How to Clean Reusable Grocery Bags

Here's how to clean reusable grocery bags, no matter what they're made of.

Reusable grocery bags are a great way to go green, and they’re often your only option in states and cities that banned plastic bags. Yet many people neglect to properly wash them often enough, or at all! Here’s everything you need to know about how to clean reusable grocery bags.

Why Clean Reusable Grocery Bags?

A University of Arizona study revealed that reusable grocery bags can harbor some pretty nasty stuff, like E. coli, which can lead to foodborne illness. Bacteria, viruses, yeast, and mold can attach themselves to reusable grocery bags. While cleaning washes all this away, you might consider sticking to disposable grocery bags if you’re immunocompromised, sick, or especially worried about catching an illness. Here are 15 diseases you can prevent just by washing your hands.

How often to clean reusable grocery bags

It might sound like a lot, but experts recommend cleaning your reusable grocery bags after every use. Consider it a small price to pay for keeping you and your family healthy. See a few more cons to reusable grocery bags to keep in mind when going green.

How to clean cloth reusable grocery bags

The two most common cloth materials in reusable grocery bags are cotton and bamboo. Durable cotton bags can handle machine washing with hot water and laundry detergent. Bamboo bags should be hand- or machine-washed on the gentle cycle with mild laundry detergent. You can air dry or machine dry either fabric.

How to clean nylon reusable grocery bags

Petroleum-based nylon bags should be hand washed in warm soapy water. Skip the dryer and air dry these bags.

How to clean recycled plastic reusable grocery bags

You have two choices with recycled plastic bags: handwashing with soap and water or machine washing on the gentle cycle with cold water and mild detergent. Always air dry recycled plastic bags.

How to clean insulated reusable grocery bags

Insulated bags that keep your food warm or cold should never go in a washer or dryer. Instead, wash by hand with warm soapy water or wipe them down with an antibacterial wipe. Then air dry. Next, check out some other reusable versions of things you use every day.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman

Amanda Prischak
Amanda Prischak is a freelance writer who began her career in the editorial department of Good Housekeeping magazine. She went on to serve as a copywriter for a major retailer and worked in the corporate communications department of a Fortune 500 company. She freelanced for a wide variety of clients on the side before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She is skilled in article writing, blogging, SEO, web copy, profiles, case studies, and email marketing. She has extensive experience in the property casualty insurance industry and holds the Chartered Property Casuality Underwriter (CPCU) designation. She also has experience in the ecommerce realm from runnning her own online store ( Over her career, she has earned three Content Marekting Awards, a Hubbies award, and two awards from the Insurance & Financial Communicators Association.