Zip-top bags can be reused several times — but there are some exceptions
While single-use plastic bags are convenient for quick and easy food storage, reusing them is friendlier on the environment — and your wallet. But how many times can a zip-top bag be reused?
According to Ziploc, the answer is “several.”
“Because Ziploc brand bags are made with high-quality, recyclable materials that are strong enough to be used again, our bags can be reused several times,” a spokesperson for the brand told PEOPLE in a statement.
To clean the bags after they’ve been used to store food, Ziploc recommends hand-washing them with soap and then air-drying them.
However, there are some instances when the bags are best tossed.
“We do not recommend reusing any bags that have held raw meat, fish, eggs, or potentially allergy triggering foods, etc. as that may become a food safety issue,” the spokesperson said.
And, of course, clingy sauces from some dishes — like red curry wings for example — may be difficult to rinse off.
When a stronger bag is needed, the representative noted that the brand’s Endurables line of silicone pouches and containers can be washed in the dishwasher and used “again and again.” They can also withstand a wider range of temperatures, and can go from the freezer to the oven.
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Ziploc added that its products meet the Food and Drug Administration’s conditions “for use for temperatures associated with defrosting and reheating food in the microwave, oven (for Ziploc Endurables up to 425°F), as well as room, refrigerator and freezer temperatures.” Ziploc Freezer Bags are made to withstand temperatures between -20°C to 80°C (-4°F to 176°F).
So, while there's no definitive limit on how many times you can reuse a plastic bag, it should last longer after storing dry food and other easy-to-clean contents. And if it's held anything spoiled, too hard to hand-wash or likely to contain harmful bacteria, play it safe and throw it out.
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