Ziplocs Are Actually Reusable — Get Infinite Use Out of Them With This Hack


Nov. 27 2023, Published 5:30 p.m. ET

Three screenshots of a TikTok washing Ziploc bags
Source: America's Test Kitchen/Instagram

You can wash Ziploc bags for reuse.

The modern world has grown so dependent on single-use plastics, and we know it's adding to our fossil fuel consumption and landfill waste. Though reusable Ziploc bag alternatives exist, you may still occasionally use regular Ziploc bags — and reusing them gets you closer to a zero-waste lifestyle.

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One video circulating on social media shares an easy hack for reducing the number of single-use plastic bags you go through each week. You can save money, cut down on plastic pollution, and reduce environmental damage by cleaning your Ziploc bags — here's how.

Ziploc bags with nuts on counter
Source: iStock
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Here's how to clean Ziploc bags.

On the Instagram for America's Test Kitchen, you can watch a video showing how easy it is to clean Ziploc bags. According to the video, Ziploc storage bags (or zip-top storage bags of any brand) can be washed and reused up to 10 times.

Beware that you shouldn't try to reuse Ziploc bags that have stored raw meat, fish, or eggs, according to the Food Network, who spoke to a Ziploc representative.

The process is very easy: the woman in the America's Test Kitchen video says that you should fill your Ziploc bag with warm water and add a little bit of soap. Next, press the bag's seal closed and swish the water and soap mixture around in the bag. She says to then rinse the bag or wipe it out fully with a clean dish cloth. The final essential step is drying the Ziploc bag, which you can do by simply placing it upside-down on a dish rack to air dry.

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Here are some of the comments from people who agree with the tip:

  • "I have turned into my mother and I do this now. :-)"
  • "So I'm not a psycho!"
  • "This is standard if we don't have a reusable available. My mom has been doing this for as long as I can remember."
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There are plenty of other options for cleaning plastic food storage bags. Instead of shaking or swishing the soap mixture inside of the bag, you can simply wipe it down with a clean soapy sponge and then rinse dry, just like you would with any other dish.

The Kitchn suggests that in addition to hand-washing bags with warm soapy water, you might place them in the dishwasher, taking care that the spray will be able to thoroughly clean them. (You may want to avoid this if your dishwasher gets very hot, and only do this on cold water settings.)

For stubborn smells in Ziploc bags or reusable silicone zip-top bags, you can try putting equal parts vinegar and water into a zip-top bag, closing it, and leaving it alone for several hours before rinsing and drying completely, as per The Spruce.

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brunette woman putting fruit into zip-top bags
Source: iStock

Is it safe to reuse Ziploc bags?

In general, it's safe to reuse plastic storage bags as long as you properly clean and dry them, and avoid reusing those that held raw meat or eggs. Be sure they're dry before storage, which can take some time. And as Taste of Home points out, you want to avoid extremely high water temperatures for washing and rinsing bags, as that could cause the plastic to break down more quickly.

When using heavier-duty Ziploc bags (such as freezer quality), these will often last longer than the cheaper versions of the same storage bags. If you notice any holes or tears in the bag or the seal, discontinue use of that bag.

And next time you're ready to restock, we recommend investing in some reusable zip-top bags, such as Stasher bags, instead.

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