Washing Your Reusable Shopping Bags

I have a dirty little secret. Literally.


Up until this past week, I can’t tell you the last time I washed my reusbale grocery bags. I have a hard enough time remembering them each time I go to the grocery store. To actually wash them after each use and get them into my car before my next shopping trip, well, quite frankly, that’s asking a lot.
Or maybe it isn’t.
Out of sheer curiosity last week I googled ‘washing reusable grocery bags’. Don’t do it unless you’re prepared to be a little eebed out. What I found was not pretty. In fact, it freaked me out and I don’t get freaked out easily.


Here’s the skinny. Or should I say dirty?

  • Many sources said you should wash your bags after every use. Considering I go to the grocery store multiple times a week, this seems a bit excessive to me. But since I used to only wash them ever so often, I’m splitting the difference and my goal is to wash them every few weeks.
  • Leaving bags in the car during the summer months is no bueno. Heat + no air = the perfect breeding ground for nasty bacteria. This is tough for me. If the bags aren’t in my car, there is a pretty good chance they’ll be forgotten. Good thing I live in a ski town and only have to remember this a few months each year.
  • Always pack meat in a separate bag. This should be a given but I haven’t always adhered to this. If I think the meat looks packaged well enough, I’ll throw it in with everything else. Pretty gross now that I think about it. The thought of chicken juice on my bananas is too much….sorry I even went there. No more though. I’ve actually been getting my meat packed separately in a plastic bag if available. I use the plastic bags for doggy bags when I’m hiking so I feel ok about it.
  • Not all bags are created equal. I used to have a lot of reusable bags made of all kinds of materials. I’ve sorted them out and downsized to only bags that can be washed and dried. Now I mostly have cotton bags and a few nylon ones that can hold up to the drier. All the plastic vinyl type ones I got rid of. There is just no great way to wash them. The old adage, “you get what you pay for”, applies here too. The $1 bags at the check out can’t be washed. Pay the extra few dollars and invest in bags you can use for years.
  • clean-pic-reusable-grocery-bags-mountainmamacooks

    So tell me, how often do you wash your reusable bags? Do you have any tips to add for keeping them clean and cootie free?