I love reusable bags and have quite the collection. I use them for groceries, dog traveling accessories, beach/lake bags, and the list goes on. Confession: I have never washed them, until now. I've seen the news stories about reusable grocery bags being a breeding ground for E. coli and other nasty things. But, I figured it was other people's bags and not mine because mine are stored under my car seat, behind the couch and hanging in the garage. Perfectly and most definitely clean...not.
I researched the best way to clean these bags. Here's what I found:
For 100% non woven polypropylene: wash in cold water and air dry. (The label said hand wash, so I put it on that setting in the washer.)
For cloth bags: wash in hot water and tumble or line dry.
For the shiny plastic, nylon or insulated type: wipe down with an antibacterial wipe or spray and air dry. Or read the label if you didn't rip it off, one of mine says to wash on cold.
Tip: Turn the bags inside out prior to popping them in the washer to make sure the insides and seams get clean.
So...gathering the bags I use for my shopping (and leaving the several hundred that I use for other things), I head to washer and put them in. I feel slightly guilty here. Why? I'm reusing bags to help the environment and now I'm using the washer - a big household waster of resources. I quickly overcame my guilt, and decided that I'm not washing them often enough to outweigh the benefits. Plus, I hate plastic bags on the side of the road, in trees, or their negative impact on wildlife.
My grocery sacks are 100% non woven polypropylene. I turned them inside out, removed the plastic bottom and washed them on cold, then set them out to dry on the floor (no sunshine here on wash day). I washed the plastic bottoms with warm soapy water.
**Light bulb moment** I need a spray to keep these bags clean (or at least cleaner than doing nothing) in between the machine washing. Thinking cap on...
Reusable Grocery Bag Disinfectant Spray
Grab a spray bottle, vinegar or water and your favorite antibacterial essential oil. Fill your bottle with vinegar or distilled water (or a combo of both), add a few drops of EOs* depending on the size of your bottle. Shake well before each spray. When you spray, make sure to get the seams and corners.
Here's a list of a few antibacterial essential oils:
- Tea Tree
*1 drop of EO per 1 oz of water (or vinegar) - you can always add more if you'd like but remember with EOs, less can be more. You can select one type of EO or mix a few together.
I chose clove and did a mix of water and vinegar. I plan to put this bottle on the shelf in the kitchen and spritz the bags each time I unload my groceries. And I vow to wash my bags more often.