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Covid-19 Preventative Measures: Cleaning and Disinfecting Reusable Bags



Authors as Published

Renee Boyer, Professor and Extension Specialist, Food Science and Technology, Virginia Tech; and Ben Chapman, Professor and Food Safety Extension Specialist, North Carolina State University

Current evidence suggests that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours or days on a variety of surfaces. Cleaning followed by disinfection is recommended by the CDC as a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings.

At this time, there is no link between reusable bags and COVID-19. Reusable bags are not considered a significant risk factor in the spread of COVID-19 and as such do not need to be banned from stores.


  • Clean inside and outside of the bag with soapy water and rinse.
  • Spray or wipe down the bags inside and out with diluted bleach solution (see below) or recommended disinfectant.
  • Allow bags to air dry completely before storing and using.
  • CDC recommends diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and compounds on the EPA-recommended list, found here:


  • Wash in warm water with normal laundry detergent. Dry on the warmest setting possible.
  • See CDC guidelines on laundry


  • Follow manufacturer's label instructions for application and proper ventilation.
  • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
    • 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water OR 
    • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
  • Use containers of bleach that have been open no longer than 30 days, as bleach can break down over time

It is always a good practice to clean and disinfect shopping bags after each use, and to pay extra attention to bags used to carry raw animal products.

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Updated April 27, 2020

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Publication Date

March 31, 2020