Keep cloth shopping bags clean

By Peter Kent

As consumers try to do their part for the environment, they may be collecting bacteria in reusable grocery bags.

“Reusable grocery bags are safe, but you do need to keep them clean,” said Pam Schmutz, Clemson University Home and Garden Information Center food safety specialist.

“Hand or machine wash them in hot, soapy water at least once a week, and always wash after a spill,” she said. After washing, machine dry or turn inside out and hang dry. That will reduce the number of bacteria inside and outside the bag by more than 99.9 percent.”

Clemson food safety specialists also recommend that you:

  • Put unpackaged produce in disposable bags. Bacteria from the produce can contaminate other foods and produce can pick up bacteria from the bag itself. If the produce is not cooked, the bacteria will survive.
  • Only use reusable grocery bags to hold food.
  • Never store unwashed reusable bags in a hot car where bacteria can thrive.

For information: Pam Schmutz, 864-656-9999,