Sunday, January 17, 2010

Reusable Grocery Bags

Here's a important tip for those of us being environmentally conscience and using the reusable bags. These bags get dirty. And I don't mean on the outside. I mean on the inside! They have tested some of these bags and found traces of nasty bacteria like salmonella. Yikes! Most people will wash out their bags if they spill something in them but even if you are keeping your bags clean, you should make sure you do a proper washing of them regularly.

I don't mean you need to wash them every week. That would defeat the purpose of an 'environmentally friendly bag' if you used a lot of water (a non-renewable resource) and energy to clean them all the time. But I do recommend washing the cloth ones in the machine and thoroughly soaking the plastic ones in a sink of hot soapy water ever couple of months. Be sure to wash out any spills immediately. When buying meats or fish, wrap them in plastic before putting them in the bag. That plastic can then be put in your recycling bag when you get home and you'll still be a good little environmental doobie.

My cloth bags said to wash them by hand and hang to dry but really that's not going to kill the bacteria. I did a full load in a hot wash with a cold rinse and then dried them in the dryer. The logo on the front of some of them started to peel but a proper wash is necessary. If you don't use a good bit of hot water you won't kill the bacteria. The heat from the dryer also gives the bacteria a run for it's money. Hanging the cloth bags to dry only provides an environment for any bacteria or mould to flourish.

After soaking the plastic bags in hot soapy water, I turn them inside out and dry them with a towel then place them in the sun. Do it right when you do it and you shouldn't have to wash them too often. I'll keep you posted if I hear of any more findings.

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