How To: 9 Drinking Straw Hacks That Don't Suck

9 Drinking Straw Hacks That Don't Suck

The drinking straw isn't just there to help you make annoying noises when you get to the bottom of your soda. That little tube of plastic is extremely versatile and can make your life a lot easier with a little know-how. Curious? Read on to find out more.

Bendy or straight, the drinking straw can be surprisingly useful even outside of a drink. Image via Shutterstock

1. Unclog Stubborn Ketchup

We all have our own method for getting stopped-up ketchup to flow, whether it's tapping the bottle neck or shaking it furiously and then upending it. However, there's a foolproof way to get your stuck sauce on the move again without risking a mess: a common drinking straw.

Just insert a drinking straw into your bottle of ketchup until it reaches the bottom, then remove it. The straw's shape will break up the clogged sauce and insert air into the sauce so it can be on the move.

Real Simple recommends that you gently shake the bottle from side to side to loosen the ketchup and then pour out the condiment with the straw still inside. Both methods work—it's your call as to which you prefer.

I've also used a single chopstick to stir up the ketchup and coax it out if I don't have a straw handy.

2. Vacuum Seal Stuff Better

Getting the air all the way out of a plastic bag is a great way to keep the food inside fresh since it won't oxidize as rapidly. You don't need to buy a vacuum sealer to make this happen: a zipper-top plastic bag, a straw, and a good pair of lungs are all you need to make this happen.

First, put your food in the plastic bag and then insert the straw. Seal the zipper around the straw, then suck out as much air as you can without feeling light-headed. Slip out the straw real quick-like and snap the zipper completely closed.

This is especially great to do before you freeze or refrigerate food to keep it fresh longer. Image via Traveling Lighter

Do remember to be careful if you're vacuum sealing food that's juicy or has small particles so you don't inhale anything you don't want to.

Alternatively, if you don't have a straw, you can use a warm water bath to get most, but not all, of the air out of the plastic bag. Check out Tip # 3 in our guide to DIY sous vide machines.

3. Hull Strawberries

You can hull strawberries (i.e., remove the white center and green leaves) easily by gently inserting a regular drinking straw into the fruit. Start at the pointy end and move the straw straight up. This technique leaves the strawberries looking nice and pretty, especially if you're using them in a recipe. The folks at Food & Wine show you how it's done below.

4. Hold & Keep Necklaces Untangled

Want to take your favorite necklace with you on a trip but don't know how to transport it? Thread the chain through a drinking straw and it won't get tangled up in an unmanageable knot.

It may not be pretty, but it gets the job done. Image via Juripunek

5. Remove Cork Floaters in Wine

Have some pieces of cork floating in your wine? America's Test Kitchen says to use your drinking straw to get those pieces out. Just place the straw over a piece of cork, then cover the other end of the straw with your finger to create a vacuum. Repeat as needed (and get better at opening wine so you can avoid this problem in the future).

A straw works best for a few cork crumbs in your wine. If you have a lot, a strainer might work better. Image via Lifehacker

6. Make Plants Water Themselves

If you're feeling handy, you can turn a wine bottle, cork, and drinking straw into a device that waters your plants while you're away. It'll help keep water flow to a minimum so you don't drown your plant. You can get step-by-step instructions from One Classy Motha.

(1) Setting up the DIY wine globe. (2) In action. Images via One Classy Motha

You can also go even more DIY and follow Yumi's tutorial on creating a self-irrigating planter with yogurt containers and a straw.

If your plants are small, this is a great DIY option. Image by Yumi Sakugawa/WonderHowTo

7. Make Single-Use Toiletry Dispensers

It's a pain to lug an entire container of lotion, conditioner, or sunscreen in your purse or backpack. Never fear: you can use a heat sealer (or a regular cigarette lighter) to convert drinking straws into containers that carry just enough product for a single use.

These were closed with a heat sealer. Be sure to label what's in each one to avoid any confusion. Image via Mighty Girl

For instructions on use pliers and a cigarette lighter to make these little single-use packets, check out our guide over in MacGyverisms.

8. Anchor a Floating Straw

And what if you're using your straw to actually drink a liquid? Well, be sure you know this hack so your straw doesn't float out of your can of soda. Check out this tip over in the The King of Random's summer hacks roundup.

You'll never get poked in the eye by an errant straw again once you know this trick. Image via The King of Random

9. Let Your Cats Have Them

Yes, straws are just one of the many super cheap cat toys that you already have at home. They love those suckers. I know people who buy boxes of these things just for their cats, and apparently, you should never leave a drink with a straw in it unattended.

Want to learn more handy hacks for common kitchen items? Check out our hacks for paper towels, chopsticks, kitchen shears, cooking spray, dental floss, rice cookers, and more.

1 Comment

Hi, great straw life hacks! I've been living in Taiwan for the past 5 years and everybody here ties their straw wrapper to their straw, this way it doesn't blow away. I thought it was pretty cool so I made a blog post about it, please feel free to add it to the list if you want.

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