Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
No matter what type of reusable grocery bags you prefer, find the best way to clean and sanitize them. Prevent harmful mold and bacteria growth.
Best Ways to Clean Your Reusable Bags
More and more we are seeing states eliminating plastic bags and switching to paper, but at a cost. The nice thing about plastic is they were one-time use. So we never had to worry about growing bacteria.
Now many of us are left wondering about our reusable bags.
We know that reusable bags are great for the environment, and you can use them for all of your shopping needs. Instead of ending up with a ton of plastic bags, every time you come home from the store you just use your reusable bags instead.
Did you know that a single set of reusable bags can eliminate as many as 20,000 disposable plastic bags?
Using your bags regularly does means they are going to get dirty, though. In fact, they are considered “High Touch” items. Learning the best way to wash reusable and recyclable bags can protect you from harmful germs.
So how do you clean them?
Let’s talk about the best ways to clean your reusable bags.
Don’t leave unwashed bags in your car because the heat lets bacteria multiply.
What You’ll Need:
- Laundry detergent
- Disinfecting wipes or sprays
- Cleaning clothes or paper towels
A Few Do’s & Don’ts
- Do develop a routine or cleaning habit.
- Wipe down your bags after each use, and do aim to wash them around once a month.
- Do wrap your meat in the offered plastic bag at the grocery store.
- After disinfecting do make sure to allow your bags to dry completely. To prevent and discourage mold and bacteria growth.
- In the warm months, do consider using ice packs in your insulated bags. To help keep refrigerated and frozen foods cold until you get home.
- Don’t intermix your meats, produce or pre-made food in with other items. Designate a special bag for them.
- Don’t keep uncleaned bags in your car during warmer months. This will only give away to bacteria growth.
How to Clean Cotton or Canvas Reusable Bags
Cotton or canvas bags are some of the easiest reusable bags to clean. Because of the sturdy nature of their material, you can simply throw these bags into your washing machine with some laundry detergent and wash them with hot water.
These bags can also be thrown into the dryer, causing no damage to them. But do note, some canvas bags may shrink with hot heat in the dryer.
How to Clean Nylon Reusable Bags
Petroleum-based nylon bags are great but they aren’t quite as sturdy as cotton or canvas reusable bags. Nylon bags need to be hand-washed in warm soapy water, and then turned inside out and hung up to line dry.
Don’t put nylon bags in the dryer because high heat may cause the material to melt, become distorted, or weaken. Air drying them is best.
How to Clean Recycled Plastic Reusable Bags
These are some of the most common reusable bags and there are two different ways that you can choose to clean them. The first is to hand wash them with soap and water, and the second is to wash them in the washing machine with laundry detergent on the gentle cycle.
No matter how you decide to wash these bags, they need to be hung up to dry, as the heat from the dryer will damage them.
How to Clean Insulated Reusable Bags
Some reusable bags are insulated to help keep cold foods cold, or hot foods hot. Insulated bags cannot be washed in the washing machine without damaging the insulating material.
Instead, these bags need to be sprayed and wiped with a disinfecting solution. Then left out to air dry. If your bag or tote has zippers, make sure to wipe down or spray those, too.
How Often Should You Clean Your Reusable Bags?
How often you need to clean your reusable bags really depends on how often you use them. If you are using them several times a week, then you probably want to wash them at least once per week.
If you are only using them once or twice a week, then washing them once a month will probably be just fine.
However, shopping bags used for meats, produce, and precooked foods should be washed after every use when carrying food, just as you would launder a kitchen towel.
How to Disinfect Your Reusable Bags
Sometimes you need to go beyond just cleaning your bags and disinfecting them, too. This is especially true for any reusable bags that you used to put meat or eggs into as they can spread harmful bacteria. Fortunately, it is not hard to disinfect your reusable bags and you can use the same techniques for all of them.
Simply wipe down your reusable bags thoroughly with a disinfecting wipe, paying special attention to the seams and handles, and allow them to dry thoroughly before putting them away.
Alternatively, you can spray the bags down with a disinfectant spray like Lysol, again allowing them to dry thoroughly before putting them away.