Reusable shopping bags are great for the environment and helping us cut down on plastic waste. But without the proper cleaning, they could become harmful to your health. Think about it, you toss them in your cart at the store, stow them in your car, and set them on the ground while unpacking. Not to mention all the raw meat, produce, and dairy products that might leak residue. They could be carrying loads of bacteria. Here’s some simple ways to clean them!

How to Wash Reusable Canvas Bags
The best way to clean canvas or cloth bags is in the washing machine. First, shake out the bags to remove bits of food, dirt, and other debris. To help prevent the bags from fraying, toss them in with other items like towels or linens. To kill bacteria, be sure to use hot water cycle and detergent. Avoid bleach as it could weaken or damage the bag’s fibers. You should plan to wash your reusable bags weekly or immediately after any spills or leaks.

How to Wash Recycled Plastic Bags
Bags made from recycled plastics, like polypropylene or PET, need to be washed by hand. Shake them out and then wipe them down with warm, soapy water. Be sure to clean around the inner and outer seams, flipping the bags inside-out if necessary. Thoroughly wipe down the bag with a dry towel after washing or let air-dry completely before putting away to prevent mildew growth.

How to Keep Your Bags Clean
With all bags, avoid cross-contamination by stashing meat, produce, and dry ingredients in separate sacks. Use an insulated bag for your raw chicken and ground beef and wipe down the interior with a disinfecting wipe after each use. Avoid storing them in your car or another warm area, which can speed up the bacteria growth. Instead store them in a cool, dry place like your pantry. And avoid using them for other purposes like a gym bag or diaper bag.

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