Can You Wash Reusable Grocery Bags In The Washing Machine?



Can You Wash Reusable Grocery Bags In The Washing Machine

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Yes, reusable grocery bags can be washed in the washing machine or by hand.

Reusable grocery bags have become a staple for environmentally conscious shoppers, offering an eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastic bags. Over time, these trusty totes can accumulate dirt, spills, and food remnants. So, you may be wondering, can you toss them into the washing machine for a thorough cleaning? The answer is a resounding “Yes.”

In this article, we’ll delve into the dos and don’ts of washing reusable grocery bags and provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to keep them clean and germ-free.

Dos and Don’ts of Wash Reusable Grocery Bags In The Washing Machine


  • Check the Care Label: Before proceeding, check the care label on your reusable grocery bag. It will typically provide specific instructions for cleaning. If it says “machine washable,” you’re good to go.
  • Regular Cleaning: Make it a habit to clean your reusable bags regularly. Frequent washing helps prevent the buildup of bacteria and odors.
  • Use Cold Water: When washing reusable grocery bags, opt for cold water. Hot water can cause the bag to shrink or lose its shape.
  • Mild Detergent: Use a mild detergent to avoid harsh chemicals that might damage the bag or leave residues that can come into contact with your groceries.
  • Gentle Cycle: If you’re using a washing machine, select a gentle cycle with a low spin speed. This minimizes wear and tear on the bag.
  • Inspect Before Use: Always inspect your bag for any holes or damage after washing. This ensures it remains sturdy and safe for carrying groceries.


  • Avoid Bleach: Never use bleach when washing reusable grocery bags. It can weaken the fabric and create harmful fumes.
  • Skip the Dryer: Avoid putting your reusable bags in the dryer, as heat can cause them to warp, melt, or shrink. Air drying is the way to go.
  • Don’t Mix with Clothes: Don’t wash your reusable bags with your regular laundry, especially not with items that produce lint. This can lead to lint buildup on the bags.
  • Ignore Stains: If you notice stains on your bags, don’t ignore them. Promptly treat stains before washing to increase the chances of complete removal.

Now that you know the dos and don’ts, let’s explore the steps to wash reusable grocery bags in the washing machine.

Steps To Wash Reusable Grocery Bags In The Washing Machine:

Step 1

Empty Your Bags: Before washing, make sure your reusable grocery bags are empty. Remove any crumbs, spills, or leftover items.

Step 2

Inspect the Care Label: Check the care label on the bag for specific washing instructions. If it indicates “machine washable,” proceed to the next step.

Step 3

Pre-treat Stains: If you notice any stains, pre-treat them with a stain remover or a mixture of cold water and mild detergent. Allow it to sit for a few minutes.

Step 4

Place in the Machine: Put the bags into the washing machine. It’s a good idea to place them inside a pillowcase or a laundry bag to protect them from getting tangled or damaged.

Step 5

Add Detergent: Pour a small amount of mild detergent into the detergent compartment. Use the recommended amount as per the detergent’s instructions.

Step 6

Select a Gentle Cycle: Choose a gentle cycle with cold water settings. Avoid using bleach or fabric softeners.

Step 7

Start the Machine: Begin the washing cycle and let it run. Once completed, remove the bags promptly to prevent wrinkling.

Step 8

Air Dry: Hang the bags to air dry in a well-ventilated area. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can cause fading.

Alternative Washing Methods For Reusable Grocery Bags:

If you prefer not to use a washing machine, or if your bags don’t have a “machine washable” label, here are alternative methods:

  • Hand Washing: Fill a basin or sink with cold water and add mild detergent. Gently agitate the water and immerse the bags. Hand wash them, paying special attention to any stained areas. Rinse thoroughly and air dry.
  • Soaking: For bags that are not heavily soiled, you can soak them in a mixture of cold water and mild detergent. After soaking for about 30 minutes, rinse and air dry.
  • Steam Cleaning: Use a garment steamer to disinfect and freshen up your bags without water. Hold the steamer a few inches away from the bag’s surface and steam the entire bag.


Can I wash insulated reusable grocery bags in the washing machine?

Answer: Yes, you can wash insulated bags in the washing machine following the same guidelines as non-insulated bags. Just make sure to remove any removable inserts or stiffeners before washing.

How often should I wash my reusable grocery bags?

Answer: Aim to wash them at least once a week, especially if they come into contact with raw meat or other potentially harmful substances. More frequent washing is advisable if you use them frequently.

Can I iron reusable grocery bags to remove wrinkles?

Answer: It’s not recommended to iron reusable bags, as the heat can damage the fabric or any printed designs. Wrinkles should naturally smooth out after air drying.

What should I do if my reusable bags start to fray or tear?

Answer: If the damage is minor, you can mend it with a needle and thread. For significant damage, consider retiring the bag to recycling and replacing it with a new one.

Can I use vinegar to disinfect my reusable grocery bags?

Answer: While vinegar can be a natural disinfectant, it may leave a strong odor on your bags. If you choose to use vinegar, dilute it with water and rinse thoroughly afterward.

Final Words:

Maintaining the cleanliness of your reusable grocery bags is not only good for hygiene but also for the environment. By following the dos and don’ts outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your bags remain in good condition and continue to serve as eco-friendly companions on your shopping trips. Whether you choose to wash them in a washing machine or opt for alternative methods, regular cleaning will keep your reusable bags fresh, safe, and ready-to-carry groceries for years to come.

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