If you have a big stash of empty grocery bags collecting dust, check out these practical ways you can reuse them.
After my go-to grocery stores temporarily banned the use of reusable bags early in the pandemic, I started rebuilding my previously emptied collection of plastic bags. And since I’m not one to let things just sit around and collect dust (or take up my valuable storage space), I recently decided it was high time I figured out how to use them.
In case you’re in a similar situation of sitting on a pile of empty grocery bags, I thought I’d share the uses I came across during my search with you today. These tips represent all sorts of ways you can put your stash of plastic bags to good use.
Bonus Tip: Wash Your Plastic Bags
- Regardless of how exactly you plan to reuse your plastic grocery bags, it’s not a bad idea to wash them first. It’s quick and easy to do, and it’s bound to give you some peace of mind that your bags aren’t covered in dirt or bacteria.
- To wash your grocery bags, submerge them in a sink full of hot, soapy water.
- Swish the bags around with your hands and allow them to soak there for a few minutes.
- When you’re ready to rinse, drain the sink and then rinse each bag with clean water.
- Hang the bags upside down and allow them to air dry completely before using.
Note: If you have any bags that are particularly grimy or have held raw meat, you’re better off tossing them out of an abundance of caution. Better safe than sorry!
13 Practical Ways To Reuse Plastic Bags
1. Keep Your Hands Clean
Pull a plastic bag over each hand to use them as a pair of makeshift gloves! It’s a great way to keep your hands clean when handling messy foods, or when cleaning up messes like vomit, sticky crafts, etc.
2. Clean Your Shower Head
Use a plastic bag and some distilled white vinegar to clean your shower head! Fill the bag with vinegar and use a rubber band to secure it around your shower head. Let it soak for an hour or so to allow the vinegar to dissolve mineral deposits and cut through soap scum.
3. Cover Your Plunger
Don’t have a stand or cover for your toilet plunger? Cover the rubber end with a plastic bag to contain germs and grime!
4. Line A Wastebasket
Grocery store bags are just the right size to use as liners in small wastebaskets. Put a few extra bags in the bottom of the empty wastebasket before lining it with another bag, and that way you’ll have a replacement ready to go the next time you empty it!
5. Keep The Shape Of Purses & Shoes
Before you put shoes or handbags into storage, stuff a few plastic bags inside them. The bags will help your shoes or purses retain their shape while they’re in storage so they don’t wind up misshapen or lumpy.
6. Contain Trash In The Car
Tie an empty grocery sack to the back of your headrest on long car rides or road trips. It’s the perfect makeshift trash can for empty wrappers and drink bottles, since you can throw the whole thing away at the next rest stop!
7. Use As “Barf Bags” For Carsick Passengers
Some people may feel a little nauseous in the car, while others may get truly carsick! Prepare for the worst by keeping a few empty plastic bags in your car. That way, you’ll always have a “barf bag” handy should you ever find yourself with a vomiting passenger.
8. Keep Mirrors & Wipers Ice-Free
For those who park their cars on the street or in uncovered spots, it’s all too common to wake up to frozen side mirrors and windshield wipers during the winter. So when the forecast calls for overnight snow, cover your wipers and side mirrors with plastic bags. The bags will keep them free of ice and snow and make the next morning’s commute a little easier!
9. Cover Muddy Shoes
To avoid tracking mud or slush into your car when the weather’s bad, keep a stash of plastic bags in the car. Slip one bag over each shoe before stepping into the car to keep your floor mats clean!
10. Wrap Plant & Plant Starts
With as much plant shopping as I did this past summer, I know just how much dirt winds up in your trunk after unloading a good plant haul! So that’s why I’ve started keeping a stash of plastic bags in my car, so I can wrap the bottoms of any plants and plant starts to keep dirt out of my car. 🙂
11. Wrap Shoes In Luggage
When packing for a trip, wrap each pair of shoes you’re bringing in a grocery bag before putting them in your suitcase. The bag will prevent dirty soles from messing up your clean clothes, AND prevent your other items from scuffing up your shoes.
12. Pick Up After Your Dog
One great way to reuse plastic bags is to pick up after your dog on walks. (Just make sure to toss it into a trash can afterward, since they aren’t biodegradable—and it’s just good manners!)
13. Prevent Painting Tools From Drying
Working on a painting project? Wrap a plastic bag tightly around your brushes or paint rollers and wrap a rubber band around the bottom to secure it. This will keep the paint wet for as long as a full day so you can pick up right where you left off tomorrow.
What’s your favorite way to reuse plastic bags?