How to Sanitize Your Bags

At this stage, we all wash our hands for the allotted 20 seconds (right?) And clean the surfaces in our homes – but what about our bags? While recreational travel may be interrupted, many of us still drive to work or the grocery store. The CDC does not consider items such as bags to be the main source of transmission for COVID-19, so you can avoid disinfecting them. But let’s face it, we don’t have much time, so here’s how to wash your bags if you’re looking at them suspiciously.

How dirty can our bags be?

The University of Arizona conducted a study that found that 51% of all reusable bags contain E. coli bacteria and 12% E. coli, indicating the presence of feces and other pathogens.

Likewise, the National Center for Biotechnology Information has provided information on how microbiological pouches can get into. Concluding a study that tested 145 bags, they found that 95.2% of bags showed bacterial contamination. In other words, your bags are dirty.

Charles Gerba , professor of environmental science at the University of Arizona, offers his findings:

I only examined grocery bags and the bottom of women’s handbags, which tend to contain fecal bacteria. Food bags are bad because people put raw meat products in them, and many of them often contain fecal bacteria. People also tend to use them half the time to put other items in them, such as dirty laundry and shoes. In our interviews, only 3% of people ever said they washed them.

It is important for us to note that there are currently no published studies directly related to the bags and the possibility of the spread, infection or transportation of the coronavirus.

Where to begin

It is important to focus primarily on the parts of the bag that have been touched by hands, the ground, or other surfaces such as countertops. Our hands, in particular, touch a multitude of germ-contaminated surfaces – from keyboards, cell phones and keys to money, shopping carts or ATM machines. Thus, the handles and bottom of the bag (including wheels, if present) should be the starting point for disinfection.

How to clean different types of bags

Leather and hard material

Leather bags are easy to wipe clean and dry quickly. As we previously suggested , using microfiber wipes and disinfectant or disinfectant wipes to clean these surfaces is the best line of defense. Likewise, hard bags, including polycarbonate suitcases, can be easily wiped clean with a spray, cloth, or wipes. Spot check these bags to make sure the chemicals you are using do not spoil or discolor them.

Textile

Washing fabric bags in a washing machine is a great way to sanitize bags, both inside and out. If you have a much larger bag or bag on wheels, you can wipe it down with microfiber cloths and disinfectant or disinfectant wipes.

For a deeper clean, fill a bucket with warm water and 2 tablespoons of mild detergent, or enough to make the water foamy. To dry the bag, use a cloth (microfiber or loofah) or sponge, then wipe with clean water and air dry. You can also coat the bag evenly with a disinfectant cleaning spray and air dry.

Dr. Gerba’s recommendation:

Cloth bags are difficult to disinfect because they are so porous that you must wash them regularly. Use a disinfectant wipe for vinyl bags.

Finally, when cleaning your bags, keep two things in mind. First, it is important that the bag can air dry completely to prevent mold from growing. Second, remember that sponges and rags hold bacteria very well, so if they can’t be washed for any reason, throw them away.

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