Plastic Bag Washing Club — Earth Day 2016

by Dorothy Reinhold on April 21, 2016

Print This Post Print This Post Join my Plastic Bag Washing Club for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this year in 2020! We simply reuse sturdy zipper-top plastic bags many times over to reduce our carbon footprint.

Join my Plastic Bag Washing Club for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this year in 2020! All you have to do is wash and reuse plastic bags. 

Earth Day is upon us April 22 — the 50th anniversary this year in 2020 — so it’s time to induct new members into my Plastic Bag Washing Club.

I’ve  found that I’m not alone in my kitchen recycling behavior that has me washing out sturdy zipper-top plastic bags when I use them. Although I try not to use these bags too often, when I do use one, I wash it and let it dry in my kitchen garden window. On a busy cooking day, or when I am using up a lot of leftovers, I might have 4-5 bags drying at any given time. I find that I can use a bag many, many times over if I simply wash it out after use and leave it to dry.

A reused bag is a well loved bag.

Long ago my husband had me convinced it was quirky behavior, but it turns out there are LOTS of fellow bag-washers. So many, in fact, that I have created the Plastic Bag Washing Club. This follows the 2011 post when I first confessed my behavior and invited others to let me know if I was truly a freakshow, or if it is was more common than it seemed.

Call for members

If you are naturally in the Plastic Bag Washing Club (you know it if you are), please let me know so we all don’t feel so odd. Send me a photo ( of your plastic bags drying in your kitchen (or whevever you dry them), and I will post it, and make you an honorary member! Please join us, and see how others are doing it…

Plastic Bag Washing Club 2016

Let’s visit a few kitchens so we can see how others do it.
Plastic Bag Washing Club on -- Gerry Doyle hangs the bags outside in San Fran BayOn nice days, Gerry Doyle hangs them on the outside clothesline at her house in the San Francisco Bay area. Let’s give her extra points for using a “solar dryer.”

Plastic Bag Washing Club on -- Patricia Conte from Grab a PlatePatricia Conte of the blog Grab a Plate  employs her dish drainer to great effect.

Christina Conte from Christina's Cucina turns bags inside out

Christina Conte of the blog Christina’s Cucina (no relation to Patricia, above!), jokes about her “high tech” system of turning the bags inside out and setting them on the drying mat with the other dishes. Simple is good, in my book.

Plastic Bag Washing Club 2015

Plastic Bag Washing Club members Robert and Carol Frank | www.ShockinglyDelicious.comRobert and Carol Frank of Washington state use their (mostly unused) dishwasher as a handy drying rack. They only run the dishwasher once a week, so the bags have a convenient place to air out and dry.
Plastic Bag Washing Club member Cheryl Newton | www.ShockinglyDelicious.comCheryl Newton of Clearfield, Utah, who calls herself a “civilian with a hopeless recipe addiction,” hangs her bags on knife handles to dry. “If they’re the stiffer freezer bags, sometimes I’ll just set them, open as much as possible, on a towel. I hope your roundup encourages more people to reuse their plastic bags!”
Plastic Bag Washing Club member Denise Vivaldo | www.ShockinglyDelicious.comDenise Vivaldo, renowned food stylist, recipe developer and owner of the Denise Vivaldo Group in Los Angeles, washes her bags out with soapy hot water and hangs them to dry on a bottle, in this case San Pellegrino water (how fancy, Denise!). She reuses those that have had bread or vegetables in them, but discards any that have had raw protein (such as meat, chicken or fish), for obvious food safety reasons.
Plastic Bag Washing Club member Kristine Wyatt | www.ShockinglyDelicious.comKristine Wyatt of Pacific Palisades, Calif., washes out not only her plastic bags (which she dries on a bottle), but also her foil, which she then stacks to use again. Bonus points, Kristine!

Plastic Bag Washing Club 2011

Plastic Bag Washing Club member Rustic Garden Bistro | www.ShockinglyDelicious.comKim from Orange County, Calif. perches hers atop her stack of hand-washables drying in the sink. That’s a lotta pots and pans! Dinner must have been great!

Plastic Bag Washing Club member Lori Valesko | www.ShockinglyDelicious.comLori from Long Beach, Calif. also favors the dish stacking method of drying. She just finished washing up after making a pot of Crock-Pot chili. I’m sensing a colander theme here.

Plastic Bag Washing Club member Rashmi of Yumkid |

Rashmi is in the club! Little kids in the house…lotta sippy cups. (Where’s your colander, girl?)

Plastic Bag Washing Club member Kate Woods |

Kate in Australia has a little bucket full of tape and pens and “stuff” beside the sink, and drapes bags to dry them. She even saves plastic wrap (Glad Wrap).

Plastic Bag Washing Club member Betsy Lombard |

Fine artist Betsy from in Nevada City, Calif. simply dries them in the corner. Nuthin’ fancy needed! But…look below for her extra tweak…

Plastic Bag Washing Club member Betsy Lombard |

Now this, my friends, is a delux plastic bag holder, open at both ends with elastic at the top and the bottom, sort of like an air sock. Bags at the ready! Betsy’s husband’s Tennessee grandmother made it for her, and they call it…get this…a “pecker warmer.” I’ll wait for a second while you absorb that. Are you laughing? Because I am sophomoric, I will suggest an alternative alliterative name — how about “wienie warmer?”

Plastic Bag Washing Club member Jodie Eyeberg |

Jodie from Colorado Springs, CO turns them inside out to clean, and uses anything she has — including her faucet — to stand them up.
Plastic Bag Washing Club member Cassy Cohen Muronaka |
Cassy Cohen Muronaka will wash out zipper-top bags on occasion, but ALWAYS washes out her FoodSaver vacuum sealer bags! “I love my vacuum sealer, and waved goodbye to frostburn the day I bought it,” she says.

Join the club!

Don’t forget: If you are like us and wash and reuse your plastic bags, please shoot s snapshot of your system. Send me a photo ( of your plastic bags drying in your kitchen (or whevever you dry them), and I will post it, and make you an honorary member of the Plastic Bag Washing Club!

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Krista April 23, 2016 at 7:04 am

Great ways to show everyone how to reuse! Love it!


Sabrina April 23, 2016 at 1:10 am

It’s wasteful and harmful to the environment to throw away a perfectly re-usable bag! Thanks for the tip!


Nutmeg Nanny April 22, 2016 at 8:14 pm

Yes, we totally re-use and wash our bags!


Katerina @ Diethood April 22, 2016 at 1:56 pm

I do it, too!! I also reuse aluminum foil and whatever else I can find. 😀


Meg @ With Salt and Wit April 22, 2016 at 1:53 pm

What a great post! Very smart way to be more eco-friendly!


Jennifer A Stewart April 22, 2016 at 12:52 pm

I never heard of such until I saw my mother in law doing it. I started washing them when they have things like chips and pretzels and the like. For other foods I can’t bring myself to do it. Scared of the bacteria. Like washing water bottles and refilling… Great article! I do try and recycle when I can.


Justine | Cooking and Beer April 22, 2016 at 10:27 am

Thank you so much for sharing this with us! It is so important to reuse!


Patricia @ Grab a Plate April 22, 2016 at 7:14 am

Love being a member of this club!! I cringe every time I think of just tossing one of those plastic bags that hasn’t been used more than once. Hope this encourages others to join in, too!


Dorothy Reinhold April 22, 2016 at 5:25 pm

I adore your “hang ’em on a handle” system!


Ashlyn @ Belle of the Kitchen April 22, 2016 at 12:22 am

This is so awesome! I really enjoyed looking at all the photos you shared! I really need to do this more. I know it would be better for the environment and I also wouldn’t need to buy them as much! Great club! 🙂


Christina | Christina's Cucina April 21, 2016 at 9:17 pm

This is hilarious and I LOVE it! I feel like I’m such good company! I had no idea so many others did this! I think Patricia and I ARE related! I’m with Denise; I don’t reuse bags that meat has been in, but I rarely put meat in plastic because I know I’ll have to just throw it away after one use! 🙁 Thanks for doing this, Dorothy. So glad to see so many others on board! Yay!


Dorothy Reinhold April 22, 2016 at 5:27 pm

Right Christina. Absolutely no re-use after meat or proteins or marinades. Only re-use for “clean” things. Pretzels. Bread. Carrot sticks. At least IMHO.


Liz April 21, 2016 at 6:33 pm

I wash my bags too. Why be wasteful. Most of them are very clean. I’ll try the foil too because it’s expensive and sometimes not dirty at all. Good ideas.


Shelley @ Two Healthy Kitchens April 21, 2016 at 3:52 pm

This is such a smart idea! We definitely go through a lot of plastic bags at our house and I’m always looking for ways to be more eco-friendly, especially in the kitchen! 😀


Dorothy Reinhold April 21, 2016 at 5:55 pm

It’s a bit shocking how many plastic bags the average family uses, isn’t it?


Terry Oliver April 21, 2016 at 2:08 pm

Oh Please! I have been reusing bags for years! And clear wrap. And foil. I hate wasting stuff like this!!!!


Dorothy Reinhold April 21, 2016 at 5:57 pm

Yep, me too. I have one bag that I am proud to say has lasted 10 years (I keep toasted nuts in it, in the refrig). I wasn’t meaning to say this was a brand new idea. I simply decided to write about my longtime habit, in hopes that others would be interested.


Michelle @ The Complete Savorist April 21, 2016 at 1:23 pm

I can relate to this post. The pictures crack me up. We do what we can for our Mother Earth.


Dorothy Reinhold April 21, 2016 at 5:58 pm

I really appreciate how each person’s “system” is different! Use what works for YOU, right?


Kacey @ The Cookie Writer April 21, 2016 at 8:46 am

Dorothy, I am loving this! My husband thought I was crazy when I spoke about reusing bags but I am so going to prove him wrong! I am upset that my clothes line is broken but I love all the alternatives here 🙂


Dorothy Reinhold April 21, 2016 at 5:59 pm

You show him all the options, and tell him you are most certainly NOT crazy!


Lisa | Garlic and Zest April 21, 2016 at 8:16 am

I love all the genius ways people use to dry their plastic bags!


Dorothy Reinhold April 21, 2016 at 8:22 am

I know, right? People are so clever. The one that always cracks me up in from Robert Frank, who dries his in his otherwise unused dishwasher. Too funny!


Dee Dee (My Midlife Kitchen) April 21, 2016 at 8:00 am

I grew up in a household that always washed plastic bags and reused a couple times until someone poked a hole in one, or it tore. Such a wonderful way to keep these out of landfills, and save some money!


Florian @ContentednessCooknig April 21, 2016 at 7:59 am

Thanks for sharing this with us!


Heather Kinnaird April 21, 2016 at 7:44 am

I have been re-using my bags for YEARS, and everyone always makes fun of me:) glad to see I’m not alone


Dorothy Reinhold April 21, 2016 at 8:19 am

Welcome to the club Heather. We are one big family!


Angela April 21, 2016 at 7:30 am

This is something my grandma always taught me! Happy Earth Day!!


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