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How do you dry plastic bags after you wash them?

I'm asking in cookware, assuming I'll need to buy something...
I prefer to reuse plastic bags, but haven't figured out a good method for drying them. For most everything else, if it doesn't go in the dishwasher, can either stack so it airdrys, or dry myself and put away. Plastic bags get wadded up and don't dry well. I find myself hanging them from the faucet or cabinet knobs.... Any ideas? Thanks!

(PS: I did a search, didn't see anything related.)

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  1. Washing plastic bags? Grandma, is that you on Chowhound? Still have that drawer full of wire twisties?

    13 Replies
    1. re: BiscuitBoy

      HAHA, I was gonna say "Hey ma, when didja get a computer, how long you been a hound, and pretty sexy handle, "mselectra"!

      Yeah, my mother reuses and reuses and reuses ziploc bags.
      I *think* she washes them only one at a time. I saw the bag placed OVER the spigot of the sink to drip and dry.

      1. re: BiscuitBoy

        Hey, my late mom washed plastic straws. Yuck, I always brought my own to her house.

        Loved your response, BB!!

          1. re: breadchick

            yes, ick -- although probably not any rational/scientific/hygienic reason it's actually icky? I can't imagine using plastic straws often enough to even think of this -- I bet they're more common in households with little kids, right?

            1. re: mselectra

              Straws in alcoholic drinks are prohibited here, supposedly bugs lay eggs in them because they sit so long. That's enough to make me not a fan of straws in general. My husband on the other hand likes them, I think something to do with his teeth sensitivity.

              1. re: mselectra

                Yes, my mother had them for milkshakes for the grandchildren, and my sister loves ice in her soda but not the feeling of the ice against her teeth. Stuff like that.

                In my house, I keep the NEW straws in a ziplock bag, so no worry about bugs. And I don't re-use them, ha.

                (I like black straws, so bought some in bulk online.)

              2. re: breadchick

                Yep my mom washed disposable straws too.

                Growing up everyone I knew washed ziplocs. Now, mind you, not that anyone in my family actually purchased ziplocs, they were way too expensive but if one came into the house, it was washed and reused until it feel apart.

                I remember someone saying they used chopsticks in a mug as a drying tree.

                I do catch myself saving good/clean ziplocs for another use and it always reminds me of my grandmother. I don't however, wash them. My OCD husband would have a fit if he came home to bags drying in the kitchen.

              3. re: BiscuitBoy

                I laughed, but the truth is every once in a while I wish I had a wire twistie lying around. :-)

                1. re: nokitchen

                  If you can power up the way back machine, there was an entire shoe box full of new ties in my parent's house.

                  1. re: nokitchen

                    That's what the junk drawer is for in the kitchen. ;) Also elastics, scissors, thinGs of that nature...

                    1. re: kattyeyes

                      Ha! We didn't have a junk drawer, we had a junk BOX, so great was my father's hoarding ability/problem and there was at least scissors in there.

                  2. re: BiscuitBoy

                    Some plastic bags are hard to replace. There was a thread yesterday on how hard it is to find non-zipperlock bags, and I baby along a few bread-loaf-size bags that I couldn't replace. I wash them in hot soapy water, rinse them under running water, and put them on a three-bar folding towel rack I have in my shower stall. They dry there quickly. I don't repurpose bags that have had meat in them. Ziplock bags are everywhere and easy to replace---no need to save them. But the bread size ones are wonderful for home-baked loaves---and irreplaceable.

                  3. Turn them inside out and air dry...but I like Biscuit's reply more :)

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: HillJ

                      Well, yes, I do that -- it just gets cluttered and they get wadded up. I saw a sort of tree thing for drying them at a store once, so maybe I should search around to figure out what that was...

                      I'm actually shocked that you all assume you're only going to use them once and throw them out. Seems pretty wasteful to me, didn't realize that was so common. I'm trying to cut down on use of plastic altogether... But not exactly my most pressing concern at the moment, I admit. And I swear I don't have too many twisties in the drawer....

                      But I guess I should ask my grandmother for advice, as I know she reuses them too, ;)

                      1. re: mselectra

                        I only reuse the plastics that didn't contain wet or refrigerated foods. Like wrapped snacks, dry cereal. I'm more concerned about the odor..which isn't always easy to remove.

                        1. re: HillJ

                          If it's not meat I'll often repurpose it. I rinse (don't go crazy) and hang to dry on a wooden spoon or grater or whatever vertical thing on the counter first catches my eye. This time of year, with the heat on, it dries in a jiffy.

                          1. re: coll

                            Coll -- this has basically been my method. I'm thinking my issue is having such a small kitchen and counter -- I don't usually leave anything out on it at all at night, so a couple bags make it feel cluttered to me.

                            1. re: mselectra

                              The older I get, the more clutter I can live with. But I understand if it's not for you!

                              1. re: coll

                                There's a lot of clutter in the rest of my life, but something about that clean kitchen counter in the morning makes me feel like life's not totally out of control - ha!

                                1. re: mselectra

                                  I know that feeling, when I occasionally wake up to a sparkling clean kitchen ;-)

                          2. re: HillJ

                            if it's dry stuff, I tend to just shake them out and not wash, so that's easy. Haven't had issues with odor that I've noticed, but if it's too stinky or slimy, I'll toss.

                          3. re: mselectra

                            I'm not a grandma, but I reuse them too, if they've held frozen bagels or something like that that won't contaminate the bag. I have my knives in a large wooden knife block. I will hook the bag onto the handle ends of a few knives sticking out of the block, and they dry pretty quickly that way.

                            I save the wire twist ties too. I *hate* those little square plastic thingies that they use to close packages of bread now. Once you take it off, it's near impossible to get it back on w/o breaking it.

                            1. re: HeyImBack

                              I don't like the square plastic thingies either. I save twist ties and rubber bands. There are so many times when one saves the day!

                        2. Here's a DIY drying rack. I would make it tall so you have airflow underneath.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: zackly

                            I like that one. I found some other DIYs, too -- here's a post from apartmenttherapy: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/plast...

                            1. re: zackly

                              After I looked up the link, I pulled out an old glass flower frog that resembles the linked object, stuck some chopsticks in it, and put a wet plastic bag over a chopstick. It needs to be taller for the bag in question, so maybe some skewers or dowels would be better. Or a variety of heights.

                              1. re: sr44

                                There you go! Take the frog with you if you're going to shop for dowels, to make sure they'll fit in the holes. Or else be prepared to do a bit of whittling...

                                1. re: ellabee

                                  I can't tell you how excited I am with this. Somehow I've acquired a number of these frogs which have some use as pencil holders, but not much.

                                  1. re: sr44

                                    OK, so a bit off-topic: I love the old flower frogs made of lead. I use them for bunches of peonies because the flower heads are so large and wonderful. Keeps them in place.

                                    So, how soon do I want Spring???? I am sooo over this cold weather.

                                    To keep it on topic - I would use straws over the spikes in the frogs, that might work too?

                                    1. re: breadchick

                                      Sure. My frogs are glass or ceramic, and I've been trying to find a new use for them. Pencil holder is as good as I've got, until the blinding flash that they could be used to dry plastic bags. I've had a few chopsticks in a jar, which worked pretty well, but not as well as the frog.

                            2. How about a pasta dryer? Usually has wood prongs for hanging pasta, so you can insert a bag in the prong?


                              1 Reply
                              1. re: breadchick

                                great idea! And cost less than the paper bag racks I found on amazon.

                              2. I have several empty (and clean) wine bottles beside my drying rack, and I shake out the just-washed bag, and put it upside down on a wine bottle. Air can circulate, and the bag is dry within a day. (Glad to know I'm not the only one who reuses bags!!)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: hungryjoanne

                                  I've used wine (and other) bottles, too -- as I've often just washed them out, too, to prep for recycling.

                                2. Hey all who've replied -- I figured I'd seen chowhounds get obsessive about smaller things, so thought I might get some thoughtful and clever responses -- which I have, and quickly too! And I happened to be obsessing about it when I happened to get on chowhound for something else, so thought why not ask. Thanks!

                                  And, if you're interested, some more of what I've found:
                                  http://www.theyummylife.com/wash_dry_... (in the dishwasher! hmmmm


                                  Well, that was about a minute of googling....

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: mselectra

                                    I actually own and use, daily, the first one. We use baggies for lunches and lots of freezer bags. Unless they are totally gross, I wash and reuse until they're dead.

                                    My kids were trained from an early age to bring home their empty plastic bags as well as plastic utensils from their lunch bags.

                                  2. I don't usually reuse them, but when I do, I wash and flip them inside out.

                                    1. ! To be serious, my Nana would dry them on the clothes line. She was known to reuse saran wrap a time or 2 as well

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                        Don't forget to reuse the foil, while we're at it. My mom also likes to reuse disposable gloves. ;)

                                        Me: NO, MA, THROW THEM OUT!
                                        Ma: But I only made a slice in one, the other is perfectly fine!
                                        Me: OK, Michael Jackson, go right ahead! :P

                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                          kattye, for some reason my Mom used Elizabeth Taylor.....

                                      2. over the paper towel holder

                                        go to rummage, find some extra ones - put a roll with just a few sheet of paper towel over each stand ----

                                        the other option - I rumple up some clean brown paper - and loosely put in the bag

                                        I know - I see the comments here - - it clutters the kitchen (no mag photo shoots that day)

                                        HOWEVER - even if I don't re-use -- I do like to clean and dry them before taking them to recycle center as our community recycle center says that they need the items to be clean and dry otherwise it ruins the entire batch in the bin. I understand that - and I also understand how much hot water etc it takes to make that plastic clean - diff discussion

                                        the other option is one of those hang-off-the-shower-head drip dry pin things - common when ladies wore hosiery that needed to be handwash and drip dry (and very likely still avail at Bed Bath Big Box---- not to mention late nite tv ; ) ---- my aunt has a spare bathroom (with shower tub) and that is how she dries a myriad of recyclables

                                        ps EDIT to add - I never re-use meat bags - I do my best to rinse and dry in a semi-clean place away from kitchen (like the garage) - just like if something comes in to our home on one of those styro trays (which we can recycle here in Vancouver area) it's important to reduce and re-use and recycle - for sandwiches we use wax paper / parchment bag and if someone is concerned about it squealching out in to backpack / briefcase - then re-use a plastic bread bag over the parchment each day that week

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Georgia Strait

                                          The Lingerie Drying Rack
                                          is what I use.
                                          We wash the heavier bags, by hand, the same way as glassware: sponge or dishcloth, hot soapy water, inside and out. Even when the previous contents were dry ingredients. We don't, however, re-use bags which contained unwrapped meat, poultry or fish.

                                          1. re: KarenDW

                                            yes, that's the type of hosiery hanger I was speaking of (above) - I suppose I might find one in a dollar store up here in BC Canada ---- I think you're from V-BC region so maybe you'd know.

                                            for sure absolutely do not re-use the meat product bags - or sometimes the carrots from Lillooet organic farm get a little too natural, so I wash but do not re-use those bags either (have you seen those Lillooet carrots in your store in Vanc? - again, I think you're in that region) - delicious soup, muffins etc

                                        2. I have a plastic bag dryer that is somewhat similar to the first Countertop Bag Dryer in the Apartment Therapy link below, but was much cheaper. I purchased it at a Chinese housewares store many years ago.

                                          Sometimes I'll put a long chopstick in the flatware bin of the dish drainer and place the bag upside down over that.
                                          When the bag is mostly dry, I'll hang it (with the open side up) from a clip attached to a cupboard knob to expose the inside more fully, to ensure that it dries completely.

                                          1. I leave them in the dish drain to remove most of the water. Then I turn them inside out and clip them to this:


                                            which I hook onto the metal arm of the overhead kitchen light fixture.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: meatn3

                                              ROFL..does it come in blue too?

                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                Actually yes - I have it in blue!

                                                Sometimes I forget it is up until I see a guest gazing at it in puzzlement.

                                                In my old kitchen I could hang it above the sink which was handy.

                                                1. re: meatn3

                                                  Whimsical! I like that in a bag dryer. :)

                                                2. I just kind of scrunch the bags halfway inside out and leave them on the counter.

                                                  A couple months ago, I decided I could take them out to the garage (right out the kitchen door) and leave them on the counter out there instead. When I've gone back for the dry ones a few days later, they're always gone. Like socks in the dryer.

                                                  1. VIVIDLY remember when Dad and his BIL got called to Nana's house over a washing machine "problem"?? Results was... she was running plastic bags thru it and it got all wadded up inside!

                                                    I have a vac sealer and reuse (relatively expensive) bags as much as possible. After thoroughly washing, I just prop over something tall to let them dry.

                                                    1. Used to roll my eyes when my mother washed plastic bags, but now here I am... washing both produce bags and ziplocs.

                                                      The paper towel dispenser in use here started its life as a device for drying pasta: a tall vertical dowel on a base, with holes drilled in the top third for smaller dowels to be stuck through horizontally (pasta hangs from these). It was my mother's; I've long since lost track of the small dowels, and have only made fresh pasta once.

                                                      But the height of the main post is perfect for drying bags, because it's tall enough that even the big ones only cover up part of the paper towel roll. After washing I whip them once or twice to get rid of excess moisture (speeds drying, helps keep bag from sticking to itself), and hang over the post. The paper towel roll helps keep the bag open. They dry really quickly.

                                                      Edited to add: No need to buy something for this purpose: On the rare occasion I'm doing more than one bag, my second drying rig is a quart mason jar holding a stainless steel spider (open-mesh strainer thingie); the top is wide and rounded, and the long handle makes it tall enough to keep a produce bag clear of the table. The fatness of the quart jar keeps the bag open.

                                                      Not ashamed to have a small open box of used twist-ties, neatly flattened out. Yes, I am the Lily Tomlin housewife character come to life...

                                                      1. If you're going to be thrifty enough to wash and reuse plastic bags, then it seems silly and spend-thrift to go out and purchase some purpose-made product to hold them while drying. Especially when there are probably lots of items in your kitchen that will serve quite well as a drying rack. For example, bottles, whether empty or full, will work just fine - place the bags inside out over the bottle neck. Empty and cleaned milk cartons, juice cartons, condiment bottles/jars, etc. will all work for this purpose. Definitely don't let them get wadded up for that is how mold and bacteria grow, rendering your rewashed bags useless and your washing effort all for naught.

                                                        9 Replies
                                                        1. re: janniecooks

                                                          The issue I have with using bottles and other items you mentioned is that they aren't clean. If one wants to place a cleaned bag - which will then hold food - over a bottle that's been handled by at least a few hands, I think one would have to wash the bottles and cartons too.

                                                          For a few dollars, if she wants a dyi project, several 12 inch dowels and a 6 inch block of wood can do the trick. Drill holes in the wood and stick the dowels in there. If they aren't glued in, they can be removed for storage.

                                                          But then, for the price of the dowels and wood, she can get the pasta dryer I had suggested upthread.

                                                          My mother just propped them upside down in her dish rack, as she never had more than one or two at a time to deal with.

                                                          1. re: breadchick

                                                            Well, the bottles in my house are clean. But you must have ignored where I wrote in my post to turn the bags inside out. That means the side that touches the food is on the outside, not touching the bottle, but exposed to the air for fast drying.

                                                            1. re: janniecooks

                                                              I suggest turning the bags inside out before washing them. You usually just need to swish them in hot, soapy water, then rinse. If any of the wash water has gotten "inside" it doesn't matter if you don't rinse every bit of it off that surface, since it will not touch food once the bag is turned right side out again.

                                                              I use the plastic clothespin-hanger hybrid that goes over the shower curtain rod. With the inside-out bags, you can put several of them on one of the clips. I scrunch the bags open by putting my hand inside, so air gets inside as they dry. I do reuse bags that have contained meat, cheese, etc., as long as they are odorfree once washed and dried.

                                                              Kudos to the OP on her desire to economize and avoid generating unnecessary trash. IMO, the people who kid you about this need to think more about the cumulative damage done by their carbon footprints. It's not possible/practical for everyone to walk to work or buy an electric car, but we should conserve, reuse, and recycle where we can.

                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                Good advice re washing bags inside out. We should conserve, reuse and recycle where we can, but more importantly, we should consume less - less consumption is the first order solution to the "recycling" problem. And that is why I suggested the OP use things that are already in his/her kitchen as a drying rack, rather than running out to buy more things.

                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                  It's odd. I don't know anyone, old or young, who'd laugh at washing and re-using ziplock-type bags.

                                                                  1. re: lagatta

                                                                    Granted, it was probably at least 10 yrs ago, but I remember an Oprah show on the topic of cheapskates where in her introduction she mocked the bag re-users. It was the start of my turning against her.

                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                      I knew there was a reason I didn't like her ;-)

                                                                2. re: janniecooks

                                                                  I didn't ignore it, I must have missed it. Sorry, jeez.

                                                                3. re: breadchick

                                                                  I turn mine inside out and put them over long wooden spoons in the utensil holder on my dish drainer. I usually only have a couple, if that.

                                                              2. If you have an on-the-countertop dish drainer, just put them upside down over the spikes.
                                                                My kids always laughed at me because I washed plastic disposable forks, spoons and knives. They have a LOT of kids and it was easier to use disposables when they came over. One time after they left, I opened the dishwasher and they had put their paper plates in the dishwasher, lol! They got a good laugh out of that!

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: RLTRLDY

                                                                  They have a good sense of humor, love it!

                                                                  1. re: RLTRLDY

                                                                    I've been known to put plastic forks and such in the dishwasher in the kind of net bags that fruit usually comes in. Keeps em from flying around and melting on the element.

                                                                  2. The rack I made from scraps to dry cutting boards, jelly roll pans, etc. does bags too.

                                                                    1. Hey all who replied -- I was glad to see this thread take on a bit of a life of its own. I know it's run its course a while ago, and I'm not trying to resurrect, just wanted to say THANKS.

                                                                      Since I started this, I think I've only found myself washing two or three plastic bags, so I haven't followed up on any of your ideas. But there are some great ideas!

                                                                      I think we'll be doing some version of one of your DIY suggestions, likely with chopsticks (love that frog business). I set this up as about buying something, but I think that's because I see cookware as a board I go to when I'm going to buy something....

                                                                      We don't even own a dishrack, such a small counter (badly designed kitchen), it would take up all of it. I guess when we moved here, I figured we'd buy a small foldable one, but have never seen the need. I'm thinking that's what was causing my problem, that I didn't have a designated place to stick stuff.

                                                                      Anyway -- thanks again, and glad I'm not the only one who can get obsessive about such things. (I also put plastic forks in the dishwasher -- and, for that matter, could use advice about drying alum foil after I've washed it, too :))

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: mselectra

                                                                        For the aluminum foil, rinse off the food remains, then tent over a glass or something similar to dry.

                                                                        1. re: mselectra

                                                                          In your situation with dire lack of counter space, a swing-away towel bar that hangs off the wall would make sense. This is the classic version: http://www.casa.com/p/better-housewar...

                                                                          But I think it would be doable to DIY something similar with dowels or chopsticks.

                                                                        2. I stick them to the fridge with a magnet, magnet inside the bag and fluff it out a bit. (I tend to do it with the veggie storage bags.) Takes no additional space when not in use.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: snippet

                                                                            Thanks, love that idea (even though I don't wash out the bags.) So, to expand on that - how about the magnetic clips for sealing bagged snacks?

                                                                            This is why I LOVE Chow.

                                                                          2. Just buy one of those bag and bottle drying trees, you can get them at walmart, target and many other stores that sell small kitchen items. Not too expensive and work great. They also look nice.