Reusable bags can take a beating -- everything from dirt and sand to sticky messes from an accidental spill. If you plan on using items such as reusable insulated bags in an effort to save the environment (kudos), you should also save yourself from the occasional gross and sometimes odorous lunch bag.
Reusable bags can be used for anything from a portable wine bag to take to the beach or a daily grocery bag. Of course, after awhile they can get on the sour side. That's because insulated bags don't just keep in cold or heat, they can also trap bacteria. To clean your reusable bags, here are some tips to help keep them squeaky clean:
Check the tag
Always check the tag to see the best way to wash your reusable bags. If they don't state specifically the right way to wash it, by hand is probably the best method.
In the Wash
A lot of reusable bags can be run in the washing machine on a cold cycle with some mild detergent. If you have a load of towels or rags that need cleaning, you can throw in your bag as well. The best option for drying is to just let them air dry if you can. Some can be put in the dryer fine in a gentle cycle.
The best option here is to use warm water and some dish soap. Use a sponge to gently scrub down the insides (and outsides if necessary) and then wipe down with a damp cloth. Make sure to get in all the crevices where crumbs and bacteria hide. Lay the bag out upside down and as open as possible to dry. If the the outside of the bag dries faster than the inside, try to flip the bag inside out and let it dry for a little longer.
If you're in a hurry or just need a quick clean, using antibacterial wipes is a great way to clean on the go. Simply scrub the area with the wipe until it's sufficiently clean and then dry with a paper towel or clean rag. Other cleaning options can include using vinegar or a natural ingredients-based cleaner.
Using reusable or insulated bags is a great way to minimize environmental impact as well as a means to add efficiency to your life. Keep lunches and beverages cooler longer and have less trash at the end of the week. A single person who uses reusable bags their whole life would eliminate more than 22,000 plastic bags from the environment. That's a lot of impact from a small lifestyle change. One insulated bag means a lot less waste.