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Thursday, February 16, 2023

How do you store previously-used Ziploc bags?

I was washing zippered sandwich and snack bags the other day and wondering how others handle these -- if they save and reuse, how they wash, but especially how they store these previously-used bags.

We use these zippered bags for so many food items. They're just the right size when our leftovers and foods that need a covering are on the small side, like a few biscuits or cookies or an individual custard cup of my rice pudding. I find the bags to be easier to wash and dry than sheets of plastic wrap (which we also wash and dry until no longer usable). The bags will stand up on the tines of a rack to dry and are sturdy enough to last for many uses. Some of these bags are many years old. And they're in a variety of sizes. The original boxes are now long gone. So I had to come up with an organized way to store them for reuse so that my family members will actually reuse them.

After the bags are washed and have thoroughly dried, I sort them according to size and thickness (sandwich/snack vs. freezer bags). I roll up these piles and secure with a rubber band. I have an old roll and cracker basket that is long and narrow. And that's where I store the piles of rolled up bags. 

My family knows to check the basket first before getting out a new bag. 

When a bag is dirtied, it's stuffed into a tall container next to the kitchen sink. When that container is overflowing with bags, I know it's time to wash them all in a sink of hot soapy water. I wash and dry them all inside out, so the surface that will touch food is the cleanest part.

I know we've saved more than just a few dollars by washing and reusing Ziploc bags, as we've been doing this for decades, now.

What's your method?


  1. My method is to wash any bags right along with my dirty dishes. Wash with soapy water and rinse well. To dry, I put them over any utensil in the utensil turntable near my sink. That allows them to dry what ever moisture is remaining inside and outside the bag. I store them by rolling them up and putting right back in the appropriate sized box that they came from. so all gallon sized gets rolled up and put back in the gallon sized box, etc. Some may disagree when I say I also wash and dry bags that contained meat. It gets washed in hot sudsy water so it's no different than washing another container that held raw meat. I only throw bags away when the sides near the zipper start to break therefore no longer making a proper seal. I also throw them away if the bag itself has a rip or tear. There are times that I always use a new bag and that is for givng things to others as a gift. Baked goods often get a new bag as well most of the time.

    I also save potato chip bags, bread bags, vegetable bags, cat food bags, water softener salt bags, cereal bags and anything else for disposing of cat poop, greasy items, meat bones or anything else that might leak.


    1. Hi Alice,
      I just threw away a bunch of chip and cereal bags. I should have saved them for yucky stuff. I do sometimes use cereal bags to line waste paper baskets in bathrooms. They're just the right size.

  2. I am not nearly as organized as you and Alice are. Like Alice, I wash mine along with the dirty dishes and I drape them over the top of the dishes in the dishrack to dry. I turn them inside out after they dry on one side, and if I happen to get a sunny day, I position them so as to be in the sun to help them dry faster. I store them in a larger bag but I don't sort them out according to size. I use a beeswax sheet for covering items to cut down on my use of saran wrap--I don't love it, but it's good for when I make bar cookies and store them in the pan that I baked them in, for instance. I think I remember Kristen from TheFrugalGirl mentioning a different item she uses for that sort of thing--I should look it up, since my beeswax sheets are approaching the end of their lives (even though I'm careful to wash them in cold water, after awhile the wax tends to start to ball up on the sheets and I don't want it to drip into my food.

    My SIL has a contraption in which dowel rods are inserted into a block of wood. She uses this for drying her plastic bags. It would be simple enough for most people to make.

    1. My mother had one of those dowel things. She used it also to dry her rubber gloves.

    2. Hi Kris,
      I've wondered how others liked the beeswax sheets. It seems like you could make something similar with muslin and beeswax for candle making (or an unscented beeswax candle) just by rubbing the wax over and over the muslin until well-coated. I don't know. I'm just thinking out loud.

      I like how simple your SIL's contraption sounds. It does sound like something very easy to make with a drill, a saw, and a long dowel (plus block of wood). In fact, something similar could be made with Tinker Toys.

    3. I've seen online diy directions for the beeswax sheets, if you ever wanted to try them.

  3. You are very neat and organized with your bags. We are not quite as organized here, but it works for us. I am one of those people who throws away a bag that has had raw meat in it. I just feel more comfortable that way. The other bags get washed and then put into a container in the bottom of the pantry. If you want a bag, it may take a few seconds to secure the right size, but it works. We do most of our storage in plastic food containers, so we don't use a lot of plastic bags.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      I think your method sounds like it works well if you don't have a lot of bags. Just wash and reuse fairly soon. They wouldn't become a mess if I had fewer bags. We also try to use plastic containers as much as possible. Easier to wash -- top rack dishwasher. But we still use a bunch of bags weekly.

  4. I have a bottle drying rack, which we use both for drying plastic water bottles and bags. It's not perfect, but works better than what we did before, which was trying to balance them upside down and drape bags open over things. I know you asked about storage, but mostly bags get used, washed, then used again rather than stored.

    1. Hi Cat,
      Excellent idea to get double duty from your rack, both bottles and bags. I love not when I can get more than one use from an item or tool.
      I think if you wash bags soon after using, then you have clean ones available daily and don't need lots of bags which also require some sort of sorting process.

  5. Lili, I have long stored the bags your way, but just recently ended that process. I use bags very rarely; mostly to corral small items that I'm going to donate. Decades ago I decided to eliminate plastic bags from my life, so mostly only had bags collected from leftovers to events at church or family gatherings. I have spent more time sorting and sizing than it was worth to me, so I pitched all of the mismatched stragglers, including box liners that could be oh, so useful. (I hear my Dad's voice telling me how those kinds of items were used during the depression to take sandwiches to school, so it feels wasteful to toss them.) I have limited my stash to snack sized bags in a box and sandwich bags in a box. The sandwich bags are from decades back; not zipper closure, but the kind that fold and tuck into the pocket. Now, after washing a bag, it gets shoved (neatly) back into its box so that there are no free range bags for me to wrangle. It is freeing to have ditched all of those random sized bags that slipped around on each other, were hard to store, and were saved for the "just-in-case" that never came. I'm getting rid of some of my containers, too. I want them all (again, for the "just-in-case"), but have a large enough variety that I forget what I have, and have small sizes that I have to admit that I really don't use. They are just storage space wasters. I can't have things shoved in the back on a shelf: if I can't see it easily, it'll get forgotten and go unused. I'm going to try living with a more limited selection to see how that goes. I have been steadily switching over to glass storage, anyway. I use CorningWare petite casserole dishes, the vintage kind with the plastic lids, to store single servings of lasagna (or some other baked casserole) in the freezer. Large volume liquids (soup) go into clear (Lexan type) 1/2 gallon plastic containers. Leftover rice, vegetable, cole slaw, cookie dough for future use, and single servings of soup go into lidded Pyrex glass bowls that stack well in the fridge or freezer. The leftovers can be heated and eaten from those same glass bowls. Since I need to be able to see leftovers so as not to forget what I have, the clear glass works best for me. All items have been acquired bit by bit at church basement sales or thrift stores, which provide me a great source of entertainment. I like to dig through random boxes and tables at a church, and love the thrill of the hunt at a thrift store, so that has worked for me.


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