In this post and accompanying video we are going to show you how to quickly sterilize your reusable produce bags using baking soda. Baking soda is a cheap, toxin-free household cleaning product that every zero waste home should have. If you don’t already have this sustainable home cleaning essential we highly recommend buying unpacked from your local bulk store.
Living conscious and clean
A zero waste lifestyle means living a simpler, clutter-free and more conscious life. It means having less stuff, getting rid of single-use throwaway items like plastic bags and buying quality items designed to last and be reused over again.
Reusable produce bags or canvas tote bags are a basic shopping essential for any sustainable kitchen. Because they are made of natural fibres like cotton or jute they can easily be cleaned on a cool or delicate cycle in the washer. However, you should avoid long programmes at high temperatures to prolong their useful life, avoid shrinkage and also to minimize water and energy consumption. Instead you can easily sterilize them using this technique and won’t have to fret about shrinkage or damage.
Maintaining good hygiene in a sustainable kitchen
Maintaining good cleanliness and hygiene is super important in any kitchen. Using your own bags for buying unpacked produce means that you are in control of cleanliness and what comes into your home. That’s way better than a plastic bag that could have been anywhere! You can also avoid toxins transfering to you food as may be the case with plastic bags or unnecessary and wasteful packaging.
That said, it is super important to follow some good hygiene practice. For this reason we like to sterilize our bags frequently and we always wash our mason jars between each refill. This avoids transfer of odours, the build up of any residue, any cross-contamination and of course kills any germs or bacteria that may be on the inside or outside of our bags.
How to quickly sterilize reusable produce bags in 4 simple steps
Step 1: Fill a large saucepan with hot water
Fill a large pan with fresh water. Use hot water from the tap to save time and energy when heating on the stove.
Step 2: Add baking soda & boil
Add approximately 3 pudding spoons of baking soda to the water and boil on the hob. Don’t forget to put the lid on the saucepan to further speed up the process and save energy. Meanwhile prepare a large bowl filled with cold water. You will use this later when you take the bags out of the hot water.
Step 3: Quickly dip bags in boiling water
Dip your bags in the boiling water for just a few seconds. It’s important just to give them a quick flash to kill all the germs but avoid shrinking the cloth or damaging it in anyway. Use a wooden spoon so as not to burn your fingers!
Step 4: Remove, rinse and dry
Quickly remove the bags and put them straight into cold water. Rinse them well to remove any traces of the baking soda. Then hang out to air dry. Do not put them in the tumble dryer or they will shrink because they are made from natural fibres.
Once they are dry it’s a good idea to iron. This helps to keep them tidy ready for your next shopping trip and also is an additional way to sterilize.
Don’t forget to thoroughly wash your mason jars
A really important part of your sustainable kitchen hygiene practice is to carefully wash and dry your mason jars between each refill. Even if you are only storing dry goods like rice, pasta or flour. This helps stop build up of any germs that may enter during usage and get rid of any tiny particles or leftovers that you may not see with the naked eye. We recommend washing by hand with hot soapy water using a natural, plastic-free dishcloth like our long lasting jute scrubbing cloth. This will avoid any damage to the seal or the metal fitments.
Share your tips in the comments below
Have any zero waste, sustainable kitchen hygiene tips, tricks or hacks of your own? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below. And don’t forget to share this post with your fellow zero wasters!