Go GREEN – 5 Reasons You Need To Clean Your Reusable Bags

Is your reusable bag deadly? When did you last wash your reusable bags? Ever? Never?!
Read on to find out why you should, and how you can.

In our reusable bag stash we have accumulated a large mixture of:
  • Cotton / canvas totes
  • Supermarket 'green' bags
  • Jute
  • Nylon snazzy bags (come in a pouch)

Photo credit societemagazine.com | safebee.com | beafunmum.com | recycling.com

If bags carry many different food groups and then can be seen carting a pile of clothes or books the next week, things could get a little gross. Actually, seriously disgusting!

As much as we try to keep certain bags for meat, dairy and others for fresh fruit & vegetables the reality is that when we head to the shops it can be whatever has made it back to the car is what we have to use. 

Research shows 64% of bags with a buildup of bacteria, yeast, mold, or coliforms which if they come in contact with food items could be a potential health hazard. The same study states 97% of people have never washed their bags, 75% didn't separate bags for meat and vegetables and 45% stored their bags in the car. 

Wait - you say in the car like it's a problem! Yes, in fact the boot of your car is the worst place to store them especially in summer. The increased temperatures making it the ideal bacteria breeding ground. The health risk is food poisoning similar to using an unwashed chopping board. Think leaked chicken juice onto your carrots.....eeek. Although this is unlikely to actually kill you, food poisoning is horrible, and for those without strong immune systems can be very serious.

How to protect yourself:

1. Wash your bags. 

Cotton and Canvas Bags - simply machine washed. Easy peasy. Best line dried (as with all the bags to let nature work it's disinfecting miracles).

Nylon or Polyester 'pocket' Bags - as above.

Supermarket Green Bags - Soak for 15mins in a tub of hot soapy water to disinfect. These bags dry super quick outside on the line.

Jute / Hemp bags - Beware that some of these bags are in fact plastic lined. You can tell if they are smooth or look shiny. Over time this can start to peel away. They can be washed in hot soapy water also, or wipe the inside with a disinfectant and cloth. 

2. Grocery bags only for Groceries.

Reduce the potential for cross-contamination by keeping your food shopping bags for only food, not sports gear or carrying washing.

3. Colour code or Label bags

Red for Meat is popular ,or use a vivid and write on the inside lip of each bag what should go where. You will have to be kind and assist any checkout operator or packers to help get this right. One for produce / packaged food, meat, diary etc.

4. No bags in the boot.

If you store your reusable bags in your car, try to keep them in the main part, not the boot. This is because the boot will heat up the most and bacteria can multiply quickly in high temperatures.

5. Store additional bags at home

Extra bags not in regular use should be stored in a dry clean area. Then you are ready to grab these for your next shop. 

Finally, 

remember, as the rules change and less bags are provided you will need to use your reusable bags for many different stores and shops. Keep an eye on which ones you are using, but you can feel more confident to grab your bags knowing they are fresh and clean. 

It is another task to add to the many but when half your bags can be washed with your general washing, the rest a quick surface wipe or tub soak, a new routine will settle in to place. This change is good and benefits more than us so rather than grumble, we feel it is better to know and be aware. Now go find those bags, label them for your next shop and psych yourself up to wash them when you get home!

REMINDER - our Goodie Bags, and Loot Bags are machine washable. Best to line dry, but can handle the dryer if they sneak in. ENCORE bags can be simply wiped clean, or hosed down outside if seriously filthy first!