As we become increasingly aware of the detrimental effects of single-use plastic on the environment, we’re always looking for ways to cut down. Single-use plastic drinking straws have been one of the main products in the firing line, with the government banning them completely as of 2019.
While some of us have stopped drinking from straws altogether, many people still like to use them, for reasons including dental hygiene and taste. If you’re someone who can’t live without straws, there are plenty of more eco-friendly alternatives to single-use plastic ones.
What types of reusable straws are available?
While lots of us are trying to cut down on plastic in general, reusable straws made from hard plastic are durable and can be recycled at the end of their lifespan. We tested silicone straws, but none of them made it into our review as we found them too flimsy.
Metal straws are strong and long-lasting, and sometimes conveniently collapsible. They often come with cleaning brushes and can be dishwaher safe. However, they can’t be used with hot drinks as they’re heat conductive.
Although they’re at risk of smashing, glass straws are generally sturdy and are a hygienic option, as you can see how clean the inside is. Bamboo straws are made from a highly sustainable material, but can deteriorate quickly.
You can find other alternatives to single-use plastic straws, which are better for the environment because they can be composted, but are still one-use as they deteriorate quickly. These, include straws made from wheat, paper and even pasta! We only tested straws which can be re-used multiple times.
Best reusable drinking straws for at home and on-the-go
We tested 20 straws from all categories to bring you the best reusable straws to buy. For more unbiased expert buyer’s guides, visit our reviews section to find 200+ round-ups on everything from the best reusable water bottles and reusable coffee cups to the best dishwashers and dishwasher tablets to buy.
The best plastic reusable straw
Joie rainbow reusable plastic drinking straws
We know the alarm bells might be ringing and yes these are made of plastic, the very thing we are trying to avoid, but hear us out… Not only do these straws have by far the best mouth-feel of all those we tested (in other words, they’re the right size, shape and feel in the mouth), they’re also incredibly durable.
How do we know? Because our managing editor Lulu uses them at home and has done for years. Despite not being labelled as dishwasher safe, Lulu frequently washes hers in the dishwasher and they’ve stood the test of time.
The different colours make them fun for parties (and avoids drinks getting mixed up). However, Lulu notes that at 23cm, they’re long, which could cause problems at children’s parties with small cups (they’d easily get knocked out), so are better for use in taller glasses.
With twenty in a packet for less than a fiver, they’re excellent value and can eventually be recycled.
The best metal reusable straws
There are a lot of metal straws on the market right now and you might be fooled into thinking that they’re all the same, but after testing several different brands, we found a surprising amount of variation.
These stainless-steel straws are our favourite for a number of reasons. For a start, the length of the straw (13.4cm) is just right – not too long, nor too short for your average glass – and the thickness is perfect too.
Our testing panel also liked the slight, but not drastic bend, and the slightly ridged surface at the point where the straw meets the glass, meaning it doesn’t slip around in the glass as much as others do.
The best bit? Not only do these come with their own cleaning brush, they’re also dishwasher safe, so feel like a hygienic option.
Weety stainless steel straws
If you’re looking for stainless steel reusable straws which can be taken out with you to pubs, clubs, bars or parties, then these are a good choice. They’re lightweight and come in a linen drawstring bag for easy transportation. The set includes four straws – two straight, two curved, depending on your preference – and a cleaning brush.
The best glass reusable straws
Kikkerland multicoloured reusable glass straws
Although the feeling of using a glass straw takes a little getting used to, we came around to these for a number of reasons. For a start, the coloured glass makes them look super chic, so they’d be great for a party (adults only though – glass straws at a children’s party is, of course, not a good idea).
Although marginally fatter in circumference than a standard straw, the length (20.3cm) feels right. The pack contains three straight and three curved straws, plus a cotton cleaning brush, plus they’re dishwasher safe. Overall, these are the most stylish option of those we tried and would look great in a cocktail!
The best collapsible reusable straws
The Last Straw stainless steel collapsible drinking straw
For a truly compact and portable reusable straw option, you can’t really beat this one. The stainless steel, retractable straw is just 8cm when not extended, and fits neatly inside its little case. The case is made from rust-proof aluminium, comes in a range of cool colours and has a keyring so you can attach it to your keys or bag, (hopefully) meaning you’ll never forget it.
There’s no faffing around to build and piece the straw back together, it simply extends up to 19cm (a pretty ideal straw length). A cleaning brush is included in the box, but the straw is also dishwasher safe and, at the end of its life, can be recycled.
However, although it seems to tick a lot of boxes, there’s no denying that the mouthfeel of this straw isn’t as good as others. Another downside is that, as with all metal straws, these can’t be used with hot drinks.
Asobu reusable flexible stainless steel and silicone straws
This set of two stainless steel straws comes with a silicone section, so you can bend them if you want to. The two metal parts, plus the silicone, can be pulled apart so that they pack down to fit into a silicone tube for easy transportation.
Our judges liked the mouthfeel of these straws and their ability to be bendy or straight, but thought the bendiness was extreme to the point of looking a bit silly. They come with a cleaning brush and are hand-wash only, which some might find inconvenient.
The best bamboo reusable straws
The main issue with bamboo straws is mouthfeel – they are often far too fat to feel comfortable. It’s for that reason that we liked these: although there is some variation in their sizes, on the whole, they’re much slimmer. Plus, they’re pleasantly smooth and very sturdy.
Made from 100 per cent organic bamboo from sustainably managed forests, they tick the eco-friendly box. They come in a drawstring bag in a set of six, with a cleaning brush. A dishwasher would deteriorate these quickly, so it’s recommended to wash them by hand in hot soapy water.
How we tested resuable straws
A panel of Good Food team members tested 20 different reusable straws made from plastic, silicone, bamboo, metal and glass. We tried several varieties of each material, using them to drink from varying glass sizes, and with different drinks.
What we looked for:
Arguably the most important factor of a straw is how it felt to drink from. We assessed thickness, smoothness and length. We also considered whether a straw affected the taste of a drink.
We wanted to feel that the straws were hygienic to reuse. We looked at whether the straws come with a cleaning brush and how effective it was, as well as the general cleaning instructions, for example are they hand-wash only or dishwasher safe.
While some only buy straws to use at home, others are looking for one they can take out with them to pubs, bars, clubs or parties. For this, we looked at how transportable the straws were – did they collapse or fold down for easy transporation? Did they come in their own pouch or case? (This would also make them more hygienic.)
You might assume that a reusable straw is a better option for the environment than a single-use plastic one, but what about when you eventually want to stop using it? For a straw to be truly sustainable, it should not only be made as sustainability as possible in the first place, but should also be able to be recycled or composted at the end of its life.
Reusable straw types: pros and cons
Hard plastic straws
Although we are all making an effort to reduce plastic in our lives, there are several pros of reusable straws made from hard plastic – they are extremely durable, don’t impart any ‘taste’ to the drink and have arguably the best mouthfeel. If you find a variety that’s dishwasher safe and can be recycled at the end of its life, then we think it’s one of the best choices.
The benefits of silicone straws are that they’re long-lasting and could be used for both hot and cold drinks. However, none of the silicone straws we tested made it into our review because we found them all to be too flimsy, floppy and rubbery – not qualities you want from a straw!
The main advantage of metal straws is their durability. Most are made from food-grade stainless steel, which means they are not as susceptible to rust as other metals and won’t break – so will last a really long time. They come close in thickness, length and general mouthfeel to standard straws, and some are usefully collapsible.
The most common gripes with metal straws are that they can impart a metallic taste on drinks, can clink against the teeth and, as metal is extremely heat conductive, you can’t use them with hot drinks. Plus, although many metal straws come with cleaning brushes and some are dishwasher safe, it’s harder to tell if they are cleaner than a glass or clear plastic straw.
The pros of glass straws are that they’re smooth and sturdy and don’t impart any sort of taste onto drinks. They also feel hygienic as you can clearly see when they’re dirty, inside and out, and clean them with a brush, warm soapy water or, in some cases, in the dishwasher.
Some glass straws are a little thicker than your average straw so can feel uncomfortable in the mouth, and they can also clink against the teeth when drinking (although you could argue that this can be the case when drinking from a glass too). Glass does heat up fairly quickly, so these wouldn’t be the best choice for hot drinks. Plus, there is always the risk that glass could smash, so would not be suitable for children.
Bamboo is thought to be a very sustainable material because it’s fast-growing and doesn’t require as much water as other crops to grow, nor does it require fertiliser or pesticides. As for the benefits of using bamboo to make straws, there are plenty.
For a start, they’re hardy and can be reused and washed plenty of times, but the best part is that, when you do finally want to get rid of them, they’re biodegradable. Plus, bamboo doesn’t transfer heat as much as metal or glass straws, so they can be used for hot and cold drinks.
The problem with bamboo is that, as it’s a natural material, the sizes of bamboo straws can vary, with many being too fat to be comfortable. Some users also complain of a slightly woody taste, and they don’t last as long as metal or plastic ones as they deteriorate after prolonged use.
How to clean reusable straws
The easiest reusable straws to clean are those that come with a special brush or are suitable for use in a dishwasher. Brushes can be bought separately, alternatively a pipe cleaner can be used.
Wash in very hot water with soap, drain upright and dry thoroughly before storing. If you haven’t washed your straws and they have dried-on bits inside them then soak them first and then wash as before.
More on sustainability
10 tips for reducing your plastic waste
Reduce, reuse and recycle your plastic packaging
How to reduce food packaging waste
What biodegradable really means
8 ways to be a better recycler
Sustainability hub page
This review was last updated in March 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at email@example.com.