How to store plastic bags.

I have spent the past 2 days looking at every possible way to store plastic bags on the Internet. Pinterest, for example, has about 10 really cool looking ways to store them that are linked to over and over again.

You know the types of bags I’m talking about. Those plastic grocery bags you have to use when you run into the grocery store without your reusable cloth bags, because you left them sitting in your trunk.

The people of Pinterest, for some reason, believe I want to iron, fold, flatten out or roll my plastic bags. I do not. I want to shove them. I don’t care if they look particularly cute while sitting under my sink. I don’t care if they impress people with how cleverly they’re arranged. I want to shove them under my sink so they’re easy to get at and don’t float around the entire cupboard when I want to grab one.

Why, after bashing around the grocery store with a cart that alternates between only going right and skidding to a stop every few feet, coming home putting away the groceries, realizing I forgot the mandarin oranges and the inevitable cleaning out the fridge to make room for the peppertettes I was again compelled to buy … would I want to sit down on the floor, flatten and fold all my plastic bags into thirds, lay them on top of each other and roll them into a tube? I would not.

The intention of course was to find a brilliant way for storing plastic bags, which I would then introduce to you. I could picture it immediately. Me finding the ultimate plastic bag storage idea, implementing and photographing it under flattering light, you my adoring readers gasping and holding your hands to your hearts. This was exactly how Nobel Prizes were won.

But all of the ideas were … O.K., if I’m being my true self … they were ridiculous. If I’m being “hey I’m a blogger and every idea has at least some good in it …, they were ridiculous.

The worst thing about these storage ideas and in fact, dare I say it, Pinterest in general, is it’s often based around super-cute photos. I love Pinterest for inspiration but when it comes to some of the DIYS, they excel more at highlighting the overuse of  chalkboard lettering than actual usability.

The biggest problem with all of the plastic bag storage solutions was they took too much time to do and … they didn’t work. One suggestion was to stuff all your plastic bags in a can with a plastic lid, cut a slit in the lid and pull the bags you’ve shoved into the can out. Great. Paint the can all pretty and stuff.

can

The problem with this solution is  it’s only the first bag that will pull out of the can and the rest just stay shoved in there until you pop the lid off to pull one out and 5 or 6 randomly assert their freedom at the same time.

The other big one on Pinterest was the flag fold.  Laying out any garbage/plastic bag and folding it up into a triangle like a tiny flag to be presented to a family of freedom fighting mice.

mouse-flag-bag-2

 

I’ve done it before.  I’ll admit it.  I’ve done the flag bag.  It’s the kind of thing you’d sit and do while watching television.  But it isn’t a solution for a quick way to stash plastic bags.

 

Then there’s the roll er up solution.  This involves laying out you plastic bags, bag by bag, flattening them out and then folding them in half.  Then you place bag after bag after bag on top of each other until you’ve run out of room or bags or sanity and then you roll them up.  This creates a neat little roll of plastic bags that you’re supposed to be able to pull out from the centre with the next bag following in succession.

roll-bags

 

 

The first problem with this is the fact that when you come home with more plastic bags in a day or two you can’t just add them to the roll.  You have to save the bags up and wait until you have enough saved to make another roll.  Which means you shove them under your sink like you always did and never, ever make another roll again.

The rest of the suggestions were too ridiculous to even consider.  Like sewing an old shirt up and filling it with plastic bags.  Huh?  People are even reupholstering boxes and crates complete with trim, piping and batting.  omg.  I just wanna find a place to shove my grocery bags and it’s looking more and more like that place is going to be up Pinterest’s ass.

Don’t misunderstand. I will spend an inordinate amount of time on ridiculous things.  This Sparkle wipe dispenser for instance.  But some things are worth my time and other things aren’t.   YOU may think an upholstered, piped crate specifically for your bags that will take up more room than just shoving them inside themselves in your cupboard is a great way to spend your time because you love reupholstering and you just ran out of solid white, 2,000 piece  jigsaw puzzles to do.  But I do not.

To each his or her own.  (I’m just saying that to at least appear somewhat accommodating on the subject)

So what was my solution?  How did I solve the great grocery bag dilemma?

I didn’t.

You’re up.
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247 Comments

  1. Katbert says:

    Dear Karen … Do you realize you wrote 19 paragraphs about how to store plastic bags? We need to talk because I’m on your page!

  2. shuckclod says:

    I use a square puffs / kleenex box. It will hold 25 or so. I cut one in half for veggie bags that fit in the drawer. Save your empty boxes for all kinds of stuff (crap). They are already printed cute. I keep them out in the garage.

  3. Holly says:

    Mine isn’t pretty or perfect, but works OK. I stuff all of them inside one bag, and have the bag shoved in-between the wall and the refrigerator – a space of about 4 inches. When it’s stuffed full enough, the bag will stay put. It’s unobtrusive. It works fine as long as you don’t ball all of them up after a shopping trip. Shove them in separately. Then you just pluck from the top. I re-use them constantly – for food scraps that will start to stink before the trash pick-up (3 or 4), dog poop, small trash liners, stuffed around breakable ornaments in storage container, etc.

    • Patti says:

      Between the fridge and wall technique is mine too!!! I have less space then you so stuffing it up is a breeze! Where I need it, can’t really see it, no rolling or fussing, just stuff it. I use them for all things already mentioned. Also, when i shop at those places that have more”quality” bags, i stuff them into one and stuff high away from those inferior bags (cat poop bags and such) and save for family and friends take-out bags … I cook a lot and have an abundant garden! This is my non-system system of handling those pesky but useful bags!

  4. Kimberly M says:

    I tie mine in a knot and shove them in a bag in my laundry room… Once in a while I’ll remember to recycle them, but mostly they are just used for cat poop and bathroom trash cans. I have used them as packing fluff during one of our several moves over the years. They work great for wrapping up cups, plates, candles, other breakables. Since we’re about to move again to another base I’ve been stockpiling them for that very reason lol. Cheaper than bubble wrap.

  5. Valerie says:

    My way of coping with the plastic bags is the end result of trying many of the suggestions above and being frustrated with them. I have a large bottle the type in which restaurants receive salad dressings etc. I like it because it is heavy (important) and doesn’t move around in the bottom cupboard where it lives. When I get home from the grocery store I unpack one bag of groceries and then wrap the bag around my fingers (no knot or ties) and put it in the bottle. They appear one at a time when I need them – little circles. Since I have a septic system I cannot put liquified fats down the sink – I simply pour into a plastic bag and put it in the garbage. I tried the cardboard tissue box thingo but this moved around in the cupboard too much and the opening was too small. On a side note: an elderly lady in this village cuts her bags into strips and knits them with giant needles into waterproof carry alls which I am delighted to say I am recipient; great for wet bathing suits and they keep lunches dry in rainy weather – pure genius!

  6. Linda says:

    We use the reusable cloth bags here, but I can definitely relate to the stray plastic bag with the “stink” to it! We usually just ball em up and stuff em in a bag that’s a little bigger to collect em for the small trash cans as liners or when cleaning out the litter box…double up a couple of those puppies and no worry about stinky litter following you out the door…because one of the bags had a pin hole big enough to allow a leak…or we’ll just use it to toss an entire plastic bowl of mystery science project that was left in the fridge…for who knows how long…and you’re afraid to open it to find out what it might have been…Just toss said unopened bowl (this step is important…DO NOT LIFT THE LID OF SAID BOWL!) into those handy plastic bags and toss into your recycling bin outside. You’re good to go! Pepperettes sound awesome (pepperoni freak here)!

  7. Debbie says:

    “I have spent the past 2 days looking at every possible way to store plastic bags on the Internet.”

    Karen, I was wondering why you wanted to store your plastic bags on the Internet? Not very convenient for retrieval!

    That said, we store our plastic grocery bags in the lady who hangs on the door’s rear end! We’ve been going this for years. Someone just puts their hand up her rear and grabs a bag. We even let company do it!

    I do think ours is prettier, but here is the idea: http://www.ebay.com/bhp/plastic-bag-holder-doll

    There is a loop on her head to hand her on a door knob or a hook. I know, she is a little loopy.

    • Langela says:

      I was going to say the same thing- why would you store plastic bags on the internet? Is it a real thing? Why have I never heard of this before? So, once you get this other, trivial, thing figured out, please tell us how to store them on the internet.

      Btw, I cram mine into an empty coffee can and snap the lid back on. When it’s so full you spill them upon opening, you have enough– dispose or recycle them.

  8. KiwiKat says:

    I was trying to find a picture – this is the closest I’ve found http://www.makeit-loveit.com/2009/01/grocery-bag-holder.html – of the type of thing we use. This is far fancier though…our one is drawstring top and bottom and is simply a tube. The drawstring is great because you can tighten or loosen it, depending on how “stuffed” the tube is with bags…

  9. Anti Kate says:

    I keep the reusable bags in the car, inside the hard plastic cooler that lives back there, too. When I was training myself to use them, and I would forget them in the house, I had to BUY MORE of them when I was checking out at the store. Fiscal punishment and feeling dopey mostly did the trick for me. I now own about 20 of these bags and usually at least half of them are in the car.

    The cheap plastic bags? I try not to bring them home, and if I must, they get recycled immediately with the other plastics.

  10. Laura says:

    My sweet, old man neighbor likes to bring me treasures from the Goodwill. Once he brought a 15″ tall, narrow blue & white china vase that works perfectly for shoving those bags into while making them easily accessible to grab when needed. It tucks into a little spot on the floor in my kitchen.

    • Langela says:

      I like this idea and will have to look for some sort of antique enamel coffee pot or something to do this with. That way it can sit out looking all pretty and stuff and be useful, too.

  11. Christy says:

    Shove them all in one bag. Done. Or….take ’em back to the store and put them in their ‘recycle your bags’ container.

    I like the tube sock idea though.

    What is a pepperette.

    Oh, and Karen you are very funny btw.

  12. Melanie says:

    Ikea, of course, have a very simple solution… the VARIERA plastic bag dispenser, attach it to the inside of a cupboard door, stuff your bags in any which way and then pull them out of any of the multiple holes… easy fix!
    http://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/10136512/

  13. Karen says:

    i have a holder my grandmother made from a tea towel… Kind of needs to hang on something, but definitely has the “just shove them in” thing going for it … Something like this: http://www.blessingsoverflowing.com/hand-towel-plastic-bag-holder/

  14. Sonja Donnelly says:

    I admit I smooth out and fold the bags twice each direction and then push them into an empty Kleenex box. The box holds an incredible amount of bags. I pull one out each weak to line my kitchen trash , and they come out easily every time. When I can’t get any more in the box, the rest go into the store recycle bin. The box nestles nicely in a kitchen drawer.

  15. Karen says:

    This was my mother’s idea. She took a tea towel, folded it in half long ways, stitched a seam up the side, making a tube. Then sewed some elastic around one end in a gathered sleeve fashion. Sewed a 10 inch length of grosgrain ribbon on the top like a handle. Hang by the ribbon on a hook, shove the bags in the top all the way to the bottom. Pull them out the bottom. Gravity does the rest.

    • dee says:

      And it works great! I got a whack of them for a quarter each at Sally Ann once-great stocking stuffers!

    • Martha says:

      My mother-in-law made me one of these fabric holders, complete with a loop for hanging. I’ve had it for years, works like a charm. Mine has elastic on the top and bottom, I guess to keep them from floating out the top which seems to be a particular frustration for you Karen – the floating I mean. You could have one whipped up on your fancy sewing machine in no time! (If you’re thinking of posting it on Pinterest maybe monogram it first…)

      • Audrey says:

        I wondered when someone would mention this one. I make them out of fabric and sell them at the gift shop at the local senior center. Just a tube, open at both ends, elastic, hanging loop at the top, doesn’t take much fabric, great way to use up remnants. I have mine hanging on the outside of my pantry door. I use lots of plastic bags for kitty litter and other garbage. I “forget” to take my totes into the grocery store occasionally when I begin to run out of plastic bags. :-)

    • This is my technique too. I think the tube sock would probably work pretty similarly without the need for elastic. The tea towel has greater capacity though.

  16. Mel says:

    I’m in California, so I haven’t seen one of these plastic bags in months. We can still get them in the produce section, but I find that they’re not durable enough to be saved. We used to have one of the Ikea things that’s been mentioned, and somewhere, there’s a tube of fabric with elastic at both ends and a ribbon to hang it with. It’s a prettier version of the tube-sock thing.

    • Karen says:

      You have to pay for plastic bags here if you forget your totes. The only place that doesn’t have bags at all is Ikea. If you forget your tote you’re screwed. ~ karen!

    • Pam says:

      Yep, I’m in SF where most plastic bags are banned. Not to be too preachy, but it’s really not hard to bring your own reusable bags. I keep a foldable bag in my purse for when I’m on foot, and several in my car for grocery runs. When I did have those yucky plastic bags around (to use for litter box duty) I stashed them in a drawer. Though I do like Jamie Lynn’s tube sock storage!

      • Karen says:

        Yes, I know, that’s why I mentioned the pile of them in my trunk, lol. But no matter how hard you try, there are going to be times when you do forget them. Or don’t bring enough of them. It’s not particularly hard to always have tampons on hand either but everyone runs out of those at one point or another too. It’s just life. Besides I like having the odd plastic bag around. I use them for storing chicken carcasses in the freezer for making soup later, for used kitty litter, lining garbage cans etc. ~ karen!

      • Pam says:

        I feel like there’s a witty comeback linking tampons to your ‘up Pinterest’s ass’ comment but I can’t quite come up with it. :-)

      • Karen says:

        Probably a butt plug joke would work well in there too if we finesse it a bit too. We might have to restart this entire conversation from the get go and see if we can’t get it right. ~ karen!

      • Pam says:

        Haha! I’m up for it if you are!

    • Nancy says:

      Same here, no plastic bags. I have to shop out of town to get a supply. My mom made everyone those tubes with elastic at the top and bottom out of nice teas towels but she shoves her own into an empty 12 can coke box. Coca cola, that is. The tea towel things work great. I never thought in a million years of folding a bag. Those people probably have attractively folded fitted sheets too.

    • Elizabeth Sellon says:

      That’s what I have too. It works great hangs inside my undersink cabinet. Easy in, easy out and pretty to boot! Anything that doesn’t fit in sleeve gets put in my reusable totes and recycled on the next trip to the store.

  17. SusanKate says:

    I’ve used this forever. It’s screwed into the inside of my pantry cabinet and you can cram way more bags into it than anybody can think is possible. I usually use my bags for lunch bags for work. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C28U3LO/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00C28U3LO&linkCode=as2&tag=tharofdost-20&linkId=DH4LWKLWGV75RHA2

    • Ev Wilcox says:

      Mine looks different, but works the same way. But most of the bags get shoved into a bin and when there a lot of them they go back to grocery store for recycle. I use them for many things–hope they don’t ban them here. Since we are very into recycling I don’t feel guilty saying that!

  18. melanie dahlan says:

    I do the loose knot too. It makes the bag real small and easy to grab

  19. Sheryl says:

    First, what in heck are peppertettes? And do I need some? My solution is almost like the tube sock. I found a cloth tube/bag at goodwill that is only open on top. I just wad em up and stuff em in (or yank em out). Warning! Once I had a horrible odor in my pantry worse by the day, until I finally took every can out to see if one was leaking and rotting or what. Moved every last stinking item in that pantry and the smell just got worse. About a week later after holding our breath to use the pantry my hubby came swinging that damn bag of bags in front of my nose. OMG. Apparently one of the grocery bags had a bit of blood, intestines or brains on the inside. Don’t forget to check this hotbed of germy odoriferous if you have a pantry smell.

    • Karen says:

      Pepperettes are small dried pepperoni sticks. Italian style pepperoni. Pretty much everyone needs them. They do not include brains as far as I know. ~ karen!

  20. Wendi Miller says:

    Okay folks, Karen’s talking to YOU! And I’m waiting patiently for your awesome ideas because I, too, have been searching for the best way to store these grocery bags. I was just getting ready to try the stagger-stack and roll idea, but I didn’t realize you couldn’t add more bags to the roll. Pffftt! Having the “roll” of bags AND a bag of bags waiting to be rolled pretty much defeats the purpose, which is basically trying to use our space more efficiently! Looking forward to some freakin’ cool ideas… ;o)

  21. Anne says:

    Stuff another plastic bag full of all the others. When you have it so full that you are starting on the second one, take the first one, fully loaded back to the store to be recycled. Or you can use the overflow to use as packing when you are sending stuff anywhere. OR, when worse comes to worse, you could just put them in the trash. I use many of mine as daily small trash bags as ours is only hauled away once a week. Cuts down on the odor.

    • Karen says:

      That’s exactly what I do now Anne, lol. I don’t like it because it takes up too much space and floats all over the place in the cupboard. I need something more compact I think. The sock idea is lookin’ pretty good actually. Did you see that comment? ~ karen!

      • Suzanne says:

        I do this, too, but I hang the bag that is full of the other bags on the door handle inside my pantry/laundry room.

      • Gwennie says:

        Using a piece of PVC piping would do the job and look sleek at the same time… adding chalkboard paint is optional.

      • Deb says:

        I put two small cup hooks on the inside of the cabinet door under my sink. Hang a bag by its handles and stuff all the others inside. I also cut the legs off of a pair of sweatpants once, because who doesn’t think sweatshorts are a fashion statement. I hung one of the up on a hook with the elastic ankle at the bottom. It’s perfect. Shove the bags in the top and pull them one at a time out the bottom.

      • Margaret says:

        The ikea one is the best. I have one under the sink that I use for the clear plastic produce bags. I use those for the compost bin on the counter and I keep another one in the broom closet with grocery sized plastic bags that I use to line waste paper baskets. It’s really sturdy and awesome. I only just adopted the separation policy two months ago and I am amazed by how much more practical it is!!

      • Judy says:

        I roll a second roll of bags up and use one bag around the middle of the roll to keep it from unrolling. When my can gets down to the last two or three bags, I untie my spare roll, add the loose bags and put them in the can. I am good to go pretty quickly.

  22. Debbie from Illinois says:

    I have a wall mounted plastic bag holder from Ikea hanging on the wall in my pantry to store my bags. In my RV I have a empty tissue box I store bags in. That works pretty well.

    • Karen says:

      Yes, I actually saw the tissue box idea and thought it might have potential. I use a paper towel tube for storing all the light, plastic produce bags I end up with. I love those bags. I seem to use them over and over all the time. ~ karen!

      • Beckie says:

        I use a cube style tissue box and it works wonderfully. WHen it would get beat up, I’d just save a new box. Last year, my young niece was into covering every possible surface in pretty duct tape and she did tissue boxes (because she saw it on Pinterest, the tweens use them for pencils & markers, I’m told) I asked her to cover a couple of cube boxes for me and they have held up amazingly.

        Without the tape reinforcement, I’d say one box would usually last at least a year, maybe longer.

      • JMC says:

        Yes on the tissue box. Just ball the bag up and shove it in there. I used the rectangular box – have had the same one for a couple of years.

      • Andrea says:

        Just converted to tissue box. You can just shove them in but what is really spiffy and only takes an extra second – put a bag in so the handle is sticking out the top like a Kleenex would be. Easy to grab. When you have another bag to shove in you stick the closed end through the handle of the bag sticking out a little way and shove the bags in until just the handle of the new bag is sticking up. Keep doing that. If you put the bags in that way, each time you pull one out, a new one pops up (the way Kleenex does)

    • danni says:

      The IKEA one is perfect. I had to use more screws, 3-m stickies and nails to get it good and stuck so I can really rank on it when both I shove them in and tear them out, but it was $3 maybe? and solved my problem. I keep one inside the door of the pantry and one in the garage (so I can get bags quickly for all kinds of outside/car/pet/garage crises).

      • Tracy says:

        I love my IKEA bag holder! It’s perfect!

      • Janet says:

        Yep I second the Ikea bag holder. My city just banned plastic bags though (yay environment!), so I won’t be filling it up anymore. Trying to think of what else I might be able to use it for. :/

      • Nickelnog says:

        Send it to Karen?

      • Heather says:

        Also works amazing to hold rolls or wrapping paper.

      • Sherrye says:

        I saw another blog to use the Ikea bag holder for rolls of gift wrap. store it in a closet.

      • Gary says:

        If it’s the same model I have, you can also use it to store spare rolls of toilet paper. Works on most rolls except the super jumbo ones.

      • Jenny says:

        Our house came with an IKEA plastic bag holder. I love it. It’s super handy and really stands up to tons of bags being shoved in it and then yanked out.
        My mom had a double oven when I was in high school. We rarely used the bigger bottom oven bc it had a tendency to blow the kitchen fuse so my mom would stuff all our plastic bags in there (plus the ubiquitous roaster pan, etc). That was always fun when visitors realized that our oven was full of plastic bags. :) And I can tell you that not once did anyone forget to take the bags out before starting the oven. Because that would just be silly.

    • Korrine Johnson says:

      I’m a big fan of the Ikea doo-dad. It has holes all over so you can pull a bg out from just about anywhere and it’s CHEAP.

    • Carswell says:

      I got one of those years ago. It hangs in my basement stairwell – the door is in the kitchen. Works for me.

  23. Lori says:

    I admit, I am a flag folder. I “fold my flags” right after I put my groceries away–I feel like I am being productive while giving myself a ‘break’, more bags fit in one place, and it gives my friends some thing to tease me about. Multi-tasking at its finest!

    • Tanya B says:

      I am a flag folder too, and everyone gives me a hard time about it. I just laugh and point out how many bags I have in one tiny spot, and they usually walk away shaking their heads.

  24. Lesley says:

    I keep mine in a flat-bottomed paper carrier bag under the sink beside my wee garbage bin. The flat bottom means it stays upright. I tie each of the plastic bags in a large loose knot so that when I pull one out of the paper bag only that one bag comes out, and also I can fit more in that way. I use most of them in my garbage can.

    • Ashley says:

      That’s precisely what I do, and I find it very convenient! The large loose knot is key to the bags not getting caught up on other bags in the storage.

      Cheers!

  25. Jamie Lynn says:

    i use an old tube sock. no lie. cut off part of the toe, stuff them in the top and pull out the toe hole. i have it hung up inside the cabinet next to the trash can.

    • Kyle says:

      Hi! I’m a little inept this morning and couldn’t figure out how to comment outside of replying.

      I use the SimpleHuman grocery bag dispenser. It’s amazing! You affix it to the inside of your cabinet and then shove the bags in the top and there’s a side slit that you pull them out of. It’s glorious.

    • Kay says:

      I use old tissue boxes you can stuff several into the empty box, they pull out for things you need to use them for. I think I have gotten as many as 30 into one box at a time

      • Kari says:

        This. My mother always did it this way and it worked really well. (I currently have no system, but then I only ever keep about 3 bags in the house at a time).

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