Sometime around the end of last year, I had accomplished a pretty impressive feat (impressive for me personally, at least)—I was finally able to remember my reusable shopping bags almost every time I went to the grocery store. It helped that I had finally found a set of reusable shopping bags that I really enjoyed using, which made me much less likely to forget to take them with me into the store.
But unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic made reusable bags temporarily obsolete! For several months, my local grocery store stopped allowing the use of reusable shopping bags to help prevent the spread of bacteria, which I fully supported as a measure to help reduce risk for our essential workers.
However, the policy change did mean that I was quickly back to my old ways of collecting empty plastic bags and not knowing what to do with them! It felt a little bit like deja vu, considering that I actually wrote a blog post about ways to reuse plastic bags about five years ago.
In case you’re in a similar situation of sitting on a pile of empty grocery bags, I thought I’d freshen up that old post and share it with you today! These tips will make it easy to find all sorts of ways to put those plastic bags to good use! 🙂
Note: If you have any bags that are particularly grimy or have held raw meat, you’re better off tossing them out of an abundance of caution. Better safe than sorry!
13 Practical Ways To Reuse Plastic Bags
1. Keep Your Hands Clean
Pull a plastic bag over each hand to use them as a pair of makeshift gloves! It’s a great way to keep your hands clean when handling messy foods, or when cleaning up messes like vomit, sticky crafts, etc.
2. Clean Your Shower Head
Use a plastic bag and some distilled white vinegar to clean your shower head! Fill the bag with vinegar and use a rubber band to secure it around your shower head. Let it soak for an hour or so to allow the vinegar to dissolve mineral deposits and cut through soap scum.
3. Cover Your Plunger
Don’t have a stand or cover for your toilet plunger? Cover the rubber end with a plastic bag to contain germs and grime!
4. Line A Wastebasket
Grocery store bags are just the right size to use as liners in small wastebaskets. Put a few extra bags in the bottom of the empty wastebasket before lining it with another bag, and that way you’ll have a replacement ready to go the next time you empty it!
5. Keep The Shape Of Purses & Shoes
Before you put shoes or handbags into storage, stuff a few plastic bags inside them. The bags will help your shoes or purses retain their shape while they’re in storage so they don’t wind up misshapen or lumpy.
6. Contain Trash In The Car
Tie an empty grocery sack to the back of your headrest on long car rides or road trips. It’s the perfect makeshift trash can for empty wrappers and drink bottles, since you can throw the whole thing away at the next rest stop!
7. Use As “Barf Bags” For Carsick Passengers
Some people may feel a little nauseous in the car, while others may get truly carsick! Prepare for the worst by keeping a few empty plastic bags in your car. That way, you’ll always have a “barf bag” handy should you ever find yourself with a vomiting passenger.
8. Keep Mirrors & Wipers Ice-Free
For those who park their cars on the street or in uncovered spots, it’s all too common to wake up to frozen side mirrors and windshield wipers during the winter. So when the forecast calls for overnight snow, cover your wipers and side mirrors with plastic bags. The bags will keep them free of ice and snow and make the next morning’s commute a little easier!
9. Cover Muddy Shoes
To avoid tracking mud or slush into your car when the weather’s bad, keep a stash of plastic bags in the car. Slip one bag over each shoe before stepping into the car to keep your floor mats clean!
10. Wrap Plant & Plant Starts
With as much plant shopping as I did this past summer, I know just how much dirt winds up in your trunk after unloading a good plant haul! So that’s why I’ve started keeping a stash of plastic bags in my car, so I can wrap the bottoms of any plants and plant starts to keep dirt out of my car. 🙂
11. Wrap Shoes In Luggage
When packing for a trip, wrap each pair of shoes you’re bringing in a grocery bag before putting them in your suitcase. The bag will prevent dirty soles from messing up your clean clothes, AND prevent your other items from scuffing up your shoes.
12. Pick Up After Your Dog
One great way to reuse plastic bags is to pick up after your dog on walks. (Just make sure to toss it into a trash can afterward, since they aren’t biodegradable.)
13. Prevent Painting Tools From Drying
Working on a painting project? Wrap a plastic bag tightly around your brushes or paint rollers and wrap a rubber band around the bottom to secure it. This will keep the paint wet for as long as a full day so you can pick up right where you left off tomorrow.
What’s your favorite way to reuse plastic bags?