FCF Q&A: Do you wash & reuse ziplock baggies? Is it worth the savings? What is the best way to do it?

Now that I’ve introduced FCF Q&A, it’s time to start answering questions!

I got an email from Kasey, a lovely reader. Here’s what she said:

Hi Jordan-
I’m a recent follower and had a question you might be able to give advice on. I’m making more freezer meals in ziplock bags and dislike the idea of throwing them away after one use.  Is it cost effective to wash and reuse ziplock bags?  What would be the best way to do it?  
Thanks, Kasey 

Great question, Kasey!
I did a post on this a while back. That was for-eeeeehhh-veeerr (spoken like a true Squints) ago, so here is my new, updated response:

If you are anything like me, you are obsessed with baggies. I “Ziploc” everything! I think it’s a great way to get an airtight seal on things, keep things clean, separated, and organized, and they are great containers that shrink as the contents in the bag shrink.
When it comes to reusing baggies, there are definite benefits…and definite downsides.
The Benefits:
I know it seems like a total tightwad thing to do, but it really does save money over time! I go through a lot of baggies, so reusing them now and again adds up more than you think. In addition it cuts down on waste and helps preserve the environment. 
The Downsides:
It’s a bit annoying, so I do pick and choose my amount of effort. I am much more likely to reuse the larger bags (gallon or quart sized) vs the small bags (sandwich or snack sized).
How I, personally, do it:
  • I always buy my baggies on sale, with a coupon from Costco (see HERE). 
  • I never reuse baggies that had meat in them, even cooked meat. 
  • I don’t reuse baggies that have anything greasy, goopy, or sticky in them. It’s typically not worth the time it takes to get them really clean. Plus, I get creeped out when I feel like there is still stuff left behind in my baggies when it comes time to reuse them. 
  • To wash a bag, I turn two bags inside out, stick one hand in each bag, and “wash my hands”. You could also do one bag on one hand and use a scrubber with soap.
  • I recommend using antibacterial dish soap and hot water, just like you would any other dish.
  • Dry bags inside-out. If there is still a little water left on them when you need to use it, simply wipe clean.
  • Prop bags on utensils you are trying – handles of spatulas, big spoons, skewers, etc. You could also prop them “teepee style” on a drying rack if they are sturdy enough to stand on their own.
  • If I have used a baggie for non-food items (like my lip gloss at the airport, or my son’s wet wipes) then write “not for food” on the bag and re-use (for other non-food items) it without washing it.
  • I don’t wash out bags that have had bread or dry items in them, I just shake out the crumbs, write “bread” or “crackers” or whatever on it, and reuse that bag for another bread or cracker-like food item.
Here are other baggie saving tips from a book called “The Tightwad Gazette”:
  • If the zipper starts to split on the edges, fuse them with the tip of an iron.
  • If the zipper separates completely, cut it off and use a baggie tie or rubber band to close it.
  • If it has a small hole, simply use it for non-food items or foods that don’t have to be airtight, like popcorn.
  • You can even reuse plastic bags that random items come in – brown sugar bags, the bag your panty hose are wrapped in, produce bags, bread bag, etc.
  • Any bag with paint on it (like a bread bag) shouldn’t be used inside out.

So, there you have it! I reuse baggies whenever possible and I really feel that it saves money and the environment. Even if you reuse one baggie, once in a while…that’s better than nothing.

Hope that helps, Kasey!

Comments

  1. Jamy says

    How funny! I JUST started doing this THIS week! I am determined to pay off student loans and am trying absolutely everything in my power to save money. I'm with ya, I hardly ever re-use the sandwich ones. But those other ones are too expensive NOT to!

  2. Kimm says

    You can also rise them, turn them inside out, and run them through your washing machine with your kitchen towels. Hang them to dry and then turn right side out, fold, and put back in Ziploc baggie in your drawer. To do this you must buy the sturdier freezer bags. Also, avoid the ones with the little zipper, as it's not as durable for reuse.

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