People who make smoothies on the regular are well acquainted with the genius invention that is the reusable straw. Sure, you can’t chew on them like the soft plastic ones at the $10-a-pop juice shop in your neighborhood, but reusable metal straws have so many more advantages. Unlike one-use plastic versions, metal straws reduce waste and can’t be punctured, causing the dreaded aimless vacuum-sucking fail. Plus, as cool as you feel you look unscrewing the top of your mason jar breakfast on the street, a metal straw will save you from spilling a blueberry and vanilla protein powder shake all over your face before that 9 am meeting. 

For all the joys metal straws bring, unfortunately reusable items must be washed. Not rinsed, mind you—washed. It seems like a tall order, but if you’re prepared, it’s actually quite simple to clean your metal straws with the help of pipe cleaners. This method also works for hard plastic, bamboo, or glass straws. Of course, you could buy straw cleaners online, but hey, DIY-ing is just sometimes more rewarding.

If you drink from a metal straw and then quickly do your dishes, it’s likely that you can simply hold the straw under hot water, give it a good rinse, and then wash it with soapy water. However, if you use a straw on the go, you’re probably not planning to wash it for hours, giving the smoothie bits stuck in the straw plenty of time to solidify in your straw. The crusty masses of blended fruit and vegetables stuck inside a teeny tube seems daunting, but the problem can easily be addressed. Like their name suggests, pipe cleaners work wonders at washing inside skinny tubes.

Depending on how thick the straw is, you’ll need anywhere from 1 to 4 straws to successfully wipe the interior. Stick the end of a pipe cleaner into the tip of your straw to see if it touches the edges of the straw. If 1 doesn’t seem big enough, twist another pipe cleaner around the first and test again. Reusable metal, glass, and bamboo straws can typically be cleaned with 1 to 3 pipe cleaners, while some plastic straws tend to run larger.

Rinse the straw as best as you can under hot water, then wet the pipe cleaner. Rub a bit of dish soap onto the pipe cleaner until it gets sudsy, then push it back and forth through the straw to remove smoothie debris. Once you feel the inside is sufficiently scraped, wash the rest of the straw with soap and water.