Keeping Your Reusable Shopping Bags Clean

cleaning reusable bags

I have been trying REALLY HARD to remember to take and use my reusable bags when I go grocery shopping. Emphasis being on the TAKING! I have such a hard time remembering to bring them with me to the store. (See Tips For Remembering Your Reusable Bags at the end of this post.)

But when I DO remember I feel good about the fact that I’m helping reduce waste and pollution and saving resources. Did you know that a single set of reusable shopping bags could eliminate  as many as 20,000 disposable plastic bags? (Again, that’s assuming you remember to USE them each time!)

Reusable bags are a good thing! But did you ever stop to think about whether your reusable bags were clean? I know I didn’t! And apparently I’m not alone!


cleaning reusable bags



Researchers at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University asked shoppers headed into grocery stores in California and Arizona, if they wash their reusable bags. Most shoppers — 97%, in fact — reported that they do not regularly, if ever, wash their bags.

The researchers tested 84 of the bags for bacteria. They found whopping amounts in all but one bag, and coliform bacteria (suggesting raw-meat or uncooked-food contamination) in half. And yes, the much-feared E. coli was among them — in 12% of the bags.

But the GOOD NEWS is that they also tested the effectiveness of washing the bags which they found reduced bacteria levels to almost nothing.

So, I think you know where I’m going with this….we all need to get in the habit of cleaning our reusable bags to make sure they’re both eco-friendly AND safe.

Here are some tips from the Food Safety and Inspection Service ( 


cleaning reusable bags


Wash reusable grocery bags often.

  • Cloth reusable bags should be washed in a washing machine using laundry detergent and dried in the dryer or air-dried.
  • Plastic-lined reusable bags should be scrubbed using hot water and soap and air-dried.
  • Check that both cloth and plastic-lined reusable bags are completely dry before storing them.

Always put raw meats into a disposable plastic bag before putting them in a reusable bag.

  • A disposable plastic bag helps contain any juices that drip off of raw meat packages, which can touch other foods and contaminate them. Disposable plastic bags are usually available in the raw meat or produce areas of your store.
  • Throw away disposable plastic bags used for raw meat immediately after use. Never reuse bags that contained raw meat or poultry.

Keep meats, fresh produce, and ready-to-eat foods separated.

  • Use separate bags dedicated for meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and ready-to-eat foods. It’s also a good idea to keep these foods separated in your shopping cart, at the checkout line on the conveyor belt, and at home. This will help reduce cross-contamination.
  • Remember that cold food needs to be refrigerated within two hours of leaving the store or market. Cold food should be refrigerated within one hour when temperatures outside are above 90 degrees.

Store reusable bags at home in a cool, dry place, not in the car.

  • Store reusable bags in a cool, dry place, such as in your home or in the garage. Higher temperatures, like those inside of a car or a car’s trunk, can cause germs like Salmonella bacteria to grow faster.

Do not use reusable grocery bags for other purposes.

  • Bags used for groceries should be used only for food. Don’t carry items such as baby bottles, toys, gym clothes, and other items in the same reusable bags that you take to the grocery store.

 cleaning reusable bags

As I was researching this topic, I came across another great tip from Lea at A Drop Of This for keeping reusable bags safe and clean between washings.  She came up with her own Reusable Grocery Bag Disinfectant Spray.  Simply add equal parts of water or vinegar (or a combo of both) to a spray bottle and 1 drop of your favorite essential oil per 1 oz of water (or vinegar) and shake well. Each time you unload your groceries give the inside of the bags a generous spritzing. This doesn’t REPLACE washing…but can help keep the nasties at bay. 

Here’s a list of a few antibacterial essential oils: Bergamot, Cinnamon, Clove, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Lemon, Oregano, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Tea Tree, Thyme


These simple steps will help you to reduce cross-contamination, and help keep you and your family safe from harmful bacteria.


cleaning reusable bags
Photos by Anna Gleave

Now…if I could just remember to take my CLEAN bags with me to the store!

Here are a few MORE tips!

  • Store your bags in the place you associate with shopping, like right next to where you hang your purse!
  • It actually pays to BYOB. Lots of stores now offer CASH incentives for using your own bags.  Maybe the thought of cold, hard cash will jog your memory! :-)
  • If that freebie bag you got at the auto show doesn’t get you excited about taking it shopping…invest in a cute fabric tote! Now you can be environmentally-friendly AND fashionable at the same time.
  • Make sure that “TOTE BAG” tops your weekly shopping list. Take advantage of reminders on your phone as well.

It takes a little effort, but eventually BYOB will become second nature.


Are you in the habit of washing your reusable bags?




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  1. Steph says

    Thanks for the article! I’ve been thinking about this lately and I shudder to think how awful my bags are! I’ve been using, but not washing them for…gulp…years! Thanks Jillee!

  2. Tracy Galloway says

    Hello! Thanks for the idea on cleaning the bags…I too am trying to remember to take mine when I go tot the store. I bet if they quit using the plastic bags we would all figure it out! LOL!

    Also I read your recovery story- well it isn’t a story- it is reality isn’t it. My better half has been in recovery about 2 years now. He sounds like you. Addiction hit him late in life – around 47 – and was born in pain- our daughter diagnosed with an incurable illness- he drank to numb the pain…and two stints in rehab- Betty Ford- 3 months came out…daughter had brain surgery…wasn’t working AA program- back in he went…then he went to Origins in Texas- AWESOME place…not cushy…but real…and real is what he needed..had an awesome counselor who gave it to his addiction straight…no BS..Now he goes to AA 3 times a week if he can…I am so proud of him. There will be struggles ahead and Good times- always got to think that we will laugh again- but now he hoepfully has the tools he needs. Me? I ate M&Ms…but they don’t hand out tickets for that, do they? LOL! Wish they did… God bless and am so happy for you to be in recovery…Am so happy that you share your story and are not afraid to put it out there.. When my husband was diagnosed as an alcoholic, I suddenly had several of my best friends who came to me and told me that they were also. I had no idea. So that gave me great hope…great hope…Thank God he did not lose the family in the process…as hard as the possibility of losing our girl may be…losing the family would not be good at all…anyways…just wanted to share that and tell you even though I don’t know you…as a partner of an alcoholic…I am glad that you stuck it out and did the work and continue to do so…As your blog shows…you have much to offer…

    • Beth Sherrill says

      I hope that while your husband goes to his three meetings a week, you will consider attending Alanon, many groups have them at the same time. Alanon will help you deal with the ups and downs.

    • Jeanette says

      Thank you for your beautiful testimony, Tracy! It has to be cathartic to not keep this “secret” bundled up inside you. I’ve learned that by sharing our stories, we don’t give them power over us, and we’re not wasting energy trying to keep it secret. And too many of us (myself included) are numbing ourselves with food…M&M’s do make you feel better, don’t they? God bless you and keep you and family. May your daughter be healed, and if that is not part of the divine plan, may your and your family provide comfort and love to her, and may you find joy in your time together.

  3. Brenda says

    Jillee, I keep my bags on the backseat of my car and still sometimes can’t remember to take them in the store! I like the idea of the disinfectant spray, thanks for sharing it.

  4. Jill L says

    I got the kind of bags that roll up and fit into my little purse. They are also very washable. I wash them and put them back in my purse most shopping trips. It is very rarely under 90 in Bahrain.

  5. Barbara Tyler says

    You’ve touched a vein. Maybe if I had the “Jeep” bags my husband might use them since we drive a Jeep.

    I truly hate store bags, the way the store checkers fill them, and the quantity they use. I always compliment the better baggers. To avoid slowing the checkers, I place their bags inside my bags; usually at least two of theirs to one of mine. Keeps groceries from escaping when I make a sudden stop; lost a head of cauliflower once under the driver’s seat and found the smell about a week later. Have been thinking about using a plastic tote system since I already sort my groceries in the cart.

    • Nadine says

      If you put your bags down before you put you food down then the first thing the cashier will pick up is your bags and that will be he first thing the bagger will pick up then there is no need to use their bags and you won’t feel like you are slowing the down. just a suggestion.

    • Ana says

      I read your comment and wish I had your baggers in my area. If I let them use disposable plastic bagsI can fit 4 or 5 bags in my reusable one. The thing is I believe it is the store policy to only put a couple of items per bag.

      I don’t know what happens to the bags in the inland states, I live close to the ocean and my work takes me all over the coastline, it is heartbreaking to see the little islands of garbage even in the middle of nowhere many miles offshore. The glue of those islands is the stupid supermarket bag, they get caugh with floating floating seaweeds (sargassum and such) and then start collecting other floating waste, agrrrr such a shame.

      Please everyone do remember your reusable bags, but not only to the supermarket. If you go to the hobby store, or hardware store or any store, take your own bag.

      • Ashley says

        Your comment about store policy to only put a few things in the bag reminded me of when I worked at a store. There was no store policy about that, but whenever I put more than a few items in the bag, people would whine and complain. (You sure put a lot of stuff in there, or, That needs to be double bagged, or other ridiculous comments.) I really didn’t fill the bags that full, so I started only putting a few things in the bags so I wouldn’t get grouched at anymore. (Needless to say, I do not work retail anymore. Hallelujah!)

  6. says

    Petroleum is used in the making of plastic bags. I’ve read you could drive a car 1 mile on the amount of petroleum it takes to make 14 plastic grocery bags so I take a sticky note and put the number ’14′ on it and post it to the dash of my car so I can see it when I get in. When I see that number I always know what it stands for and remember the bags.

    I was going to post the number ’1,000,000′ because that’s how many birds die every year from the ingestion of plastic but the number 14 seemed an easier cue and more appropriate for use in a vehicle.

  7. Sara says

    I keep my reusable bags folded up in the “cracks” of my car between the seat and the center console. Helps keep miscellaneous stuff from dropping down into those cracks, too!!

  8. Jessica K says

    Wow I didn’t realize the amount of people who don’t wash their totes.

    Make sure to remove the bottom insert if your bag has one, they either crumble or get all bent out of shape. Found this out the hard way once.

  9. Jennifer says

    I suggest air drying your bags. I made the mistake of putting all of my canvas bags in the dryer at one time, and now my bags have shrunk to half their size :-(
    Great reminder to keep them clean, thanks Jillee!!!

  10. Elizabeth says

    I always have my reusable bags. I kind of get snippy when the cashiers bypass my bags and start bagging in plastic. i just grab them off the hook by the door on the way out. J have a few “just in case” bags under the seat of the van in the event I do unplanned shopping. I have different totes I use when I go to the mall and for non food shopping. I made produce bags out of lightweight material so I can keep track of produce without using the plastic bags in the store. That last one drives cashiers crazy-they often just don’t understand the concept.

    • Catherine's not naturally crafty says

      Me too! tulle and cotton cord, why don’t the cashiers understand this? They keep produce so much better and I even made one that fits the celery prefectly, one that holds just the right amount of potatoes, etc. I’m not sure why this is such a hard concept to wrap their brains around. Now if I could just get them to let me bring my own containers for bulk items and not make me use those plastic bags it would be perfect.

  11. says

    Any tips on how to wash the ones that have cardboard in the bottom so they stand up? I have the ones you buy at the grocery store that fold up into a little square but if I wash them then the cardboard is going to turn to mush. I’m really grossed out now but don’t know how to fix it.

      • CTY says

        When the cardboard wears out– I use plastic canvas. They sell it at craft stores like Micheal’s (probably even Walmart). It is a plastic grid about the size of a place mat that you can cut to size easily.

    • Kelly says

      Those rollable cutting boards can sometimes be found cheaply, too, and are a great replacement for cardboard inserts. If the cardboard is sewn into the bottom, you’re probably stuck just using the vinegar and water spritz Jillee described as your only option. I would probably dismantle one with sewn-in carboard and reassemble it without, then cut the plastic canvas or cutting board as a removable insert for stability. My sewing machine and I are old friends, though.

  12. cms says

    I keep a small basket in the trunk of my car filled with reusable shopping bags and totes. If I am in a hurry, I sometimes forget to bring my bags into the store, but I have a pedometer and when I remember I have left the bags in the car, I smile and realize I can “wrack up” more steps just by takinig a moment to go back out to the car and get my bags!

  13. jen says

    The problem we have with the reusable bags is that the baggers at the groceries are so horrible with them. It slows them down tremendously and they just pack them horrendously. I don’t mind taking and using them during slower times (my fave time to grocery shop is Fri or Sat night after 8! ;) but when we have to go at peak times I do let them use the store bags. I don’t feel so bad though, as those bags get lots of reuse as well.

    • Angela says

      Regarding the baggers, it really depends on where you shop…I shop here in the midwest at Hy-Vee and they are VERY good at promoting and accepting the use of BYOB. They even give you 5 cents back per bag each time you bring them. The baggers do a very good job. However, I’ve brought my bags to other places, say, Wal-mart, and that IS a disaster! The checker has no room to put your bags on the bagging corral to place your items inside, even though they themselves sell their own Wal-mart brand reusable bags. All the more reason not to shop at Wal-mart! ;)

  14. says

    Aren’t a lot of bags actually made of paper? I think the basic WalMart ones are. Maybe I’m mistaken. I doubt they’d hold up to being washed. Anyone know if you can wash them? Cleaning them is certainly a great idea, if it can be done without ruining them. Thanks for the tip.

    • Susan says

      I’ve washed the Walmart bags before and just hang to air dry. It must depend on the WM as my checkers always do a great job when I remember to bring them.

      I don’t mind using the store bags either. We use them to empty the litter box, in our bathroom and bedroom trash cans…one of my big concerns is that if they totally do away with them, we’ll still have to purchase bags for our trash cans, litter boxes, etc.

      • Beth Sherrill says

        really, how do you clean out cat boxes without store bags? I even raid the recycling bag bin sometimes when we run low, I also use them in the car as waste bags, but I use my reusable bags for all my major shopping trips, I shop at ALDI and they charge for bags, sure helps me remember to take my own! I collect the store bags at wallmart to do the litter,

  15. Shelley says

    Where I live in Canada they now charge you $.05 per plastic bag. Although it’s only a nickel, it does make you cringe when you spend money on something so silly…and the bags are even cheaper quality now. It took a bit to remember the bags but now I have a system. When I know I am getting groceries I put the bag of bags on the door handle of the door I am using to go outside!!

    I do wash them…but this has made me want to wash them more often. I do suck it up and buy one plastic bag to put all my meat items in.

  16. KD says

    I’ve sen bags made from old clothes, so if you have clothes that are no longer wearable, but you can’t bring yourself to part with them, this might be a good idea :)

    I love my bags because I can fit 6 two liters in a bag and not have to worry about breaking. (DH refuses to quit drinking Mt Dew) I don’t really worry about germs in the bags, I’m not eating out of them ;) I just wash them when they start to look grungy.

  17. Catherine's not naturally crafty says

    Even if they aren’t really washable, in the true sense, go ahead and turn them inside out and let them air in the full sun for an hour or two. The UV light, dry air and heat is a marvelous natural anti-viral and anti-bacterial agent.Flip them right side out and sun/air some more and they should be good to go. Sure they will probably fade. But if you are going for practicalisty then, who cares.

  18. Renée says

    What about the insulated bags? You can’t just throw those in the washing machine can you? I haven’t yet and am hesitant to do so. Anybody ever washed theirs in the washing machine and dried in the dryer?

    • Rene S says

      I have a Trader Joe’s insulated bag and I’ve put it in the washer and air dried it. I used to have a less expensive Aldi’s insulated bag, and I would wipe it down with soap and hot water.

    • Gwyn says

      I have a couple of the big insulated ones and I can’t imagine putting them in the washer or dryer either. I do turn them inside out and wash in the tub or outside with the hose though using a disinfecting cleaner or just soapy water when they get really dirty. I have also put backing soda inside to sit for a while before or after the couple of times they have gotten really stinky for some reason. I also use a spray kitchen counter cleaner and sponge or rag to clean them out in between the major ones.

  19. Susan says

    Our grocery store was selling bags one day. They were preprinted with “meat” and the bag was red, “produce” and the bag was green, etc. I bought both because this was a concern for me. Got home that day and the bagger had put meat in the produce bag and produce in the meat bag! Really? Then I felt like I couldn’t use the produce bag again. Lol

  20. mary knight says

    My bag has a care tag on it – wash by hand as it is from cellulose. I turn it inside out, fill my sink with hot soapy water and vinegar, and wash all my bags by hand. Air dry inside out in the sun. At our Safeway, so many forget to bring their bags in, that they cut us some slack. I usually remember my bags while I’m in checkout. Old habits are hard to change. Thanks for the great tips on separating items; I like that.

  21. Peggy says

    I have gotten so many compliments from checkers and baggers on this idea, I have to share it. Take a few of your old tank tops and just sew along the bottom on your sewing machine. Takes 30 seconds and you have a reusable bag that is also easily washable! Great for produce.

  22. Debra Peck says

    I keep a tote basket in the back of my Denali with an assortment of sizes of bags. I use the cloth ones for meats and vegetables only. They can easily be thrown in the washer and dryer. I keep the plastic ones for canned, boxed and bagged items. I almost NEVER go into ANY type of store without at least one re-useable bag. I take them to estate sales, thrift stores, antique stores and even to malls. More stores will give you a 5 cent credit per bag used!! Fifteen, twenty, twenty-five cents in one store doesn’t seem like much, but that can add up fast in a year. To remind myself to take them in with me, I always keep one sticking out from along side my seat. When I’m thrifting, I have one just for that with hand sanitizer, tissues, tape measure, extra bags, note pad and pen in, ready to go. Then I throw in my wallet, cell phone, and water bottle and off I go.

    Love your Blog. I look forward to every post. Thank you. You got me hooked on E.O’s!!!! :-0 !! On the road to recover and hopefully fewer Rx’s thanx to you!! :-)

  23. Julila says

    I found that keeping them in the car is all I need to help me bring them. They charge is 5 cents a bag here too and there are big signs in the parking lot to bring your own bag. So I put them in the car when I am done un

  24. patricia says

    I do re-use grocery bags, so I don´t mind when I forget my reusable ones at home.
    On the other hand, how about the environmental damage of washing reusable bags frequently? that comes from the use of detergent. This laudry detergent would not be used and sent to water sewers if you didn´t use and wash a reusable bag. You are actually using more water and laundry detergent. So, what has less impact on the environment? Anybody has answered this question?

    • Peggy says

      I would add them to an existing load of laundry which would then mean you do not have an additional load of laundry. It is hard to balance the true effectiveness of using reusable bags against environmental impact. But it seems that even if you do have enough bags that you have to wash them separately, you would not do that every time you go shopping, and the benefits would outweigh the risks. That is my humble opinion.

  25. Merry says

    Last year I was in Maui and found that it was illegal to use/dispense or sell plastic bags for groceries or any retail sale. Maui is the first of the islands to go this route and they’re trying to keep plastic bags out of the oceans. They have in the stores paper bag, re-usable bags and insulated bags. And the latter two are sold almost everywhere. As a nation we are very good at throwing things out instead of re-using. Since being on Maui, I’m trying my best to repurpose or recycle items every chance I get.

  26. Bigg Maxx says

    I always wash my reusable bags, each time I use them. Mine are all the nylon ones sold by Greater Good websites, so I am also helping charities like Animal Rescue and Breast Cancer when I buy the bags! They have pictures of dogs, pink ribbons, etc. on them, which helps get the info about the sites out there. Someone is always asking me where I got them. Since they are nylon, they also take up very little space, and can be carried in my larger purses, and that is where I put them as soon as I take them out of the drier. By the way, Jillee, I am using my homemade detergent from your recipes when I wash them!

  27. Diane says

    I keep my canvas bags washed all the time. It never fails that I go into the store and the checker/bagger comments…and thanks me…about my clean bags. They have tales to share about the bags people use that would literally curl your hair. Gross! and beyond gross!

  28. Melissa says

    I have been a reusable bag user for a while now, but never have the “washing” issue a lot of thought till my previous hometown if Austin, implemented the law banning throwaways. At that time someone made a comment, and that got me thinking, so now I’m an avid washer. I toss all my totes in the wash with both my detergent (Allen’s Natural) as well as BAC-Out, to ensure I’m getting those puppies clean. We also started using reusable produce bags, which I regularly wash in the same manner.

    I still feel that while toting clean bags are good, you can’t just blindly think that these same germs/bacteria are not elsewhere, like the cart and the conveyor belt at check out. Just do your best, but don’t have a panic over it all. ;)

    • Allison says

      I live in Austin currently, and definitely need to get in the habit of washing my reusable bags with the new plastic bag ban in place. This biggest problem I’ve run into is remembering the bags when I arrive at the grocery store. I always have them in my car trunk, but in my haste of locking the car and thinking about my grocery list I usually walk into the store without them and have to go back!

  29. says

    I’m a bag snob and am mildly horrified that people don’t washe their bags on a regular basis. I use the Trolley Dolly (which is a bag of bags) and I store it in my kitchen. We use cloth napkins so my shopping bags go in with the wash with the cloth napkins.

    These are some AWESOME tips! thanks for sharing them!

  30. Mighty_mama says

    In our town they have banned plastic bags and now charge 25cents per paper bag. I really miss having my bags from the grocery store as they were far from one use in our home; dog waste, bathroom trash liners, taking things to friends….Now I often forget to bring them into the store and end up bagging things up when I return to my bags in the car. Doesn’t bother me too much unless the cart wheels lock before I get there.

  31. Tiff says

    I buy cute reusable bags and hang them off the back of my seats in my car. They make cute garbage bags that don’t have to be thrown away when full. I don’t put food or drink items in them so they stay clean for a long time. :)

  32. CTY says

    Jillee- by now you have figured I am a little bit of an odd critter and have no problem sharing my thoughts. I love this post. Washing the bags is something people rarely think about; thank goodness for science experiments. How about the experiment on the shopping cart child seat–all those leaky diapers–nuff said. I place the hand carry basket stores offer in the seat & and fill my tee shirt bags as I go.
    When it comes to bagging I am really very aggressive. I let the bagger/cashier know up front; I tell them I am fanatical about organizing the bags and that I will bag myself. My shopping orders are generally 3 carts full. They sigh–but when they see me empty the bag they packed so I can pack it my way, they either conform or give up

    For produce, refrigerated/frozen & meats I make bags from old shirts (like Jillee taught)–I make mine, when I can, out of old sweat shirts because they are more rugged. They get washed after each use.

    For dry goods I use bags I made from empty Dog Chow bags. They are super strong and I have plenty of them. Sounds crazy I know. I cut a strip off the top (it will become the handle), fold them in on themselves so the top meets the bottom and duct tape it closed, I then use the cut strip to form 2 handles and actually use machine screws to attach the handles. When the bags finally give (hasn’t happened yet–been almost 2 yrs.)–I’ll take off the hardware (to re-use). I have had several people ask if I sell them. Every so often I spray the bags with vinegar & water solution to disinfect them.

  33. Charlotte says

    I have had a cashier tell me some cashiers don’t actually like when people bring their own bags in. I don’t know why – they seem easy enough to pack. Certainly easier to handle on my part.

    Plastic bags drive me crazy as they are of poor quality and the stores try to shove $75 worth of groceries into 2 bags (I think they forget they are not carrying them into my house for me).

    Nevertheless, I always forget my reusable bags (thanks for the reminder by the way – they are getting washed tonight). You would think with my gripe about the plastic that I’d remember a little better.

    But that said, all is not lost as I accumulate the plastic bags and donate to a local children’s hospital thrift store here in Virginia Beach. They get out of my house and into someone else’s.Everyone wins. :D

  34. Leslie says

    Our local grocery store (Hannaford Brothers based out of Maine) USED to offer a nickle for each cloth or reusable bag you brought in. They stopped it. WHY? I can only guess because they’re cheap and for all their posturing about being green and sourcing local veggies, etc. they really don’t give a darn about the environment or their customers.

    I know, Jillee, that I probably shouldn’t use their name, but they deserve to be shamed in my opinion.

    • Gwyn says

      It could be that the effort worked so well that most of their customers now bring bags and yes, the 5 cents per bag became more expensive for them. But stopping the program while still driven somewhat by the expense, is more of an indication about how well their program worked and less about nickle and diming their customers. They have had the program for a long time (I didn’t know it had stopped) and I think were one of if not the first in our area to do it. I still have one of the first canvas bags they used to sell when they started encouraging reusable bags and have to say it is my favorite. I try to use it just for veggies but have to admit that doesn’t always happen, it’s worn and well used and does get washed. :)

  35. Chris says

    We make use of all those scandalous plastic bags. Liners for all the small wastebaskets in the house, sending meals (six-eight people at a time) to the field during planting, harvesting, etc, sending things back and forth to our family’s houses (forgotten grandkids shoes, etc) . Preschools use them. If I ever get more than I need the thrift shops appreciate them. I’m not against reusable bags at all and I have several I use but we need to remember everyone’s needs are different. I am all for conserving resources and protecting our beautiful planet. Empty oatmeal canisters are useful to send cookies home with grandkids. I try to reuse throwaways when I can. We burn our trash so if possible I reuse my large kitchen garbage bag at least once. This was a really good post about keeping our bags clean. I like the idea of a spray bottle of vinegar and eo.

  36. JoK says

    I love my reusable bags and I’m a nurse so I always wash my reusables right after using and then put them on the table by the front door until I can get them to the car. Problem is with a lot of the reusable bags, washing and this crazy florida heat I was having them disintegrate into nothing. So I went to a site called and the bags are a little pricey to start out (around $8 each for the standard size) but they are made of parachute material. Light weight and VERY strong. I’ve had my set for about 8 years now and wash them at least 1 time a week and no rips, tears or frays. Well worth what I paid for it and with the money saved from store discounts for bringing my bags… paid for many times over.

    To give you an idea of strength. I can carry 2 gallon jugs of tea in one.

    ( has a lot of different sizes and styles too! Not just the one similar to your I’m a keeper bag above.)

  37. Pam says

    The city of Eugene just stopped the use of the plastic bags and charge for the paper ones. I shop at Winco where you bag your own groceries which I love. I can only put certain things together and I don’t have to make them too heavy to carry into the house. Have not used a plastic bag now for months. When I grew up in England we never got bags at the grocery store we always carried them so have gone full circle. I take a bunch with me to the farmers market too.

  38. Constance says

    As for baggers (which we do not have) who do not use your bags to your convenience or if you let them use the plastic ones for the sake of time or whatever: why not simply ask them to put all products back in the cart for you, instead of packing? That way, you can pack your stuff yourself afterwards.

    Being from Germany, almost everybody now brings their own bags for shopping. Plastic ones are charged at 0,25 EUR for the smallest. I never think about bringing bags, it is a habit here.
    I always have one or two shoppers that fold themselves into a pouch in my handbag which hold quite a lot and even in my gym bag for emergency shops. I also got large ones from IKEA or a self-made one in which supersized (think 10pack toiletpaper plus kitchen towels etc.) and lightweight stuff find their place. And even one of those fits nicely in my handbag additionally to the folded smaller one. The only thing I do is, I do not shlepp around unnecessary stuff in my medium-sized handbag, so I always have enough space.

  39. SarahLee says

    I buy the most awesome shopping bags at……SAM”S CLUB of all places. They sell a 2 pack for less than 5 dollars that have short handles to carry by hand or longer ones to put over your shoulder. They are pretty big since they are made for warehouse items, but I find I can fit a weeks worth of groceries in 2 bags. Surprisingly sturdy and always amazed at how much they hold. I hate myself every time I forget to bring them with me. They are too big to be used at traditional grocery stores, so I have the cashier scan everything, I put it into my cart unbagged and bag it as I put it in my trunk. Things are packed how I like them-some canned goods in each bag so I can lift them, bread, eggs and chips together, etc. People always ask where I got them because they are so cute: black and white hounds tooth, black and white paisley, black and white harlequin…are you seeing a trend?

  40. Aurie says

    I store my reusable bags in a large camping-style cooler in the garage; it’s hard to walk past without remembering to throw it in the trunk! The cooler corrals my perishables (stored in heat-reflective bags for an extra layer of insulation), keeping everything cold til I get home without even using ice packs, and that’s a good 25-minute drive. Those heat-reflective bags can be inverted and sprayed with disinfectant to dry in the garage until the cloth bags are washed and dried, then everything gets put back in the cooler together for next week!

    I shop mostly at Aldi, so you pretty much have to BYOB or pay per in-store bag. It’s harder to psych up enough to BYOB to the regular supermarkets, though, because often the cashier isn’t used to handling cloth bags and you end up holding up the line behind you. I generally let them bag it in regular plastic, then reuse those bags for trash can liners and other things.

  41. Sue says

    I keep my reusable bags in the trunk of my car when not in use. I have one that is insulated for frozen/refrigerated items. They are folded and kept in one of those fabric storage cubes. That way, even I get inside the store and realize I don’t have my bags, they are just steps away.

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