4 Things To Consider When Choosing a Reusable Straw

Reusable Nation - different reusable straws.jpg

You would think getting a reusable straw would be simple, but it is not. There is not just one standard reusable straw. There are options; many options and they can be confusing.

I had to buy a few before I landed on the right one for each of us, so to help you buy the right one right away, here’s our guide to not sucking at getting a reusable straw you’ll actually use.

And, yes, a lot of the time you can just refuse a straw and drink the drink without a straw, but that’s not always the case. There's no way I’m giving up milkshakes and smoothies and I’m tired of mixing homemade-style lemonades with my knife or finger.

1. Different materials

Your choices are steel, glass or bamboo. All of them work as well as each other, they are all eco-friendlier and healthier options (no toxic plastic) than plastic straws and they are all popular for different reasons.

Whether you would rather suck on glass or steel is up to you, these two options are otherwise mostly the same, other than steel probably being a better bet around children as it’s harder to break and the fact that steel straws can become very hot or very cold when used in very hot or very cold drinks.

Glass straws can go in the dishwasher and most steel straws are dishwasher safe (check your specific brand), but using a cleaning brush to clean them after use is recommended. Bamboo straws should be cleaned using a cleaning brush and they should not be used for or placed in hot liquids.

Some bamboo straws can be uncomfortable to use and have that wooden taste, but good quality ones are smooth and taste fine. Good quality bamboo straws will also last longer.

How long do bamboo straws last? It depends on how well they are looked after, but they usually last at least 6 months and can last years and they can be composted when they are no longer usable.

You can find and research all these options on The Clean CollectiveBiome, Flora & Fauna (all AU), and Life Without Plastic (US/CAN). A search on Etsy also reveals a lot of reusable straw alternatives.

2. Different widths

This is where I went wrong. I have one that is a little too small in diameter for a regular straw and one that is a little too large in diameter to comfortably suck a thick milkshake up through.

The width you’ll need depends on what you’ll be using it for, so think about what you need the straw for and will use it for before buying one - you might find you don’t need one at all!

Do you drink milkshakes or smoothies? How about bubble tea? Are you obsessed with it? You get extremely wide straws that are designed specifically for bubble tea (you even get whole bubble tea kits)!

A regular straw is around 9 to 9.5 mm in diameter and a smoothie or milkshake straw is usually around 12 mm in diameter. Use that as a guide when getting your straw to ensure optimum liquid achievement with minimal sucking strength required. Science!

3. Different lengths

Not only different widths, they also come in different lengths. A standard straw that is usually provided with drinks at restaurants is about 210 mm or 8 inches and you can get reusable straws in this standard size, which I would recommend as it would be the most useful, as well as shorter or longer than this if preferred.

4. Straight or with a bend?

Some people prefer drinking out of straws that are straight and some prefer ones that are bent, so this is up to you and what you prefer, however the straight versions are much easier to clean with a cleaning brush.

5. Teeth sensitivity and strength

If you’re worried about your teeth getting chipped or have weak teeth that could get damaged, you can get straws that take this into consideration.

You won’t break a glass straw by biting it, but if you have a habit of chewing on a straw, doing this with a glass straw can seriously harm your teeth. Some people choose bamboo or silicone reusable straws over glass or steel straws for this reason.

Some steel straws do have devices to prevent tooth damage, for example this ‘safety’ or ‘scatchproof’ straw has a rounded lip on one end, which stops the end of the metal straw from scratching your lip or harming your teeth (and it's a gorgeous rose gold), and you can get steel straws with silicone tips.

Don't make these mistakes

When buying online also check that it is sent unpackaged – nothing quite as depressing as getting a bunch of reusable straws that are all in their own individual plastic bag.

And, when you have your perfect-for-you straw, you’ll also want to make sure that you have something to clean it with and wrap it up in after use. I soon realised this after leftover lime milkshake hiding inside my steel straw leaked all over the inside of the drawstring bag I had put it in.

You can buy solid casings to keep it in and then clean them both when you get home, or rinse it in some water or at least wipe the outside with your fabric napkin and flick it a few times on some grass or somewhere before wrapping it in the napkin and putting it back into any fabric pouches. Learn from my mistakes!


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