How to Clean Reusable Grocery Bags & Tips to Disinfect Bags

The COVID-19 outbreak has prompted a lot of us to start thinking about things we’ve never wondered before, like, “How do I keep my kids busy at home?”, “How many hours of Netflix can I watch in one sitting?”, and of course, the reason we’re here, “Does anyone have tips on how to clean reusable grocery bags?”.

Cleaning and disinfecting your grocery bags not only helps stop the spread of germs, but also helps halt food cross-contamination. Think of all the different foods you throw into your reusable bags, from meat to dairy to items from the bulk bin that meet and greet one another. Yup, it’s time to clean.

The Difference between Cleaning & Disinfecting

Before we get down and dirty with the how to wash reusable bags tips, it’s good to understand the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. There’s an important distinction that is especially pertinent right now:

  • Cleaning: removes germs, dirt, and grime from objects and surfaces. You can clean with soap or detergent and water. You can’t count on cleaning to kill germs, but it will lower the amount of them on the surface or object.
  • Disinfecting: kills germs on objects and surfaces. This lowers the risk of spreading germs or infections, but does not necessarily clean the objects or surfaces.

The takeaway here is that it’s a two-step process: first, clean your grocery bags, and then disinfect them.

How to Wash Reusable Grocery Bags

Up first: let’s put on our gloves and get those reusable grocery bags clean!

The cleaning method really depends on the type of bag you have:

Non-Woven Reusable Bags

What are non-woven bags, exactly? They are made from non-woven polypropylene, which is a type of plastic that doesn’t hold up well when in the washer or dryer. Wash them by hand in warm soapy water and line dry.

Cotton Totes & Canvas Grocery Bags

Cotton and canvas reusable grocery bags are the easiest to clean! Throw them in the washer with detergent and hot water and you’re good to go. They’re even dryer-friendly.

Insulated Bags

Be especially thorough when cleaning insulated bags, as they are typically used to keep meat and dairy items cool on your way back from the grocery store. Wash by hand in warm soapy water, followed by an anti-bacterial wipe, taking extra care with the seams. Line dry.

Polyester Reusable Bags

The tip on how to clean nylon grocery bags is to hand wash in warm soapy water, turn inside out, and line dry.

How to Disinfect Grocery Bags

Disinfecting your reusable bags should always be your second and final step. Remember, washing is the key to cleaning the bags and disinfecting is how you remove the germs.

How to disinfect grocery bags is exactly how you would disinfect any object or surface:

  1. Put on your gloves.
  2. Take an antibacterial wipe to the bag.
  3. Get the bag wet enough to stay visibly wet for four minutes.
  4. Wipe off with a paper towel.

And, you’re done! You have now learned how to clean and disinfect reusable grocery bags, which is a safe practice to always use.

Catherine O.

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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