Truth be told, reusable grocery bags are quite helpful. They make shopping easy and convenient, eliminating the need to constantly have to buy new bags.
However, these bags need to be properly maintained. Otherwise, they will harbor germs that may migrate to other parts of your home.
And yet, according to a study by the American Chemistry Council, roughly 97% of people never wash their reusable grocery bags even though they carry harmful bacteria such as E. coli.
Fortunately, dealing with this issue is quite easy – just start regularly washing your reusable grocery bags.
How do you disinfect reusable grocery bags?
The best way to wash a reusable grocery bag depends primarily on what material is made from.
So to ensure you know what cleaning processes go well with what type of bag, here is a brief rundown:
Canvas, cotton, and fabric reusable bags
While some of these bags come with detailed cleaning instructions, others don’t.
If yours is one of the latter, here is a straightforward guideline:
- Wash it using hot water and your usual detergent. This is integral in killing bacteria such as E.coli.
- Air-dry the bag after washing it. Machine drying makes some fabrics shrink.
- Don’t use your fabric bags until they are completely dry. Any moisture can lead to the growth of mold and mildew.
Nylon reusable bags
The basic guidelines you should follow when washing nylon reusable bags include:
- You can either machine wash these bags using the gentle cycle or wash them by hand.
- When washing them by hand, use warm soapy water and pay extra attention to their crevices and corners.
- Don’t put them in the dryer – the high heat can make them weaken, distort or melt. You should air dry them instead.
Plastic (polypropylene) reusable bags
Washing these kinds of bags isn’t that complicated. All you have to keep in mind is:
- You can either hand wash them or toss them in the washer and use the gentle cycle.
- If you are pressed on time, disinfecting them using Lysol or an antibacterial wipe is more than enough.
- Always air-dry these bags – placing them in the dryer could make them melt.
- Don’t use chlorine bleach on them – this could weaken their fibers.
Insulated reusable bags
Made of heavy-duty nylon and waterproof cooler bag liners, these bags need to be washed as often as any other reusable grocery bag.
For best results, spray and wipe them with disinfectant solutions, paying close attention to any zippers.
Take care of your bags
To ensure that your reusable grocery bags aren’t breeding grounds for germs and bacteria, you need to do more than just cleaning them regularly.
For one, you should never store them in your car’s trunk – this dark damp spot may encourage the growth of bacteria. This practice goes hand in hand with the fact that you should never store any damp bag.
Additionally, designate one bag for carrying meat and wash it after every use.
Also, never use your reusable grocery bags to store gym or sports gear.
And when in doubt, always do a sniff test – any whiff of a mustiness is a surefire sign that it’s time to clean a bag.