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How Do You Clean Your Reusable Shopping Bags?

Friday, October 20, 2017 | Comments (0)

Last week, News.com.au ran a story about how using a reusable shopping bag could be making you sick. The story referred to the findings of researchers from the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University, who found that all the reusable bags they studied were contained bacteria like E. Coli and coliform bacteria. 

Being the lovers of reusable bags that we are, we think it behooves us to inform you that while reusable shopping bags are fantastic for the environment, as with anything that’s used repeatedly, bags can and will get dirty hauling your food and other items.

So, it’s important to clean them regularly. And in case you haven’t done that before, we’ve put together a quick guide on how to wash and disinfect different types of reusable shopping bags. Keep reading to learn more.

Canvas Bags

Made from a durable plain-woven fabric, canvas shopping bags are perhaps the easiest reusable bag to clean. Just throw them in the washing machine and wash with hot water and your favourite brand of detergent. Line dry or run them through a dryer—it’s that simple.

Non-woven Polypropylene Bags

Non-woven polypropylene bags, also known eco-bags, look like they’re made from some kind of fabric material, but they’re actually manufactured from recycled plastic.

To clean them, you can soak and hand wash your bags in warm soapy water and line dry. Running them through a washing machine and dryer can cause the material to pile.

In addition, be sure to clean the inner and outer seams where crud from your vegetables and fruits can accumulate.

Insulated Reusable Shopping Bags

These bags, which have a layer of insulating material, are a popular choice for carrying cooked food and raw meat, keeping them warm and cool, respectively.

After transporting meat or any other frozen foods in these bags, be sure to wipe them down with disinfectant wipes or a liquid detergent solution. Line dry and avoid using the dryer to prevent damage to the bag.

By the way, be sure you don’t use the same insulated shopping bag for raw meat and cooked food to prevent cross-contamination.

Nylon Bags

Turn these bags inside out and hand wash in warm soapy water. You can also throw them in the wash, but be sure to use the lowest cycle to prevent the bag from falling apart at the seams, literally. Hang to air dry. 

How Often Should I Wash My Bags?

If you’re like me, I like to use different reusable bags for specific items; toiletries go in one bag, meats go in an insulated bag, canned goods in the other, and fruits and vegetables go in other bags.

·      For my toiletries bag, I only have to clean it once a month, provided I keep it off the floor. Same goes for the bags I use for canned and packaged goods.

·      For the bags used for fruits and vegetables, I clean them every other week or so.

·      For my insulated bags, I clean them after every use and use different bags for cooked and raw food.

So, there you have it. Cleaning your reusable shopping bags isn’t rocket science. With diligence and discipline, you shouldn’t have a problem with your bags collecting dirt and bacteria. 

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