The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) is highlighting updated information on proper reusable bag use and cleaning as more Americans bring their own bags to the store. This comes at a time when eight states have banned disposable bags and some local jurisdictions are charging a fee for their use, encouraging the use of reusable bags.

study from the University of Arizona found that of individuals interviewed who used reusable bags, only 3% of them cleaned their bags on a regular basis and just 25% used separate bags for meats and vegetables. Proper bag care is needed to help prevent bacteria and mold from growing and cross-contaminating food. In addition, frequently-touched items like reusable bags should be cleaned regularly to help prevent the spread of illness.

For proper bag use, separate bags should be used for raw meats, seafood, produce and non-food items. They should not be left in the car trunk and instead stored somewhere cool and dry at home. Bags should be cleaned after every use. Cleaning instructions depend on the fabric:

  • Woven or Nonwoven Polypropylene – Machine wash (gentle cycle with soap and cold water) or hand wash in soap and water. Line dry. Nylon or polyester – Hand wash in warm water and soap. Turn inside out and line dry.
  • Bamboo or hemp – Hand or machine wash (gentle cycle) with mild laundry detergent. Machine or line dry.
  • Cotton – Machine wash with hot water and laundry detergent. Machine or line dry.
  • Insulated bags – Hand wash in warm water and soap or wipe with disinfecting or anti-bacterial wipes, especially along seams. Line dry.

“With proper care, reusable bags can be a sustainable and safe option to use while shopping,” said Brian Sansoni, ACI Senior Vice President of Communications. “However, consumers need to be contentious about washing their bags, especially during times of heightened need for good hygiene practices, like cold and flu season.”

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