How to Fold Grocery Bags for Storage

Grocery paper bag with plant and reusable bag with fruit on counter

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 2 - 5 mins
  • Total Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Grocery bags, even reusable shopping bags, seem to breed overnight which fill our pantry and drawers to the brim. You have a few options- toss them (not very eco-conscious), recycle them at designated bins outside grocery stores, use paper bags in recycle bins, or donate them to food banks so the bags can be reused.

However, if you want to keep your grocery bags for another shopping trip or for crafting, learning how to properly fold them will make your pantry neater and the bags easier to reuse. Set aside time after each shopping excursion or save a pile for folding during your next free time.

Tip

When folding any type of grocery bag, try working on a flat surface to create sharp and even edges.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Flat working surface
  • Storage container with top opening
  • Storage bins

Materials

  • Small rubber bands

Instructions

Materials and tools to fold reusable grocery bags

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

How to Fold Reusable Grocery Bags

  1. Check for Dampness and Stains

    After each shopping trip, check each reusable grocery bag for dampness or stains. Don't store a wet or soiled bag because bacteria or mold can grow.

    Reusable grocery bag checked for dampness

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  2. Wash Bags, If Needed

    Cross-contamination happens when raw meats and produce are placed next to pre-cooked foods and other items in already soiled bags. Most reusable bags can be cleaned by being wiped down with an all-purpose cleaner or machine-washing.

    Reusable grocery bag wiped down with sponge

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  3. Fold and Store

    • Small reusable bags can usually be folded in half. Use an appropriately-sized plastic bin to store the bags, folded side up for easy access.
    • Larger bags, without a flat bottom, should be folded into a square packet. Wrap the handles around the packet and then store them in a bin.
    • Large bags with a flat bottom should be flattened, the straps folded down, and then the bag folded in half. Store the bags in an open flat-bottomed shopping bag for each access. The bag can be stored on a shelf or hung from a hook.
    Reusable grocery bags folded and stored in storage basket

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

How to Fold Paper Grocery Bags

  1. Collapse the Bag

    Collapse the sides of the bag so it is flat. The bottom of the bag will be folded up against the front surface of the bag.

    Paper grocery bag laid flat with bottom folded up

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  2. Make Two Folds

    Now, fold the bottom of the bag up again toward the top opening of the bag. There will now be a small unfolded section at the top opening. Fold the section down toward the bottom of the bag to create a short flap.

    Bottom and opening of paper grocery bag folded in

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  3. Tuck Edges Into the Flap

    Tuck the folded bottom edges into the top flap opening to create a packet.

    Bottom edges of paper grocery bag folded into flaps

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  4. Store the Bags

    The bags can now be stored flat on a shelf or stacked on their edges in a tray.

    Paper grocery bags stored on shelf

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

How to Fold Plastic Grocery Bags

There are two ways to fold plastic grocery bags for neat storage. One creates small triangles that can be placed in an open storage crate for easy access. Another method creates a roll that can be self-dispensing or placed in a round container, so the bags can be removed one at a time.

How to Fold Plastic Grocery Bags Into Triangles

  1. Flatten the Bag

    Working on a hard surface, flatten and smooth the bag leaving no air inside. Make sure the sides are pleated inward and that the handles are aligned evenly parallel to each other.

    Plastic grocery bag lied flat on surface

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  2. Create a Thin Rectangle

    Fold the bag in half lengthwise placing the handles on top of each other. Now, fold it in half again to create a long, thin rectangle. (You may need to make another fold if the bag is very wide.) Flatten and smooth the bag after each fold to remove any excess air.

    Plastic grocery bag folded into thin rectangle

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  3. Fold Into Triangles

    • Start at the bottom of the rectangle (not at the end with the handles). Fold one corner over to meet the edge of the rectangle to create a triangle fold.
    • Fold that triangle inward toward the edge of the rectangle to create another triangle. Smooth each crease for a neat fold. Repeat until you reach the handles.
    • To finish, fold the handles into an open crease of the last triangle fold. This will create a packet that will keep the bundle from coming loose. This is the same method used when folding a flag.
    • To use the bag, simply pull out the handles and unfold the triangles to open the bag.
    Plastic grocery bag folded into small triangle

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

How to Fold Plastic Grocery Bags Into a Roll

  1. Flatten, Fold, and Stack

    • Working on a flat surface, flatten the bags. Tuck the side pleats inward and smooth it to remove all of the air.
    • Fold the bags in half lengthwise, so the handles are aligned along one edge.
    • Create a stack of bags. A stack of 50 bags will fit into a 75-count household wipes container. Use fewer bags for smaller containers or if you are creating self-dispensing bundles.
    Plastic grocery bag folded in half lengthwise

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  2. Start the Roll

    • Working with one bag, fold the handles down toward the bottom of the bag to create a 90-degree angle. The handles of the top back will be used to pull the bag from the center of the roll you create.
    • Begin rolling the folded edge of the bag toward the bottom edge.
    Folded edge of plastic bag rolled toward bottom edge

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  3. Continue the Roll

    • Once the first bag is rolled about halfway down the bag, lay the handles of the next bag overlapping the first bag. Align the side edges.
    • Continue rolling and adding additional bags as you create a larger and larger roll.
    Additional bag laid flat and folded for rolling edges

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  4. Secure Roll or Place in Dispenser

    • If you are making a small roll (it will look like a candle), secure it with a rubber band. To use, simply pull on the top handles.
    • Larger rolls can be placed in a round canister. Pull the exposed handles to remove the bags one at a time from the center of the roll.
    Roll of plastic grocery bags secured with rubber band

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska