Hacks to Keep Straw Cup Clean
Straw cups are manufactured with many different designs, but a common purpose: to keep liquids inside the cup and prevent spills.
This is accomplished most commonly with a design that includes the main cup, a spout, and some sort of leak-proof valve.
While this ingenious engineering solves one problem, it creates another. The straw cups have small parts and hard-to-reach corners that can easily trap particles of liquid and harbor harmful moisture, creating a perfect place for mold to grow. The most common place you will find mold is in the spout, valve, or straw since they are the most difficult areas to clean thoroughly.
What Should You Know About Mold?
Mold is a fungus which grows from tiny, microscopic spores. Mold spores are all around us and relatively harmless in the small amounts we live with on a daily basis.
Mold inhalation causes the symptoms we typically associate with mold exposure: coughing, wheezing, asthma, nasal drainage, or other respiratory illnesses.
What If My Child Ingests Mold?
If you find that your child has used a straw cup with mold or mildew, don’t panic. Not all molds are toxic, and not all children will react to mold.
However, going forward, try to be vigilant about cleaning your child’s cups properly to reduce their chances of mold exposure, as some are indeed toxic and can have harmful effects on health.
Some symptoms children may experience after ingesting mold are:
- Abdominal cramps.
Cleaning A Straw Cup
1. Rinse Immediately After Use
Even if you don’t plan to wash your child’s cup right away, it’s a good idea to rinse it immediately. This removes some of the milk/juice particles, leaving less food residue in the cup for mold spores to eat and grow.
2. Completely Disassemble Straw Cup
When you’re ready to wash your child’s straw cup, make sure you disassemble every part. Remove the straw in it. Typically inside the lid, there is a rubber stopper or other mechanism; remove this from the cup as well as any rubber rings around the edge to prevent leaks.
3. Soak In Hot Water And Soap
Make sure that the water is deep enough to submerge your straw cups and accessories fully. Soak them for 15 minutes in hot, soapy water; this will soften dried-on or stubborn gunk, allowing you to clean it off easily.
4. Clean Your Cups
Avoid using a sponge as they have been shown to harbor bacteria. Use a clean dishrag instead for the insides of the straw cups.
Wash the lid of the straw cup. Carefully inspect and wash all of the crevices to ensure there are no remaining food particles or mold.
Pro Tip: You can use a toothpick, q-tip, pipe cleaner to get into the tiny, difficult-to-clean spaces in the lids or valves.
5. Sanitize Your Cups (Optional)
While not completely necessary, occasionally sanitizing your sippy cups can contribute to your peace of mind. You can do this using the same steps for sanitizing baby bottles. Here are three quick options:
- Sanitize With Bleach: Mix 2 teaspoons of bleach with a gallon of water. Allow cups to soak for two minutes, then drip dry.
- Sanitize With a Steam Sterilizer: Made for the microwave or are available as a counter-top accessory. They emit high-temperature steam which will kill bacteria and mold spores.
- Boil Your Cups: Place your straw cups and accessories into a pot of boiling water. Allow boiling for 10 minutes.
- Use a Waterless Sterilizer: This is the latest technology which is easiest for parents to choose, Coby UV Sterilizer.
- Use a disinfectant: Disinfectant spray and cleanser help to sterilize straw cups after cleaned, see B&B Disinfectant Spray & B&B Feeding Bottle Cleanser
6. Dry Cups Thoroughly
Never re-assemble or put away cups while they still have moisture. Moisture is one of the core components of mold growth, and if you re-assemble your cups before they’re dry, that moisture can become trapped in small spaces and encourage mold growth. So, allow your straw cups to sit in a drying rack for good air flow.
Never dry straw cups on a towel as fabrics can harbor bacteria.
7. Throw Away Stained Cups
If you have a particularly moldy cup that continues to have a stain after a thorough washing, it’s better to be safe than sorry – toss it in the trash. While there may not be live mold spores still present, it’s impossible to tell for sure. Consider switching to new sippy cups every three months to prevent mold growth.