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Reusable Straws

We tested stainless-steel, silicone, and bamboo straws to find the best one for sipping everything from water to iced coffee to smoothies.


Published June 22, 2020. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 22: Holiday Dessert and Salad

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What You Need To Know

The backlash against plastic straws has grown in recent years. In 2018, Seattle banned plastic straws, making it the first major city in the United States to do so. In 2019, Portland, Oregon, established a policy that would fine restaurants up to $500.00 if they gave plastic straws or cutlery to customers. And the European Union will ban many single-use plastics, including plastic straws, by 2021. Still, people enjoy drinking from straws, and for some it is an accessibility issue. 

Enter reusable straws, which can be made from a wide range of materials, including stainless steel, silicone, bamboo, and glass. As people have tried to curb their use of single-use plastics, reusable straws have increased in popularity, with more and more models hitting the market. So which reusable straw out of the ever-expanding list of options is the best? To find out, we tested 12 straws, priced from about $4.50 to about $30.00, and used them to drink ice water, iced coffee, and smoothies; we also evaluated how portable they were and how easy they were to clean. Five of the straws were made from stainless steel, six from silicone, and one from bamboo. We did not include glass straws because of the potential for shattering or chipping. We included only straws that fit in vessels with a 16-ounce capacity—the size of an average travel mug or to-go iced coffee cup.

Which Material Was Best?

We found big differences in usability depending on the material of the straw. The one bamboo straw we tested made anything we sipped through it taste woody. And while the outside of the straw was sanded down, the inside of the tip was not, so it felt scratchy when we sipped from it. 

As for the silicone straws we tested, their sturdiness varied, and this played a large role in their performance. Some of them were too floppy, especially when we tried to push them into a to-go cup. This was problematic: If we applied too much force, we risked splashing or tipping over the whole drink. We preferred models with thicker walls—0.88 to 1.42 millimeters—which made for sturdier straws. Our favorite silicone straw, which was one of the thickest silicone straws we tested, was thick enough to keep its shape when we drank from it yet thin enough that it didn’t feel too heavy in our mouths. 

The stainless-steel straws were the most durable of all the models we tested but were not ideal to drink from—we felt that we could easily chip a tooth on them. Some of the models got around this by adding silicone tips to straws, combining the durability of stainless steel and the comfort of silicone. We liked this design and preferred longer silicone tips—3 to 3.4 inches—...

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.
*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.
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