Thanks to multiple city- and state-wide bans on plastic, reusable grocery bags are more popular than ever before—and with good reason. These functional carryalls are not only good for the planet, but can make the trek from the checkout line to your car, and then car to kitchen, more manageable.
With an overwhelming number of options available, searching for the best reusable grocery bags can feel like more work than it’s worth. That’s why we’ve rounded up the top picks based on durability, innovative features, and variety of sizes.
- BEST OVERALL: Creative Green Life Reusable Grocery Shopping Bags
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: BeeGreen Reusable Grocery Bags
- BEST EXTRA LARGE: Household Essentials 2214 Krush Canvas Utility Tote
- BEST UTILITY TOTE: Pursetti Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote Bag
- BEST INSULATED: NZ Home Insulated Grocery Bags
- BEST FOR ORGANIZATION: Lotus Trolley Bags
- BEST FOR PRODUCE: Ecowaare Set of 15 Reusable Mesh Produce Bags
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Reusable Grocery Bags
While there are more reusable grocery bags on the market now than ever before, not all are created equal. When purchasing a new eco-friendly, shopping accessory, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. From machine washable material to collapsable designs, below are the top factors to consider before buying your new reusable grocery bag.
Reusable grocery bags come in a range of materials. However, nylon tends to be the most commonly used material due to its durability and how easy it is to clean. You can wipe nylon bags down with a sanitizing wipe or wet rag or even run them through the washing machine. The other common type of material used to make reusable grocery bags is 210T polyester. Though not quite as strong as nylon, 210T polyester bags tend to be more affordable and are less likely to fade in color due to UV ray exposure.
Neither polyester or nylon are biodegradable and, therefore, cannot be recycled. However, some manufacturers are engineering nylon with eco-friendly, recyclable materials. While the reusable bags themselves may not be recyclable, using them instead of your grocery store’s disposable plastic bags will keep pounds of plastic out of landfills and oceans.
While pretty much any reusable bag will work for any kind of grocery product, there are models out there better suited for specific items.
Insulated bags are best used to transport frozen foods, meats, and warm meals meant to keep their temperature. Some bags are designed with waterproof material, which can be useful if carrying liquids, just in case you have a spill. And when you’re shopping for produce, mesh bags are a great choice as they help keep your fruits and veggies fresh.
There are specially-designed bags to transport bottles or other fragile items, like eggs, and even bags that help you organize your groceries while you shop.
Size and Capacity
It’s better to come to the grocery store with too many reusable bags than not enough. If you still have to use a couple of the store’s plastic bags to get your groceries to your car, it can defeat the purpose of using reusable bags. Plus, if you fill up your tote too much, you risk breaking or ripping it.
That being said, you’ll want to choose a reusable bag that has enough capacity to handle your weekly grocery trips. Pay attention to how much weight a bag can hold, and always opt for one that can hold more. Bags that can hold up to 50 pounds is a good rule of thumb.
As with any new product you bring into your home, you’ll want to consider the space it will take up. Luckily, most reusable grocery bags are designed for easy storage, so they take up minimal room in even the smallest homes.
Collapsible bags usually have a flat surface that can be pushed down to keep your groceries from tipping over and lifted up to help the bag flatten. Foldable bags can be folded up into a small square or even into a pouch for easy storage. If space is a serious issue in your home, you’ll want to go with foldable bags since they take up the least amount of room.
Say goodbye to the struggle of filling up your hands and forearms with too many plastic grocery bags to avoid a second trip to the car. While reusable bags are designed to make those trips easier by allowing more items to fit in fewer bags, some models are more comfortable to carry than others.
Comfort is mostly a point of preference, but when it comes to reusable bags, you might want to look for a product with multiple strap options. Some people prefer the longer straps often found on canvas bags, which enable them to be carried over the shoulder, while others don’t mind shorter, dual straps that you can hold with two hands. The more strap options you have, the more comfortable you’ll be carrying your bags.
While the obvious use for a reusable grocery bag is to transport your groceries, you might want to look for one that has more versatility. For example, foldable tote bags can be used as an everyday bag, an overnight bag, or to carry other, non-grocery items.
You could look for a bag that has multiple straps for different carrying options, a bag with interior insulation, or one that’s reversible with multiple colors. Reusable grocery bags with numerous pockets or other organizational options also add to the item’s versatility.
Ease of Cleaning
Even though you want to avoid spills in your new reusable grocery bag, sometimes it happens. Because this can be a common occurrence, many bags on the market are made with material that’s easy to clean.
When choosing your bag, you’ll want to pick one that’s machine washable, which will usually come in a nylon material. Some reusable grocery bags are water or spill-resistant, which can help prevent messes.
It’s good to note that while you can run most reusable bags through the washing machine, most will not go through the dryer. You’ll need to let them air dry instead.
Finally, many reusable bags come with additional features that can add to their versatility and functionality. Multiple pockets, including some located on the outside of the bag, can hold your keys, wallet, phone, and even a water bottle. Some bags come with a zipper, so you won’t worry about losing a loaf of bread on the sidewalk.
Of course, style is another factor to consider. Many reusable bags are basic and come in various colors, but some newer models are more aesthetically pleasing. And, while you might only need one, many of these bags come in a set of up to 10, which is helpful if you make extensive shopping trips or want to always have a bag on hand.
Our Top Picks
The best reusable grocery bags are durable, come with ample room, and are specifically designed to help you comfortably tote your groceries home. While they can come in various materials and sizes, top-quality bags make grocery shopping a more manageable task. Below we’ve rounded up some of the best reusable bag recommendations from reputable brands, so you can find the right tote for your needs.
With extra-long handles and a reinforced bottom, the Creative Green Life Reusable Grocery Shopping Box Bags are among the top bag sets on the market. The extra-large size of these three bags, with each being 11 inches tall and 13 inches wide, replaces 10 disposable plastic bags per trip.
The box shape and structured design helps keep your grocery items from tipping over on the drive home, and the extra-long handles make it easy to carry larger items or throw the bag over your shoulder. Plus, these affordable bags collapse and fold flat, so they’re convenient to store when not in use.
The only downside to this bag set is that they’re not machine washable. However, you can easily wipe them clean with a sanitizing wipe or damp washcloth.
Easily one of the most affordable bag sets around, the BeeGreen Store Reusable Grocery Bags come in a set of 10 foldable bags that are available in multi-color or single-color packages. With an extra-large capacity, a single bag can hold more than 50 pounds or up to three plastic bags of grocery items. These bags are fabricated from a lightweight yet sturdy polyester material that can be cleaned by running it through the washing machine. Plus, the long straps with stress-reinforced stitching make them easy and comfortable to carry over your shoulder.
Once you’re finished using the bag, you can simply fold it and place it inside its storage zipper pouch. The only drawback to this set is that there is no reinforced bottom, so groceries might not be as secure on the ride home.
The Household Essentials 2214 Krush Canvas Utility Tote is 13 inches tall, 22 inches wide, and 11 inches deep, making it one of the largest reusable grocery bags available. With a water-resistant lining and a fold-and-flatten design, this tote works not only for shopping trips, but also for other errands. The long straps make it easy to carry, and its foldable design makes it convenient to store.
This affordable bag comes in nine different colors, one of which includes two front pockets. The only minuses to this tote are that it’s not machine washable, and its large size might make it bulky to carry to and from the car.
While some reusable bags are designed solely to hold groceries, others, like the Pursetti Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote Bag, can serve many functions. This multipurpose bag comes with six pleated exterior pockets (three on each side), two mesh exterior side pockets, and five interior pockets. The main interior compartment can be zipped up to keep your items secure.
Coming in multiple patterns and in sizes medium and large, this durable bag is made with premium polyester that is easy to clean and folds flat for simple storage. Unfortunately, this tote is not machine washable.
Whether you’re stocking up on your favorite frozen foods or toting some cold beverages, insulated grocery totes like the NZ Home Insulated Grocery Bags can ensure your contents stay fresh.
This two-pack of bags is available in multiple sizes, including medium, large, X-large, and XX-large, and are constructed with two large straps that make the bags easy to carry and stow in your vehicle. The zippered top and durable, thick fabric strengthens the product’s thermal properties and can keep your items chilled or warm for several hours. Plus, the bag’s strong sidewalls will keep your items from falling while you’re on the move.
The one drawback to these bags is that they’re not machine washable and can only be cleaned with a damp washcloth.
Designed to fit in an average-sized grocery cart, Lotus Trolley Bags make it easy to stay organized while you grocery shop. Rods slip inside a pouch just below the handles so they can hang, side by side, in your cart. This set of four bags comes in two color options. One of the bags is a “cooler” to keep items warm or hot for up to two hours, and another includes pockets specifically designed for wine and eggs to protect them from breaking.
Foldable and comfortable to carry, these bags are lightweight and easy to store. Plus, with the exception of the cooler bag, these bags are machine washable. Simply remove the rods, run them through the wash, and allow them to air dry.
However, this unique set is a bit more expensive, and the bags don’t have reinforced bottoms.
While you may be eschewing the disposable bags at checkout in favor of one of the reusable bags above, you’ll still have to use the disposable bags in the produce aisle—unless you have the Ecowaare Set of 15 Reusable Mesh Produce Bags.
Affordable, machine washable, and available in a range of sizes and set quantities, these mesh bags have the potential to eliminate up to 1,000 plastic bags over their lifetime. These bags are BPA-free and made up of ultra-fine mesh polyester that’s strong enough to hold your produce without adding weight at the checkout.
The drawstring keeps your fruit and veggies secure, while the transparent material makes it easy to scan at checkout.
FAQs About Your New Reusable Grocery Bags
Now that you’ve explored the options for some of the best reusable grocery bags, it’s time to answer any remaining questions you have. Below, check out answers to a few common questions about reusable bags and totes to ensure you choose the right one for your next trip to the grocery store.
Q. What are the benefits of using reusable bags?
Reusable bags can result in less plastic in landfills and reduced litter along highways as well as save you money if you live in an area that charges for plastic bags.
Q. How many reusable grocery bags do I need?
It depends on how large your average grocery shopping trips are, but usually two to three will suffice.
Q. How do you clean reusable grocery bags?
It depends on the bag itself, but most can be cleaned with a sanitizing wipe or a damp washcloth. Some can be put in the washing machine.
Q. How do you store reusable grocery bags?
Most reusable bags fold or collapse for easy storage in your car or at home.