This is a health tip for those who live frugally or green. Make sure you wash your cloth grocery bags on a regular basis, in warm water with detergent. Rinse well, squeeze out the excess water, and hang to drip dry.
Meats often leak juices onto the bags, and produce sometimes carries pests or bacteria from the soil. Often times those can spread to the items which are placed into the bag on your next grocery trip. So, wash them often.
Also, ask the sacker to place your meat in a plastic bag prior to putting it into the recyclable cloth bag. That helps cut down on soilage and bacteria.
By mom-from-missouri from NW, MO
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What I've been doing is use a different style green bags according to purpose. I have one style for books or needed file folders, another style for dirty clothes to be contained if I spend the night at a family member or friends house and then I have a few of one different style to use for groceries (my choice for groceries is Walgreen's dark green colored bags that have an extra long handle that fits on my shoulders and they are on sale a couple times a year for $1.00 for 3 bags). I don't really care about whether or not the dirty clothes or book/file bags get washed often but I do care about washing the grocery bags after each use! Simply soak them in distilled vinegar and water in the sink, wash with soap and water and hang to dry in the shower. That's as easy to do as the pie you might be placing in a green bag on your next grocery visit, ;-)
Happy and healthy green bagging!
By Deeli from Richland, WA
I put mine in the washer and dryer. (07/14/2010)
Another great reason to wash these bags is because they get really stinky! I've worked in a grocery store and dreaded when people come in with reusable bags because they smell so bad! Honestly, I've almost gagged a time or two. Equally gross is animal hair on the bags.
I've often wondered if it would work to wash these bags! Thanks for the great tip! (07/14/2010)
Hmm. I'd never really thought about this issue. I think it's partly because I have to nag hubby to use them, which isn't often enough to suit me. It's probably also because ours only get used for groceries, nothing else. I'll definitely remind hubby we need to wash them, though! (07/14/2010)
I put mine in the washer and dryer too. (07/14/2010)
Thanks Deeli, it's something easy to overlook. If you don't mind advertising a draper's shop, Shaws (UK) are selling strong reusable bags for 25p . Might not go in the machine but would handwash.
Marg from England. (07/15/2010)
Great idea. I personally feel very happy when I use my clean, but quite wrinkly, washed bags - please don't iron them - this is a complete waste of electricity! (07/15/2010)
Does it defeat the purpose of reusable bags to use a whole lot of water to individually clean them after every use? Is that wasting water? If you are going to wash at load in the washer with other things that seems like a better idea. (07/16/2010)
KaLoJa, I don't think anyone who uses green bags would waste an entire washing machine load to simply wash them alone. I have four green bags and they fit quite nicely in my bathroom sink to soak in a cup of distilled vinegar and a gallon of water.
Also, in my case, I am disabled and only have the energy to do laundry a couple times a month (and, yes, I do change my clothes daily) but I want my bags that carry food in them clean every single week. One gallon of water is not wasteful when it comes to making sure to not get 'any' bacteria including salmonella, botulism, etc. that easily could be contaminating those bags. (07/17/2010)
If you are using reusable bags for groceries (good for you) machine wash them frequently. Simply put them in with your regular laundry. Meat and vegetable juices, left to breed bacteria, in the hot trunks of our cars can make us SICK. We have learned to be extremely careful when using raw meats etc. in our kitchens, this carries over to our grocery bags.
By susan cantin from Ontario, Canada