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COVID-19 Preventative Measures: Cleaning and Disinfecting Reusable Bags1

Natalie Seymour, Mary Yavelak, Candice Christian, and Ben Chapman 2

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


1. 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.
2. 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.

Publication #FSHN20-24

Date:May 20th, 2020

  • Critical Issue: Agricultural and Food Systems
Fact Sheet


  • Michelle Danyluk