How to Wash and Dry Reusable Food Storage Bags

Keep your eco-friendly sandwich bags clean in just a few steps

Reusable food storage bags with orange slices and almonds and sandwich with cilantro

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 - 45 mins
  • Total Time: 2 - 3 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

We all know that our Earth would be much healthier if everyone stopped throwing tons of spoiled food and plastic into the trash can. Much of that plastic comes from flimsy food storage bags that are designed to be used once and tossed. To help address the problem, consumers can now buy sustainable items, such as washable, dryable, and reusable sandwich bags made of silicone. These bags come in a variety of sizes and colors, can be used to store both solid and liquid foods, and can even go into the oven, microwave, or boiling water.

Of course, like any silicone kitchenware, reusable bags require regular and proper cleaning. With just a few household products, you can clean them easily, save money, and reduce your impact on the planet.

How Often to Clean Reusable Food Storage Bags

As with any food preparation or storage product, the bags should be cleaned after every use. If the bags become stained or begin to feel sticky, a more thorough cleaning will be needed.

Tip

Most silicone reusable food storage bags can be cleaned in the dishwasher on the top rack (always check the brand's guidelines). However, hand-washing will usually give better results because you can be sure that the corners are well-exposed to soap and water.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Non-abrasive sponge
  • Soft-bristled bottle brush
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Sink
  • Dishwashing gloves (optional)

Materials

  • Dishwashing liquid with a degreaser
  • Baking soda
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Chlorine beach (optional)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (optional)

Instructions

Yellow sponge with bottle brush, cloth rag and bowl with dishwashing gloves

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Daily Cleaning

Always check the bag's cleaning instructions. For example, you can wash and dry Ziploc Endurables reusable sandwich and freezer bags in either the top or bottom rack of the dishwasher, but not all silicone bags can go on the bottom rack.

  1. Handwash the Bags

    Fill a sink or small tub with hot water and add a few drops of a good dishwashing liquid that contains a degreaser. Submerge the bags and allow them to soak for two or three minutes. Use a non-abrasive sponge or dishcloth to wipe down the inside and outside of the bags.

    Rinse well with hot water and invert over a drying rack to air-dry. Do not turn the bags inside out to dry because that can harm the sealed edges.

    Reusable storage bags hand washed with gloves and dish detergent in small bowl

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  2. Use a Dishwasher

    Rinse out the bags with warm or cold water to remove loose food particles. Place the bags upside down on the top rack of the dishwasher so the water from the spray arms can reach the interior surfaces. Use your regular dishwasher detergent and cycle.

    Reusable storage bags placed upside down in top rack of dishwasher

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

    Warning

    Never turn the food storage bags inside out before hand-washing or placing them in the dishwasher. This can damage the seals at the corners causing the bags to leak.

How to Deep Clean and Remove Stains

After several uses, the bags may feel sticky or if the bags are used with foods like tomato sauce that leave stains, the storage bags will need a bit more cleaning than a quick wash.

  1. Rinse With Hot Water

    Begin by filling the bag about half full with hot water. Pinch together the top and swish the water around in the bag to loosen stuck-on food. If this does not dislodge food particles in the corners, use a small, soft-bristled bottle brush to clean the corners.

    Reusable bag scrubbed by bottle brush with hot water

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  2. Mix a Cleaning Solution

    In a small bowl, mix one-part distilled white vinegar, one-part lemon juice, and two parts baking soda to create a thin paste. NOTE: the mixture will foam a bit so don't overfill the bowl.

    Lemon juice, baking soda and white distilled vinegar mixed in small bowl with spoon

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  3. Apply the Paste and Wait

    Use your hand or a non-abrasive sponge to apply the paste to the interior of the food storage bag. Lay the bag flat and allow the paste to work for around 15 minutes. Flip the bag and wait another 15 minutes.

    Cleaning mixture paste rubbed inside reusable storage bag with pink gloves

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  4. Rinse and Dry

    Fill the bag with hot water and swish to rinse. If you are cleaning several bags, fill a sink or tub with hot water for rinsing. Wipe down the inside and outside of the bags with a lint-free microfiber cloth to prevent water spots.

    Invert the reusable sandwich bags over a drying rack to finish air-drying. It's important to store plastic sandwich bags the right way; never store damp bags.

    Green microfiber cloth wiping inside of reusable storage bag to dry

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

    Tip

    Storing damp bags can cause mildew growth. If that happens, mix a solution of one cup of warm water and one tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach or one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide. (NEVER mix the two chemicals.) Pour the solution into the bag and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Dispose of the bleach solution and wash the bag as recommended.

Tips to Keep Reusable Food Storage Bags Looking Great

  • For foods like tomato sauce or blueberries that are likely to leave a stain, choose a similarly colored storage bag.
  • To remove water-spots from hard water, place a tiny dot of vegetable oil on a paper towel, and wipe down the silicone bag.
  • Placing the silicone bags in the sun can help remove stains thanks to the sun's ultraviolet rays.
  • Frequent deep cleaning with the baking soda paste can keep odors at bay.
  • Never store damp or soiled bags. This encourages mold and mildew growth.
FAQ
  • How can I sanitize reusable sandwich bags?

    You can make a reusable sandwich bag clean and hygienic with hot water and dish detergent, either washing it by hand or in the dishwasher.

  • How do you get the smell out of reusable bags?

    Remove smells by filling a reusable bag with equal parts warm water and vinegar. Close the bag and let the mixture sit inside for a few hours. Then rinse thoroughly. Also, try removing odors from reusable bags by baking them on a baking sheet at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for eight minutes, but always look at the manufacturer's cleaning recommendations to confirm this method.

  • How many reusable bags should I keep?

    Some reusable silicone sandwich bags last three to five years, or 3,000 uses. Some silicone bags come individually or as sets of the same or different sizes. If sandwich bags are used daily, consider having two on hand for each person in your household.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleaning for a Healthy Home. UMN Extension.