Reusable Shopping Bags are only as Good as they are Clean – Tips to Keep your Bags Sanitary, Safe, and Serviceable

December 29, 2012
So you’ve made the decision to switch from paper or plastic to reusable shopping bag – a wise choice! But benefits of eco-friendly reusable grocery bags aside, there is one aspect that requires a little additional work above and beyond what you would normally experience with traditional grocery bag options – having to keep your bags clean and safe. Unbeknownst to most people, harmful bacteria can quickly breed in unwashed bags, so it’s imperative to take necessary cleansing steps on a regular basis. With meat, poultry, and other pre-cooked items are all placed in bags during each and every store trip, it’s easy to see the opportunity for bacteria to rear its ugly head. Not to mention the increase in bacteria likelihood if your custom tote bags are doubling as diaper carriers or gym clothes sacks. So, here are a few tips you should routinely follow in order to ensure your bags remain in prime condition for safe handling of your grocery food items.
  • After each and every shopping trip, put your bags in the laundry and wash them just as you would dish towels, clothing, etc. Even skipping one washing cycle opens up the possibility for contamination, so it’s best not to take that risk. If your bag has instructions on how to launder, follow them precisely. In the absence of instructions, woven canvas bags should generally be washed in hot water with normal detergent and dried on a line or in the dryer. On the other hand, nonwoven polypropylene and recycled PET bags should be hand washed (with the bag turned inside-out), or laundered on a gentle cycle, and should only be air dried.
  • Use the same bags for the same types of food items and engage in proper labeling. Meaning, designate a specific bag for meat, poultry, dairy, produce, and cleaning supplies, and use those bags for their intended items each and every time (i.e. don’t mix and match your bags). While meat juices coming in contact with produce can be dangerous, leaky cleaning supplies touching other items are just as harmful, and so on.
  • Last but not least, don’t leave unwashed bags in your car or other places they can be exposed to direct sunlight. Heat serves as an incubator, allowing bacteria to multiply and become excessively more harmful.
While it might be easier to simply toss your grocery bags once you’ve emptied their contents, the benefits of reusable shopping bags still greatly outweigh this one minor downside. With that said, the cleanliness of your bags should never be taken lightly, and washing them will soon become a regular part of your routine that will quickly become commonplace. To view our eco-friendly reusable bags please visit or contact us at 800.255.0885 with any questions.