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Publication #FSHN20-24

COVID-19 Preventative Measures: Cleaning and Disinfecting Reusable Bags1

Natalie Seymour, Mary Yavelak, Candice Christian, and Ben Chapman2

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 pread 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


    • 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, nd to pay extra attention to bags used to carry raw animal products.

For more info, visit:

(800) 232-4636

Updated March 27, 2020



This document is FSHN20-24, one of a series of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date March 2020. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication. © NCSU. Used with permission.


Natalie Seymour, MS, Extension associate; Mary Yavelak, MS, Extension associate; Candice Christian, MPH, Extension associate; and Ben Chapman, professor, food safety specialist; NC State University Extension. UF Contact: Michelle Danyluk, professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center, Lake Alfred, FL | | (863) 956-8654.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.