Since Seattle’s plastic straw ban has taken effect, an array of biodegradable straws has hit restaurants, bars and cafés — some decent and some that dissolve almost the instant they come in contact with liquid.
Fortunately, the market for reusable drinking straws has flourished as quickly as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Instead of accepting that flimsy paper straw, you can now bring your own.
We took a straw poll (ba-Dum-kssh!) to discover the pros and cons of eight types of reusable straws (all are available at amazon.com). Which ones are slurpable, and which ones just plain suck?
We tried: Hiware Reusable Silicone Drinking Straws ($8 for 8 with cleaning brushes).
Pros: They’re fat and squishy, which makes them good for straw-chewers and children. They’re good for smoothies and milkshakes. It “doesn’t change temperature” so you can use it with hot or cold drinks, and you can “control the flow by pinching the straw with your mouth.” It’s the “easiest to clean” and “feels good in the hand.”
Cons: “It lets too much liquid in with thinner drinks.” “Comically large and won’t fit through the iced-coffee lid.” And, because silicone attracts lint, “Wouldn’t it get real dirty in your pocket?”
Good for: Smoothies, bubble tea, children.
We tried: Rucacio Folding Drinking Straw ($17 for one with cleaning brush).
Pros: This transportable straw folds up into a keychain container. Testers praised its flexibility, and how it felt “nice on teeth.” It was the most portable option, and “I felt like Inspector Gadget using it.” The silicone nub on the end is “easy on the lips.”
Cons: It’s hard to clean. It consistently got stuck in plastic coffee lids and “won’t easily come out … without splattering.”
Good for: “Whatever you’re drinking when you want to impress your friends by whipping out your fancy James Bond straw.”
We tried: Yihong Stainless Steel Straws ($7 for 8 with cleaning brushes).
Pros: The straws conduct heat — bad with hot drinks, but nice with iced coffee. It “seems durable!”
Cons: The straws are long (“I feel like I’d poke myself in the eye”) and too narrow (“not good for smoothies”). Their length makes them hard to clean and, for those who are sensitive, “it smells and tastes like metal.” “I don’t like being burned while drinking hot coffee.” “I am sure I would chip a tooth or hurt myself on it.”
Good for: Iced coffee, juices
Extra-wide metal straws
We tried: Sungrace Reusable Stainless Steel Extra-Wide Smoothie Drinking Straws ($10 for 5 with cleaning brushes).
Pros: It’s great for bubble tea and people who like to slurp things up quickly. It “feels solid.” It’s “attractive looking.” And it’s easy to clean — “You can see if there’s anything stuck inside.”
Cons: It has that metal taste, again. “The straw looks and feels like something off an operating table or in a carpentry shop.” “It’s not going to break, but it might break your teeth.” And it’s definitely not meant for hot liquids.
Good for: Bubble teas and smoothies
Silicone-tipped metal straws
We tried: Alink 10.5-inch Long Reusable Straws ($8 for 8 with cleaning brushes).
Pros: The silicone tip “feels nicer on my teeth” and testers “like the bendy-ness.” If you don’t put the tip entirely over the metal, you can chew it, and it doesn’t get as hot as the regular metal straws.
Cons: “Ugh, taking off and cleaning that tip?” “Worried I would accidentally suck the silicone piece into my mouth.” “I don’t like not knowing when the liquid will hit my mouth.”
Good for: Thin, cold liquids — and, one tester notes, Big Gulps, because of the length.
We tried: Primal Ethic Reusable Bamboo Drinking Straws ($12 for 12 with cleaning brushes).
Pros: These are biodegradable, so they’re very environmentally friendly. They’re “light but sturdy.”
Cons: “It’s kind of like drinking through a colored pencil” because it has a woody taste. These are, by far, the hardest to clean of all the straws — we kept getting the brush stuck inside. They can’t go in the dishwasher. The hole is thin, so it doesn’t handle smoothies very well.
Good for: Just water — everything else is too hard to clean.
We tried: Korsreel Reusable Bent Glass Drinking Straws ($11 for 6 with cleaning brushes).
Pros: “They’re very stylish — would look good with a cocktail.” They have a neutral taste, and they “keep hot coffee warm without getting as hot as the metal.”
Cons: We dropped one on the floor from waist height to see what happened and — no surprises here! — it shattered. So it’s not the most portable option, especially for clumsy people.
Good for: Pretty much anything, “but only in a carpeted room.”
We tried: Alink Reusable Plastic Drinking Straws ($6 for 12 with cleaning brushes).
Pros: We’re embarrassed (because: more plastic!) to say that this was our favorite of the bunch. It works great with cold drinks and avoids the taste issues we had with the metal and bamboo straws, and the fragility of the glass. Because they’re semi-clear, they’re easy to clean — “You can see what you’re drinking, and if you missed a spot” — and the design is “lightweight and cute.”
Cons: It’s not as great with thick smoothies, but handles them well enough. “Sort of defeats the eco-friendly point, right?” They’re “stiff” and the design made one tester feel like she was at a kid’s birthday party.
Good for: Anything other than thick drinks.