Seeing my two nieces slurp on their chocolate drink every morning using plastic straws was painful to watch, so I gave them a pair of bamboo straws.
Why use plastic straws when you have several reusable alternatives? The planet needs us, and using a few reusable items is the least we can do to protect it.
Bamboo is an excellent alternative to plastic straws, and also more eco-friendly because of the highly sustainable nature of the bamboo plant.
However, can you wash them in the dishwasher like you would with other straws?
Let’s quickly answer that question.
Are Bamboo Straws Dishwasher Safe?
Not all bamboo items are equal, and the same goes for bamboo straws.
Whether you can put bamboo straws in the dishwasher will depend on how they’re made.
If you want to put your bamboo straws in the dishwasher, make sure they have no glue and/or lacquer.
Some manufacturers apply glue and pressure to bind bamboo items together, which may come undone because of the high temperature and detergents in the dishwasher.
Some also coat bamboo items with lacquer, which can also come off in the dishwasher.
If you want a safe dishwasher option, get 100% natural bamboo straws.
To make natural bamboo straws, manufacturers cut the stem, thoroughly hollowed, then wash and dry it to become the end product. There is no glue or coating.
Some manufacturers recommended not putting bamboo straws in the dishwasher, regardless of the build, because the scalding water in the dishwasher overdries the bamboo, shortening its life span.
However, if you put your bamboo straws in the dishwasher, don’t forget to treat them with food safe mineral oil to help it retain moisture and prevent over-drying and cracking. This will help them last longer.
Finding Natural Bamboo Straws
Natural bamboo straws are easy to find, especially if you look for them online.
However, if you want to find natural bamboo straws in a retail store near you, look for information regarding the materials used in production.
Make sure they don’t contain any man-made properties like plastic or petroleum-based chemicals and make sure that the bamboo straws you’re purchasing are actually reusable.
For some non-reusable bamboo utensils, manufacturers may use a binding agent called melamine-formaldehyde resin, a plastic which, if it is of poor quality, release toxic compounds that harm the kidneys and are carcinogenic.
Choose reusable natural bamboo items purely made of bamboo and nothing else.
Here are a few natural bamboo straws I’d like to recommend for you:
BamBaw Reusable Bamboo Straws
To be frank, these were one of the two legitimate reusable bamboo straws I found online.
According to the manufacturer, they’re 100% organic, reusable, and dishwasher safe.
However, I’d wash them by hand and avoid the dishwasher to increase their duration.
Because they’re 100% organic, they’re also biodegradable and you can use them as a material for compost.
If you look at the image, you can see that none of the straws are equally shaped, which shows that they are handmade — exactly how organic bamboo straws should look like.
If you want these natural bamboo straws, you can get them on Amazon.
Ibambo Natural Bamboo Straws
These natural bamboo straws are like the previous bamboo straws, but the only difference is that they come in a pack of 10 instead of 12, and they are a few dollars more affordable.
Ibambo straws are BPA-free, and also have no dyes, inks or petroleum-based chemicals.
The manufacturer also points out that the straws are biodegradable, so you can also throw them in a compost pile to decompose.
You can also find them available on Amazon.
How Long do Natural Bamboo Straws Last?
Natural bamboo straws should last a whole year, but it also depends on how you maintain it.
If you usually just throw them in the dishwasher and don’t take care of them by drying them properly, oiling them up with mineral oil, or even smooth them with sandpaper, you cut their life span in half.
Most people don’t work to maintain their bamboo straws, so they commonly last between 4 to 6 months.
How to Maintain Bamboo Straws
If you’re like me and like to take good care of your belongings, or you’re just cheap and don’t want to buy over one bamboo straw per year — attempt to maintain them.
It’s simple, it doesn’t take long, and you only have to memorize the following tips.
Clean them with lukewarm water
Soak the bamboo straws in lukewarm soapy water for one minute and clean them thoroughly.
Wipe them dry with a cotton cloth and wrap them in cloth, or paper before storing them away.
Do this immediately after use.
Note: The reason I don’t like to leave the bamboo straws in the sink or the dishwasher is because long exposure to hot water and heat can warp or crack it. Washing and drying them manually is the way to go.
Store them in a dry area
Exposing bamboo straws to direct sunlight can make them discolored or warp their surface.
Always store the bamboo straws in a dark and dry place that is well ventilated to preserve its nice color.
Oil them with food-grade mineral oil
Put a bit of food-grade mineral oil on a saucepan, and heat it on the stove. You don’t need it hot – just warm enough to infiltrate the pores of the bamboo.
Pour a little of it on a clean cloth and rub the bamboo straws thoroughly.
The mineral oil will hydrate the bamboo, giving it some necessary moisture but leaving excess water out. It will also prevent the bamboo from getting too dry to a point where it might crack.
Clean them with lime juice or baking soda
If the bamboo straws develop weird stains or smells, use lime juice or baking soda.
Sprinkle some juice or powder on them and scrub them with a warm rag to keep them smelling clean and looking fresh for the next time you or your children use them.
Smoothen with sandpaper
If you find the straws splinting, you can throw them away, but if you still want to maintain them around for longer, you can use sandpaper to smooth them out.
Having some grit paper around is affordable, and it’s a quick fix to help your straws last longer.
When to dispose of Bamboo Straws?
Even though the tips I’ve shared with you will help your bamboo straws last longer, it doesn’t mean they will last forever. In short, you shouldn’t keep them if you can’t reuse them.
If the straws develop a crack or the surface gets flaked, I think it’s time to replace them.
There is a risk of running into digestive issues by mistakenly ingesting bamboo splints, and you want to avoid that at all costs — especially for your children.
Replace your bamboo straws every six months or one year depending on their state. If they’re too worn out, just replace them and recycle them in your local composting facility (or in your compost pile at home).
Manufacturers suggest that natural bamboo straws are dishwasher safe, but the scalding water mixed with the detergents may eventually warp or crack the bamboo.
For that reason, I prefer manually washing and drying the straws because I know they will last longer.
However, if you wish to wash your natural bamboo straws in the dishwasher, you can also do so as it doesn’t represent any harm to your health. Just make sure that the bamboo straws you’re using are 100% natural.
Bamboo Straws FAQs
Can you use bamboo straws for hot drinks?
Yes, you can use natural bamboo straws for hot drinks. Drinking from a natural bamboo straw eliminates the potential for chemical ingestion and makes slurping hot drinks through a straw much safer deed.
Do bamboo straws get moldy?
Yes, it’s possible for bamboo straws to develop mold if you leave them exposed to moisture for long periods of time. However, if you are careful enough to dry them immediately after washing them, you won’t run into any issues like mold accumulation.
Do bamboo straws last?
Yes, with the proper care, bamboo straws can last up to a year and potentially more. Like I said, you just have to make sure you wash and dry it properly to avoid issues like mold and cracks.
Are bamboo straws hygienic?
Natural bamboo straws are totally hygienic — they’re crafted from a plant that contains powerful antibacterial properties, which is the reason they grow so rapidly in nature.