Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

One Quick Tip: Don’t Wash and Reuse Zippered Bags

April 17th, 2013 · 25 Comments · Green Living, Tips

You all know I like to be “green,” right?

I even offered two hundred ways to reuse stuff instead of throwing it away last week at Green Your Way.

So am I really suggesting that you stop an eco-friendly habit that you probably already have, if you’re a penny pincher and earth-lover like me?

Don’t worry.

Although I nearly lost my marbles after doing last year’s food budget, I haven’t gone off the deep end.

I still reuse zippered bags, much to my husband’s chagrin.

Reuse Zippered Bags but Save on Dishes

He’s not a huge fan of dishes, and washing those bags really irks him.

“Do you think we make enough money now that we can stop washing these bags, hon?” he asked recently.

“It’s not just about saving money, honey, it’s about reducing our waste.”

Poor guy.

I do take some measures to also reduce the number of times we have to wash the zippered bags, even when we use them for food though.

That’s today’s One Quick Tip (which is really 3 tips, I can’t help it!!!).

You can follow the One Quick Tip pin board so you don’t have to read the longest posts in the world but still keep up on the tips, things that speed your day along, increase nutrition in the kitchen, or make life more manageable in some way.

When You Don’t Want to Wash Another Zippered Bag…

  1. Reuse for the same food without washing; just store in the fridge or freezer and remember it’s there (I’ve done this forever).
  2. Just rinse and air dry! Do you really need soap to get off the bread crumbs or carrot stick residue? If it’s not greasy or sticky, skip dunking it in the dishwater.
  3. Save in a special place for food-but-not-food usage, such as opened cheese, where it’s really the packaging that will be touching the plastic bag, not so much the food. I reuse these without washing until they actually get food on them. Inside your KitchenAid mixer bowl or tucked vertically along the wall of a cupboard are two possible places I’ve utilized in my own kitchen.

And here’s how we air dry them without them getting in the way in the dish dry rack:

how to dry ziploc zippered bags

Nothing wrong with putting something clean and wet on your utensil canister, which are clean too and will dry quickly once you remove the bags!

Oops. That was a fourth tip. I stink at writing short posts!

This One Quick Tip series is an attempt to write a super short, quickly helpful post that you can pin and share and use right away in your kitchen (or sometimes the rest of the house).

Now you can make a pin board for tips and share this advice with the world.

What do you think? Do you reuse plastic zippered bags?

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Other Quick Tip Posts:

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Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money. If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

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25 Comments so far ↓

  • Becky

    Haha! I just sat down at the computer after finishing the dishes for the night, and my utensil basket looks much like yours – with zippered bags hanging off them! Love the post!

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  • Rebecca C

    i saw one of those metal wire file folder holders that sit on top of a desk. i thought about buying it and putting a bag over each divider to hold it open and let it dry. it was 99cents at the thrift store. I did decide against it ultimately because I didn’t want to spare counter/cabinent space, but I still think it’s a good idea.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Rebecca,
    I agree! Great repurposing idea..but yes, tough to have “one more thing” hanging around… :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jessica

    I made a “clothes line”, connected to either end of my cabinets, over my sink and hang my washed bags from there. No drippy mess on the counters and no cluttered counter.

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  • casey

    i actually have a ziploc drying rack that was made for my grandmother years ago. her brother in law made it in his woodshop. I think it has 6 spots on it, but he carved it to look like a pot of flowers and then you just hang one bag on each flower.

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  • Rebecca

    If you have an old baby bottle drying rack or find one at goodwill, they are perfect for baggies. Ours is still in rotation even though we have been done with bottles for 3 years.

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  • Naomi

    I found a baby bottle drying rack at goodwill and it is perfect for drying a few bags, although I really don’t have spare counter space for it. My most-used method is a little round clothes-drying hanger that has clips on it, like you’d use to hang your small clothing items (socks, hosiery, undies, etc.). It has a hook at the top and I have it hanging from the ceiling over my sink and I clip bags to it. Also, I turn my bags inside-out, fill with water to give them some body, and they’re easy to wash down with soapy water. Then I rinse and leave them inside-out to hang and air-dry. If the inside doesn’t get perfectly dry, at least the outside does, which is actually the inside of the bag that actually touches food. After drying, I turn them back to outside-out and just dab at any remaining moisture and store. Usually there’s just a little at the corner areas, depending on how long they’ve hung to dry. I can leave them as long as I need to because they’re hanging out of the way. Well, I do have an old house with an old kitchen and it’s pretty much just functional, no need to try to make it pretty. I’m talking extension cords running everywhere, rigged task lighting, bedroom chests of drawers for storage (lack of existing kitchen storage), etc. It’s funky, but it works! It’s a plus that the hanger is bright multi-colored so adds some color to the space. I know, it’s more information than you bargained for, but there it is. And I have been doing just exactly what you did to avoid so much bag washing. It IS kind of a pain. :)

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  • Julie

    Shocked that you are using plastic bags. Inspired by you, we stopped buying them ages ago and have everything (from carrot sticks to the hunks of cheese) in glass or metal containers. It takes up more space, but I am very happy to not have those reused bags cluttering up my kitchen.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Julie,
    I’d love to live the ideal of “no plastic,” I really would -and I am certain we use a micro-percentage of the number of bags the average school-going American family uses – but for some purposes, I just need the collapsability. I can’t fit one more thing in my small chest freezer, for example, and my vegetable drawer often requires a bit of “compression” to make it close. ;)

    I’m so happy you were inspired not to buy them anymore! Kudos to you! :) Katie

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  • Lesa W

    May I add my own tip? Whenever I wash these bags, I turn them inside out to dry. The inside part never seemed to get completely dry – at least as quickly as I wanted it to. Now if any part is still damp it’s on the outside of the bag which is less of a problem for me.

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  • 'Becca

    Whew! I’m so glad you aren’t announcing some dire risk of reusing bags!! I, too, reuse them but don’t wash them unless it’s really necessary. I dry them on the utensils, too.

    I store my empty bags in cardboard tubes in a drawer–thanks to an idea I read on another blog. I didn’t have any long, wide tubes, but my mother-out-law gave me a bunch of wide ones from her crochet thread, and I taped pairs of them together to make longer tubes. They are labeled “small ziptop” “large ziptop” and “large plain” and this helps me find the kind of bag I need.

    I agree with your reply to Julie–there are places, like in the freezer, where I just don’t have space to use jars, so I use plastic bags. But I haven’t bought any in years!

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  • Vicki B.

    That’s right…..just reuse for the same food! I do this with our frozen bananas. I buy all the ‘red tape’ bananas from the store(the discounted, not so yellow ones) and when I get home I peel, break in half and freeze them in a freezer bag to use in smoothies and homemade banana bread oatmeal. I have two bags for this purpose and when one bag is empty I leave it in the freezer to use when I get some more ripe bananas.

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  • Renee

    I am so glad to see that my kitchen utensil holder is not the only one covered in drying bags! I use them in my kids lunches, and they always return them for the next day. Since I freeze so many fruits and veggies from the garden in bags in the summer, we are adding to our collection all winter. And this year, the winter here in Canada is so much longer than normal!

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  • Erica

    Love it! Very practical post – I’ve got sooo many zip bags drying as I write this.

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  • Jennifer F

    I reuse plastic bags, too, but I never wash them in hot water. This is because all plastics, but especially 1, 2, and 4 (and most of these bags are made of low-density polyethylene, no. 4 plastic) leach out chemicals (which is what they’re made of!) when exposed to heat, and I think the risk is especially great when we’re talking about very thin, large surface area plastic. If you are concerned about hormone disruption, I would strongly advise against washing in anything but cool water.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Jennifer,
    Hmm, I knew that hot liquids could cause leaching problems, but I never really considered whether washing in hot could then impact the next food put in the bags…do you think? Or is it just on contact? I wonder if there are any sources to confirm this. Not disagreeing, just curious. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • A Baggie Here, a Baggie There (& How to Store Toys that Drive You Nuts!) | Green Your Way

    [...] I don’t know about you, but I do reuse plastic zippered bags. I don’t use them often at all, but in my packed fridge and freezer, I often need something collapsible that takes up as little space as possible. So I do use plastic, and I do wash and reuse them (but sometimes I skip a step). [...]

  • Christina McCullough

    I use empty wine bottles to dry my bags.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • bobbi

    haha your kitchen looks like our kitchen!!! lol. good tips.

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  • Kay D

    I thought I was the only one doing this. It’s nice to know other people think like I do.

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  • Rose

    AHHH I now feel better. Not just because I am not alone with draping my bags to dry but because others are reusing them too. I have gotten bad because I keep adding to the collection. I use the bread bag (usually just a one time use) and cereal bags too. I have enjoyed reading a lot of your tips on how to conceal (hiding them in my mixer bowl) I mean just replacing it with the food that was initially in there or not worrying about washing them if the food didn’t touch it . I appreciate when people point out the obvious to me.

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  • Karen

    I turn the baggies inside out and put them in the dishwasher. I dry them inside out as well.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rosemary

    I made my own plastic bag drying rack by filling a quart mason jar with egg shells and sticking chopsticks in there.

    http://instagram.com/p/OEYkNfOkA7/

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Serena

    Those are all great ideas that I like to use. A cousin of mine uses madrone branches, any branch-y branch will work, and makes a plastic bag tree. It works really great and adds a natural touch to the kitchen area. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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