some steam and as long as your re-usable straw is relatively thick, slap it up against the steam shoot for a few seconds per side. Finally, run water through it. Presto! A clean and sanitized straw. I do this all the time.

  • Might heat break down or deform a plastic straw? Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 12:41
  • If the microbes have built up a biofilm (slimy covering), then this might not be enough to dislodge and kill them. Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 18:55

I would just hold the straw in a vertical position with one of my fingers covering the bottom of the straw. Pour some soap into the top of the straw. Then pour some warm water into the top of the straw.

At this point you can just keep the water running for a while and then eventually remove your finger from the bottom of the straw and rinse the straw out. Or you could cover the top end as well with another finger and then shake the straw all about letting the water hit the edges of the inside straw over and over again. And then rinse it out.

If you want to make sure it gets clean as possible, then you could just repeat the above steps a few times.


An adaptation to a couple of methods already mentioned that involves shoving something down the straw to try and get rid of any dirt.

  • You could use an ear cleaner (Q-Tip) - preferably a clean one. Get it wet and add a little bit of soap and that should be quite nifty.
  • Dental floss - if you feed a length of this down the straw and keep tight and wiggle the straw around, this should have good cleaning potential (after all, people clean their teeth with this stuff)
    Alternatives to dental floss:
    • String
    • Elastic band
    • A chain (like a necklace)
    • A shoelace - a clean one (would, I think, be the most effective as it'll be a similar width to the straw so be nice and tight to the edges)
  • Buy a new one.

Get yourself some bottle cleaners for the natural flow bottles, they are perfect for cleaning straws for plastic cups! Our 4 year old has a few of the toddler size cups with these plastic straws and we use the natural flow cleaner brushes to clean her straws (and out three month old daughters bottles too!). They are inexpensive, and last a long time compared to having to use a new long q-tip every time you wash the straw.

You can pick these up everywhere that has a baby section, WalMart, Walgreens, CVS, Toys R Us, etc.

Natural Flow Bottle Cleaners


Found these on Amazon. Bought some to clean out the drink straws on reusable water bottles.

Drink Straw Cleaning Brush - set of 4 Stainless Steel brushes for drinking straws, Tumblers, sippy Cups and more! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K4QBYQY/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_-Ki2vb38NNEKK

Cheap and should last a long time. Useful for cleaning out other tiny hard to reach places.


I would put the straw in a container that would allow it to be completely submerged with water. Fill it up, then add a denture tablet or two. Wait. When it comes out, it should be clean and smell minty. Repeat as needed.

You could also try submerging in a tub of white vinegar.


I put a thin tissue paper in the waterbottle straw and then pushed the tissue with the other plastic straw ,could not believe how much dirt came on the tissue ,did it three times ,my waterbottle straw is clean as.


Now for some truly out of the box thinking with my newly devised straw cleaning apparatus.

Equipment needed:

  • Dirty straw (otherwise this whole thing is not needed...)
  • A couple of balloons (water balloons preferably, and small ones!)
  • Elastic band / hair band / string
  • Water
  • Soap (liquid variety)
  • Optional - Sand or other coarse grained thing (for abrasiveness to get off stubborn dirt)

What you'll need to do:

  1. Fill one water balloon with some water and some soap (enough to easily be able to squeeze the water out) and the sand if you so choose
  2. Place straw into filled balloon and tie with elastic band / string / whatever to stop it coming off
  3. Place other balloon at the other end of the straw and tie off as well
  4. Squeeze the filled balloon and the water should race through the straw to the other balloon
  5. Repeat a few times - the sand would aid in removing some stuck bits of grime (which FYI is absolutely grim so just buy a new straw you weirdo)
  6. Remove balloons and put straw under some running water so that it can clean out any left over soap / sand
  7. Done.

As I said - this required a little out of the box thinking and may be more effort than it is worth, but it would be fun to see if it is effective!



The number of people suggesting that you just buy new straws is appalling. The point of reusable straws is to keep those cheap, plastic disposable straws out of the landfills. Say yes to the pipe cleaners and yes to tiny bottle cleaners. Some reusable straws come with mini bottle cleaners (sized for the straw). You want a hack? Cut a dish cloth into thin strips so you can stick it all the way through the straw.

  • 1
    This adds nothing to the existing answers.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 17:42

I cut a wire coat hanger with some wire cutters (make sure it's longer then you straw) and cut up an old tee into tiny squares. Stick the cloth at the end of the hanger and plunge through and throw out cloth when done.


I was reading all the replies on here, until I found a solution on my own. What worked for me was just a simple, really thin fan artist brush. I had it in my brush collection, but I had not used it for painting yet, so it was clean.

Dishwasher soap and water were needed of course, too.


First take a bamboo stick if it can easily pass through the pipe or find a iron or steel wire that can go into the pipe. Find an old fabric which has lint on its surface. Now make a long strip of this fabric and wrap it around the stick or wire in a diagonal wrapping fashion. Wrap it tight, your scrubber is ready. Now dip the wrapped stick in soap added water for some time. Now use this scrubber to wash your straw. Move the scrubber in and out of the straw to clean it as required.


Put a q-tip in the straw with water, the blow the q-tip out through the other side.

  • Welcome! I fail to see how the q tip will go all the way through. Could you add some details detailing how this would happen? Thank you and I hope to see you around :)
    – Pobrecita
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 14:19

I have similar cups and straws. I just take it all apart and put it in a dishwasher.


I have a Water Pick for cleaning my teeth. You can use it with either just water, or water with mouthwash. If you use mouthwash in it, and put it on the most powerful setting, or the "pulse" setting, it is great for cleaning straws (rinse through a few times with pain hot water afterwards, to avoid a lingering mouthwash aroma)


Straw Squeegees works best for cleaning straws in my experience. Especially after drinking smoothies.

This is the brand that makes them: https://softystraws.com

enter image description here


If you could dip the straw in bleach and let it sit, it would get rid of the dirt. Q-tips with soap or paperclips with tiny piece of cloth might also work.


I fill my tall stainless coffee mug with a little soap, vinegar and boiling water, turning over a couple of times. Break a pair of chopsticks you get with Japanese take out food. Use 1/2 of the chopstick to run into the straw. push in and pull out several times, rinsing the chop stick. Then do the same from the other end, rinse the straws and the chop stick once more in clean water and air dry.


I started with CRABOLO's solution - the finger on the hole and filling it with soap and water, but then I tore up a paper towel and tore it into little tiny pieces and wadded them up and shoved them into the straw, then I just blew them all out again. Rinsed it again with water, then washed the outside.

That worked to get the taste out of my straw after I put soda into my water cup.


I put dish soap on wet Q-Tip, push through with wooden skewer.

  • 1
    Welcome to Lifehacks! Can you expand your answer with a further explanation and/or a picture? That would be really helpful. Thank you!
    – Mooseman
    Commented May 19, 2016 at 21:55

As this is Lifehacks and you are looking for "alternatives", I suggest that while pipecleaners and other similarly suggested tools are great ideas, the cost of said tools, soap, warm water, and your time would surely outweigh bar far just buying a pack of new straws.

Cost of soap and cleaners etc is not a massive amount at all, but your time is precious.

I see you are in San Francisco, and as an example, I notice there (seems to be) 3 Walmarts there.

50 straws for $0.99 at Walmart


I estimate you should be able to use the same straw for about a week (depending on what you drink, how much you drink, and if you rinse it out daily etc).

Per Year: $0.99, 30 mins(?) to go to the store.

(prices are very approx for demonstration purposes only)

  1. Soap - $1 per year
  2. Warm water (gas/electricity cost to heat water) $2 per year
  3. Pipe cleaners (or similar alternative) $2 per year
  4. Your time - $priceless really, but say 15 mins a week (by the time you get the cleaners, soap, warm water etc)

Per Year: $5 per year and 13 hours of your time - that's nearly 2 full days work!

  • 3
    The straw is a specialised shape so they don't fall out of the cups.
    – Terry
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 20:18
  • @Terry - Can they not be purchased? My point is, if they're not expensive, you save so much of your time and effort.
    – James
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 1:32

As you say it is just the tip of the straw - snip it off.

I am sure you'll have plenty of straw length to keep you happy and the dirt end will be gone!

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