How to Wash and Dry Reusable Food Storage Bags

Reusable food storage bags are a great way to reduce plastic waste and save money. However, caring for them properly is important for longevity and food safety. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to wash and dry reusable food storage bags.


Reusable food storage bags are typically made from food-safe materials like silicone, cotton, or plastic-derived fabrics. They provide an airtight seal and can be used repeatedly if cared for properly. Washing and drying them thoroughly after each use removes food residues, bacteria, odors, and stains. This keeps them clean and safe for continued use. Following the manufacturer’s care instructions is key.

Supplies Needed

  • Reusable food storage bags
  • Dish soap or mild detergent
  • Water
  • Clean towel or drying rack
  • Soft-bristle brush (optional)

Washing Steps

1. Rinse and Empty Completely

Rinse the bags thoroughly under running water to remove any food debris. Make sure to empty them completely by shaking out any remaining particles. Turn them inside-out if needed.

2. Hand Wash with Soap and Water

Fill the sink or a large bowl with warm water and add a small amount of mild detergent or dish soap. Submerge the bags and wash thoroughly by hand using a soft brush or sponge. Scrub the interior and exterior surfaces gently to remove stains and odors.

Pay extra attention to seams and corners where food can collect. Avoid harsh scrubbing that can damage the material. Silicone bags can withstand more vigorous scrubbing.

3. Rinse Thoroughly

Once washed, rinse the bags very well under running water. Repeat rinsing until all soap residue is removed. This prevents retaining any odors or tastes.

Shake excess water from the bags. For plastic-derived bags, hang them to air dry with openings uncovered.

4. Sanitize (Optional)

For extra disinfecting, reusable bags can be sanitized occasionally in boiling water or a diluted bleach solution.

Check the manufacturer’s instructions first. Silicone bags can be boiled for 5-10 minutes. Plastic-derived bags can be soaked in 1 teaspoon bleach per 1 quart of water for 1 minute, then rinsed very well.

This step kills any remaining germs for safe reuse. It’s most useful after washing bags used for raw meats.

5. Air Dry

Lay the bags out flat or hang them open-ended from drying racks or towel bars. Allow them to air dry completely before reuse.

Plastic-derived bags should be dried with openings uncovered for ventilation. Silicone can be air-dried inside-out.

Avoid drying in direct sunlight, which can degrade materials over time. Make sure no moisture is left inside before reusing.

Drying Tips

  • Allow ample drying time, usually several hours or overnight
  • Speed up drying using a fan directed at bags
  • Stuff clean towels inside to help absorb moisture
  • Avoid drying on radiators or heaters which may damage material
  • Store completely dry to prevent mold growth

Stain Removal

For stubborn stains, try soaking in warm water with baking soda or diluted vinegar before washing. Avoid harsh bleach or chemical cleaners which can degrade reusable bag materials over time. A bleach alternative like hydrogen peroxide may also help lift stains.


Once completely dry, reusable bags can be folded or rolled up for convenient storage. Keep them in a clean, dry place until next use.

Added Food Safety Tips

  • Discard bags that are heavily stained, worn out, or have tears – these are harder to get fully clean
  • Avoid cross-contamination by designating certain bags for raw meats only
  • Don’t overfill bags, leave space at top for expansion when freezing
  • Label contents and dates for easy identification
  • Never reuse bags for other purposes like toiletries or cosmetics


With the proper care, reusable food storage bags can be washed, dried, and reused hundreds of times while remaining hygienic and leak-proof. Taking a few minutes to hand wash and air dry them after each use will extend their lifespan and keep food fresh. Following these best practices for washing, drying, and storing reusable bags will maximize their convenience and safety. Investing in high-quality bags and taking good care of them will save money and cut down on plastic waste over time.