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Consumer Reports: How to properly clean reusable bags

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Posted at 5:58 AM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 09:39:36-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Maybe you’ve never given it a second thought. But think about how often those reusable grocery bags get used. Now think about how often they get cleaned. And coronavirus on the bag isn’t the main thing you need to worry about.

“Some people may not realize, but reusable bags can get pretty dirty," says Sana Mujahid, Consumer Reports. "Bacteria and viruses like E. coli, Salmonella and norovirus can contaminate the bags and that could make you sick.”

The solution is simple: Clean your bags, but the technique depends on the type of bag, fabric or plastic. But first, pick the right bag for what will go inside.

“I tend to use fabric bags for canned goods, fruits and vegetables," says Mujahid. "And I use reusable plastic bags for items that can leak, like milk, meat, poultry and frozen goods.”

You can put the raw meat and poultry in the disposable plastic bags that are still available at grocery stores before you place them in your reusable bag. And keeping either type clean and germ free is quick and easy.

“For fabric bags, you can just toss them in the laundry," says Mujahid. "For the reusable plastic bags, wipe them down with a disinfecting wipe or spray or by washing them in warm soapy water. You’ll want to do this preferably after each use, and especially when bringing meat home.”

Finally, make sure to air-dry reusable plastic bags before using them again.