Vacuum storage bags can be reused. There are some caveats and you have to clean the bags between each use. But, yes, it’s definitely possible to reuse a vacuum storage bag. This will be easier for things that are dry than for things that are wet or greasy.
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But, this will depend on whether you’re using them for storing fabrics, like blankets and sheets, or for food like meats, veggies and other foodstuffs. While food is the most popular use for vacuum storage bags, it’s not uncommon to use larger ones for clothing, towels and other materials.
Regardless, vacuum storage bags have gained in popularity over the years. They’re convenient, reliable and help to save space.
Can you reuse vacuum seal bags?
While it is possible to reuse vacuum seal bags, there are a few caveats to take into consideration before doing so. In regards to food, you will not be able to reuse a vacuum seal bag if its prior purpose was for raw meats, fat-laden soups or other greasy/oily foods.
For all other cases, they are very much reusable. As a matter of fact, it’s recommended to do so. This is because of how expensive the bags tend to be. The only thing you have to do before reusing it is to first clean the bag well, making sure it’s completely dry.
How many times can you use a vacuum seal bag?
Some people will reuse their vacuum seal bags until worn to the point of no return. There really is no limit to how many times you can repurpose a vacuum seal bag.
However, this will depend on the manufacturer of the bag. Some recommend never reusing them (but this is probably a profit ploy) while others say up to five or seven times. And yet, some companies encourage reusing their bags to infinity.
How do you clean a reusable vacuum seal bag?
Cleaning vacuum seal bags is fairly simple and straightforward. However, there are several precautions to undertake before doing so. In some cases it may be better to use a new bag and throw the old one away.
This is because of how bacteria can live and fester inside the bag, even after you clean it. But this will impinge on what was sitting in it.
Prior Cleaning Considerations
Before you take the time and effort to clean out your vacuum seal bag for reusing, consider what the contents were. If they were dry goods like fabrics, vegetables, fruits or even marshmallows, you can and should reuse it.
However, if there was raw meat, fish, cheese or eggs, do not reuse the bag and throw it out entirely. This is because bacteria can still remain regardless and long after you’ve cleaned the bag. Such a standard will also be true for things that were greasy, oily or had a general, overall messiness.
If the seal broke during its prior use, you will want to cut that portion off so you can create a new seal with the vacuum device. This means you want to ensure you have at least 1½ inches of room between the top of the bag and whatever you put in it.
Cleaning the Vacuum Sealer Bags
You can clean out the bags with soap and hot water, put the used bags in the dishwasher or do both. Doing both is ideal. Hand washing them will get out the initial gunk and particles along with potential bacteria. The dishwasher will remove any residue leftover and sterilize the bags.
- Soap and Water: Ensure all the bits and pieces are out of the bag. Then, turn it inside out and rise with hot water. Take some dish soap with a soft sponge and scrub out the inside, paying particular attention to the corners. Rinse the bags well with more warm water until all food particles and soap are gone.
- Dishwashing: Do not put your dishwater setting to the highest and hottest; this has the potential to destroy the bags. But, you want it to be hot enough to clean the bags while also disinfecting them. You can use plastic clothes pins or potato chip clips to keep bag open during washing.
Regardless of which method you choose, ensure the bags are entirely dry and free of any amount of moisture. When in doubt, leave it and go for another clean, dry bag for now.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
Do not store anything in a vacuum bag that’s wet in any capacity. This will destroy food, force mold to grow on fabrics and create a host of other yucky issues. Then, ensure you store the bags in a safe, dry place that’s free of moisture, sharp objects and access to pets or children.
After using a dishwasher, check the bags for shrinkage. This will determine what you’ll be able to use the bags for later on. It’s important you inspect the bags once they come out of the dishwasher. Look for shrinkage, tears, holes and other defects that may render the bags unusable.
You have to throw out any damaged bags unless you can find some other purpose for them. Also, when there’s less than three inches available for the whole bag, throw it away or repurpose it. There just isn’t enough room for the vacuum seal to be effective.
Are vacuum bags worth it?
Whether vacuum bags are worth the investment or not boils down to personal preference. In most cases, yes, vacuum bags are very much worth it.
- Retains Form: Vacuum sealer bags keep food in its initial state. For instance, many people swear by using them for delicate morel mushrooms. You can pull them out of the freezer after six months and, once thawed, look and taste just like the day they came home.
- Helps Save Money: A vacuum sealer bag helps when buying food in bulk. Certainly, there will be far more than you can consume in a reasonable amount of time. Using a freezer bag allows you to keep food nice and fresh until you’re ready to consume it.
- Organization: One great feature about vacuum sealer bags is the ability to organize foods in the freezer. It also opens up options for future meal preparations.
- Waste Reduction: Reusing vacuum storage bags means less garbage, recycling and general overall waste. This translates to earth-friendly and sustainable options for food storage.
- Long-Term Food Preservation: Freezing leftovers can make food last past expiration. Using vacuum sealed bags extends that expiration date even further. Meats can last up to two years and cheese up to six months.
You can reuse vacuum sealing bags, but you must clean them well ahead of time and they must be bone dry. The point is to avoid mold, bacteria and other microorganisms from contaminating anything else that may go into the bag in the future.
This means you should never reuse bags that had raw foods such as meats, general dairy and eggs. These are sure bacteria builders that will stick to the inside surface. As long as you can follow these simple steps, reusing your vacuum bags is not only a good idea, but it’s also advisable.