Ways to Reuse Your Plastic Bags

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Do you have plastic bags taking up space in your home and don’t want to just toss them out? There are so many ways to reuse your plastic bags and today I’m happy to share them with you!

Do you have plastic bags taking up space in your home and don't want to just toss them out? There are so many ways to reuse your plastic bags and today I'm happy to share them with you! #plasticbags #reusebags #recycleplastic

Ways to Reuse Your Plastic Bags

If you are like most families, you probably have a million plastic bags hanging around your house. That’s why you need some great tips on how you can reuse those plastic bags!

It seems like no matter how hard we try, we still end up with some plastic bags around our home. I do have this cute and functional set of reusable bags that I keep in the car for shipping trips, but sometimes those get forgotten or your cashier seems a bit confused when you tell them “no plastic” (yes, this just happened to me last week!).

How to Reuse Plastic Bags

1. Give Them a Second Life
It may be your first instinct to throw away those plastic bags after you use them. However, give reusing them a second thought. There are so many chances to reuse those plastic bags a second time. Let me give you a few ideas.
Keep a few plastic bags in your diaper bag, glove compartment, and in your car. You never know when you will need a bag to put something in. Honestly, plastic bags are perfect for those really stinky smells that you need to conceal before you take the garbage completely out.

2. Recycle Them
Just because you don’t have a use for those plastic bags, give someone else a chance to reuse them. There are several recycling options when it comes to plastic bags. Recycle them at your local grocery store, independent recycling center, or even ask around to see who else could reuse the plastic bags you have sitting around your home. Many smaller grocery stores, health food stores, and thrift stores would be very grateful to reuse your plastic bags!

3. Trash Bags
Maybe you don’t think sticking a grocery bag in a garbage can looks very classy, but it’s a great way to save the environment another plastic bag. Also, don’t forget by reusing these plastic bags as trash bags, you can save a few bucks. I like to use mine in the bathroom trash can, it’s just the right size!

4. Pet Scooper
Who says you need those fancy bags to scoop up after your dog or cat? Plastic grocery bags are thicker than those thin scooping bags. You might even save yourself from getting a close encounter with some of your dog’s waste.

–Find more Frugal Pet Care tips here.

5. Packaging
Moving soon or think you will be moving someday? Nothing makes for a better packaging device than grocery bags. They are light, fluffy, and make for a great cushion. Plus, if you save up a ton over time, you will have enough to pack all your valuables in for your next move. You can also use plastic bags for shipping fragile stuff through the USPS. I especially like them for packing versus paper because you don’t get ink on your fingers or your items! We also like to pack hubby’s lunch in them when he needs to grab it and go.

6. Free Stuffing
Have a project that you are working on? Maybe a little dog bed or something else that needs some stuffing? Polyester stuffing can get expensive, especially if you have a large project. If plastic stuffing will work for your project it can be a great, money-saving alternative!

7. Quickie Wet Bag
If you are using cloth diapers or cloth pads and are at the store but forgot a wet bag, what do you do? Always carry a plastic bag in your purse, you never know when you might need it! I also like to have one in my purse for days when we are in the car for a long time and will need a handy trash bag to clean up when we stop somewhere with a trash can.


8. Help Protect Your Plants
If the weather calls for a light frost and you have plants outside that need to be protected, a simple layer using a plastic bag can be just what they need. Just remember to have a way to stake the bag down over the plant if it’s going to be windy. We’ve done this many times!

–Find more Frugal Gardening tips here.

9. Keep the Frost Away
If you don’t have a garage or an indoor place to park your car and you know the weather is going to be cold and wet/snowy, take a plastic bag and place it over each of your car’s side mirrors to protect them from frosting over. It will save you so much time in the morning if you need to go somewhere.

10. Makeshift Knee Pads
If you plan to be out working in your flower beds or around your garden and are going to be doing plenty of kneeling, you can tie the bags around your knees to keep your pants from getting stained and dirty. While it won’t do much to pad your knees, it can help to extend the life of your pants.

11. Fill in Gaps
If you find gaps in the walls, windows, and doors where cold air is coming through and you aren’t able to fix them another way right away, you can always stuff the gaps with plastic bags until you can fix the problem.

–Get more tips on Winter Weather Preparedness here.

12. Braid Them
There are so many different fun things that you can make with plastic bag braids such as baskets or jump ropes. Start braiding and let your imagination take over!

Does all this reusing really help? Yes! Did you know that less than 9 percent of grocery bags are recycled in the United States according to the EPA? Plastic bags can often be reused several times without ruining them. After you are done, simply recycle them. Plus you can save yourself a little money by coming up with new ways to reuse your plastic bags instead of buying something else.


If you are planning on hanging on to your plastic bags to store them until you can reuse them, you might want to make one of these cute Easy Bag Holder Sewing Pattern to keep them in. It’s such a handy little thing to store lots of bags in!

Want to get some reusable bags so that you aren’t bringing so much plastic home. This Folding Reusable Bag set is my favorite because they are so easy to store in my car or purse!

What ways do you reuse your plastic bags?


This blog post on Reusing Plastic Bags was originally posted on Little House Living in September 2013. It has been updated as of September 2019.

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  1. I minimize the number we have by mostly bringing reusable shopping bags with us, but we still seem to end up with quite a few bags. My bags get re-used to take lunch/snacks with us and then again as liners in small trashcans. Any bags with holes get dropped at our grocery store for recycling.

    1. I use them for Christmas ornaments too and this way I can sort them by color or type, because we like to decorate differently from year to year, trying different combinations and looks you can make a note on the bag or loop a scrap piece of colored ribbon that corresponds with what is inside. This year I will be grabbing the Blue bag, Silver bag, and the one with clear icycles, and the one with white lights, Viola, easy peasy Christmas… 🙂

  2. I re-use my grocery bags for bathroom garbage can use (just like you mentioned), we also used them for packing things in our last move to our new house!

  3. I try to minimize the number we have by mostly bringing reusable shopping bags with us, but we still seem to end up with quite a few bags. I re-cycle the ones that are in bad shape & cannot be re-used. The others I save in a bag & take them to the Salvation army or food bank. They can always use more bags.

  4. I was wondering if I could take the plastic bags and put them in my vacuum sealer. If I cut a typical bag into three pieces and sealed all edges except one, they would be excellent dog waste bags.

    1. Pamela…I wouldn’t use the plastic grocery bags for wrapping food. They contain BPA (a known carcinogen). Please keep them away from your food!

  5. I yse the grocery bag plastics for lining all my garbage cans. If you have a small (1-2 adults) these are perfect for the regular trash.

    If you get the newspaper and it comes in a plastic bag. Try this. Use the daily bag for the pet (dog walks or to keep the kitty litter a little fresher). The Sunday paper bag is usally bigger and I use that for my kitchen composting waiste. I line a bowl with the bag, carry it it out to the compost bin, empty it and through the bag in the trashcan. No mess on the counter; no mess in the sink. usually no mess in the bowl, and no mess on my hands!

    1. Right, where they are taken home by people who are probably not good recyclers. I routinely refuse bags, and always bring my own, whether I’m in a regular retail store or a thrift store.

  6. I also save the wax paper bags out of cereal boxes and re-use them. They are heavy duty and work great for breads, rolls, muffins and many other things!

    1. We do this too, the cereal bags are great for messy shake-ups that are not fun to clean after, like making Chex “Muddy Buddies” or homemade shak’n bake chicken.. or to keep the last few biscuits fresh, or even to store something short term in the freezer..

    2. I do too, Cheryl! I use my cereal-box bags to cover a dish I’m using in the microwave so what I’m cooking or heating won’t splatter. Cereal-box liners are a sanity saver, I’ll tell you that!

  7. I use mine to crochet cute beach bags. They are perfect to take to the beach or to the hot springs in the winter time, plus how can you beat free material? I also use them for all my trash bags except for my kitchen ones. 🙂

  8. I make my own cat toys, a bit of plastic bag sewn between fabric makes the crinkly sound cats love and is light enough that they can bat it around!

  9. my husband uses them inside his winter boots helps put the boots on.. keep them dry and helps with a little more insulation.

  10. the news paper plastic bags are perfect to put your hand and arm in when filling your gas tank…. no more gasoline smell

  11. Wow! so many great ideas, I reuse plastic bags and cereal bags, and save our purchased ziplocks for more noble tasks. we use them as trashliners and quicker picker uppers for disgusting messes that you dont want to touch 😛 , just stick your hand in the bag and use like a glove grab the mess and one swift move, and the mess is inside the wrong-side-out bag, and your hand is unscathed 🙂 .. we use them to sort various things and as extra protection from buggies in storage, toss in a dried bay leaf or mint, or a chunk o’cedar and it repells most buggies, and keeps your bulky winter things contained. or to keep my jars in storage cleaner, I keep a couple folded neatly in a pouch in my purse to protect a “doggy bag” or an emergency raincap ect…. I also save my 5olb dogfood bags, the woven plastic ones can be sewn together for tarps, the waxy paper ones are great for working under the car, or as a liner under your tent or picnic blanket or you can use as a giant bag for storage… I keep several handy for if I have to climb under the house, if I save for a couple years I might could line the entire under pinning of the trailer, with an Old Roy’esk fashion statement (or use the blank side 🙂 )… great for winterizing too…

  12. When folding up my reusable cloth shopping bags I first put a couple of the plastic bags in the bottom of it. It’s more sanitary to put meat and produce products in the plastic before putting them in the cloth bags. Having them in the bottom of the bag I’m always sure I’m prepared.

    I also hang one on the door knob on the inside of the girls’ closet for clothes they’ve outgrown. Those busy mornings when I put a shirt on them that no longer fits doesn’t have to go to the floor or back into the drawer till later. Just toss it in the bag and when it’s full drop it off at donations or set it back till I have a few of them filled.

  13. I’ve recently started to layer them, sandwich them between brown crafting paper, then melting them with a low-iron (set on wool) so that I have one piece.. This then can be sandwiched between two pieces of cotton and sewn into reusable sandwich or snack bags.

  14. Great ways to reuse plastic bags! if you have a little time on your hands, cutting plastic into thin strips, you can weave your own welcome mat for your home or for gifts.

  15. I do all of the tips mentioned to reuse/recycle plastic bags. I have not attempted to braid or crochet them. However my city is working towards eliminating the use of plastic bags and single use plastics. I bring cloth bags for shopping and keep a few plastic bags in my car for any emergencies.

  16. My municipality has a bin outside government building to collect them. They are turning them into park benches.