Coronavirus: How to clean reusable plastic bags the right way

Consumer Reports

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)—The coronavirus pandemic is making simple tasks like grocery shopping a little more stressful. If you opt for reusable cloth or plastic bags, it’s more important than ever to keep them clean.

Maybe you’ve never given it a second thought, but just think about how often those reusable grocery bags get used. Now think about how often they get cleaned.

“I guess now, think about that, especially with the virus stuff going around. Definitely a thought. Disinfect it or something like that,” says Consumer Reports Sana Mujahid.

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. Bacteria and viruses like E. coli, Salmonella and Norovirus can contaminate the bags and that could make you sick,” says Mujahid.

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. And I use reusable plastic bags for items that can leak, like milk, meat, poultry and frozen goods,” says Mujahid.

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. For the reusable plastic bags, wipe them down with a disinfecting wipe or wash them in warm soapy water. You’ll want to do this preferably after each use, and especially when bringing meat home,” says Mujahid.

Finally, make sure to air-dry reusable plastic bags before using them again. And rotate your reusable bags to help them last longer.

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