Wash all reusable bags regularly: Here’s how
the fabric. Skip the dryer and let the pack air dry so that it won’t shrink. Lunch bags and boxes Check the care label to see if the bag can be machine-washed. Many can withstand a mild detergent and the gentle cycle of a machine. Otherwise, mild dish soap and water can be used to hand wash the bag. Like the backpack, let these bags or boxes air dry for best results, says the cleaning resource Clean My Space. Sprinkle baking soda inside of bags or boxes as a natural deodorizer, if necessary. Clothing, linens and even curtains may get their regular rotation through the laundry room, helping such items to remain clean and fresh. But other items relied on regularly may never make it to the washing machine to get a healthy helping of suds, even though they probably should. Reusable shopping bags An eco-friendly alternative to plastic or paper bags from the store, reusable totes can dramatically reduce waste that ends up in landfills and waterways. These bags routinely come in contact with fresh and frozen foods, and bacteria, yeast and mold may eventually grow on the surfaces of the bags. Wash the bags after each use and store them in a place where they are not susceptible to mold growth. Such is the case for backpacks, lunch sacks and reusable shopping totes. These items endure substantial wear and tear, and may be in need of a good wash. Backpacks Backpacks can get grimy fast. Designed to be worn on the back, backpacks are often tossed onto the floor or shoved into dirty lockers. As a result, backpacks may be covered in dirt, pen stains, food spills, and bacteria, necessitating a thorough cleaning. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says cloth reusable bags should be washed in a washing machine using laundry detergent and dried in the dryer or air-dried. Plastic-lined reusable bags should be scrubbed using hot water and soap and air-dried. Dry bags completely before storing. Because backpacks have all sorts of pockets, straps and zippers, some people find handwashing to be an easier way to prevent damage during washing. Use a vacuum nozzle to clean out crumbs and other debris. Dip a sponge or cloth into sudsy water and use it to clean the interior. A scrub brush can scour the outside. Rinse and hang upside down to dry, suggests Good Housekeeping. Use separate bags for raw meats, seafood and produce. Label these bags to avoid confusion. Reusable bags should not be stored in dark, warm and humid environments that can promote bacteria growth. Keep them in cool, dry areas — not in the trunk of a car — for best results. For those who want to put the pack into the washing machine, first place the backpack inside of a laundry bag or pillowcase that can be closed. This will prevent the pack from getting caught in the machine’s agitator or stretching out
Learn more about bag cleaning at www.cleaninginstitute.org.