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.


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.



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.




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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  1. Louise says:

    I use this super-easy/lazy and very unimaginative method; I simply stuff them into half the cupboard under the sink. There are lots (and LOTS!) in there, so I can just reach in and grab one. Once in a blue moon I’ll have 2 come out at once, but no biggie! I even store stuff in that part of the cupboard; large vases (rarely used) go under the bags, dishwasher soap goes right by the cupboard door. And think of all the time I save by just gathering up all the bags and shoving them into the cupboard!

  2. Danee says:

    We stuff them one by one in one of those big cold food bags that you can find at the store and pull them out as we need them (which is often because we use them for garbage and recycling and then recycle the bags!) We live in Spain, where there is no curbside pickup, recycling and trash bins are grouped together in parking areas throughout our village. It’s also hot hot hot here for most of the year so garbage can’t sit around for more than a day so the grocery bags make perfect sized bags for getting the stinky stuff out of the house. Because of the heat, we aren’t allowed to use the trash bins when the sun is out, there is a heavy duty fine if you get caught putting trash in during daylight and your neighbors who live closer to the bin than you do will give you the stink eye and the old ladies will put a curse on you, the old village men will run over one of your 5 cats’ tail, causing nerve damage and making you express cat urine several times a day for the next month. The good news is you can reuse and recycle those disposable pads that you express Baby Kitty’s urine on to, along with the bag that you put them in!

  3. stephanie says:

    I don’t have any plastic bags to save. My grocery store doesn’t have plastic bags and they will very begrudgingly give you a paper bag if you’ve forgotten your cloth bags or you can buy a new cloth bag for ninety-nine cents. I have over one hundred cloth bags now and am wondering if you have any ideas for storing them – it’s going to be a problem for many people soon as other grocery stores start this practice.

  4. shauna says:

    Wine box – it has a hole like a mouse hole where the wine bag was. Take the bag out after you drink all the wine (could be a fun “craft” in itself)… stuff – don’t fold, don’t roll, don’t worry – just stuff bags into the top of the box and pull them out the hole. Works. You may now cheer.

  5. Camille says:

    LOL – I keep mine shoved into a giant plastic bag that’s hanging from a “Command Hook” on the back of my laundry room door!

  6. Auntiepatch says:

    Like Kathy above, I shove mine in a tissue box. I also use them for trash can liners and put 2-3 in at one time so that I can just tie the handles of the top bag, lift it out, and the bag below is ready to go.

  7. Kathy says:

    When I struggle with something it doesn’t feel like I am one of many, it’s me and whatever the hell is the current problem. You have rung the bell of our common struggle. Ain’t you great. All across the continent we are all stuffing these into tubes, boxes, or a parent bag. I use the tall square tissue box. If I am using a bag at home it is for something messy, so I always hold the handles and lift the bag up towards light looking for the pin hole that fooled me once. And when the light shines through that pin hole it’s aha, score. The others get folded and stuffed in the tissue box. Weeding out the pin holes is pure satisfaction.

  8. Tracie says:

    Well. You bag. (get it?) I couldn’t resist….I have to admit that I did not read any comments this time, nor did I look up anything on Pinterest. Also, I am most recently…single. I thought I might find a unique way to store grocery bags tonight, instead I apparently found a sounding board for my new found freedom….I think I like that. Thanks, Karen.

    • Karen says:

      !!! From the sound of your comment Tracie I’m not sure whether to off you condolences or congratulations, lol. I suspect it’s a bit of both. You’ll be amazed at the things you suddenly have time to do and want to do now. It’s a whole new world. :) ~ karen!

  9. Agnes says:

    Forget the disposable bags, can someone please give a suggestion on how to store my mountain of REUSABLE BAGS?! They are constantly spilling out of the front closet. They don’t mash up as nicely as the plastic ones. I too am not interested in bag origami. First world problems, right Karen?!

    • Karen says:

      I’ve just started refusing the reusable bags when they’re offered to me for free. FORGET IT. God. And most of them are made out of some sort of polyester and therefore aren’t recyclable. I’m kindda thinking we got this wrong. Anyhow, if you don’t have a trunk, just keep the number of bags you think you need. Seriously we only need so many, and take the rest to a local thrift store so they can use them for other people’s purchases. That is my 5 second suggestion. I might come up with something better after a third coffee. ~ karen!

  10. Rachel San Diego says:

    For years, we kept ***some*** plastic bags in a nifty cloth bag that my sister made that was cinched open at each end and could therefore accept bags being shoved into it and pulled back out of it easily. We tied it to the oven door handle and it worked great until I got tired of looking at it. (I say some because inevitably we ended up with too many bags and they just rolled around in my trunk or various closets for awhile until I got fed up and threw them out).

    Then I got smart. I inherited some extra large plastic tubs with lids from my sister– the kind that you get at Costco that contain 5lbs of pretzels. Tall and see-through. I prettied them up by removing the labels and spray painting the kids white (to block the pretzel signage), and divided plastic bags among the three containers by size. One for extra large bags (like the kind you get when you purchase containers at the Container Store), one for medium, one for regular sized bags. The containers are on a shelf in our garage and I’m pleased to say that the system works a year later; my husband even manages to get it right. We use mostly reusable canvas totes, but love having a system for the plastic bags we still receive and reuse.

  11. Laurinda says:

    I do the quick little circles, no knots, like Valerie. Because it makes me think I’m saving room. As for storing them, I have the cloth tube also. Mine matches my kitchen, & it’s handy enough to dig one out of the top when I need one.
    I hope you find the miracle you’re looking for!

  12. Joy says:

    I’ve used a recycle bin (the stackable, lidded bins from Ikea), jammed them between the fridge and the cabinet (big no no, I know, but it’s still my favorite method), and now I think I’ll try the suggestion to stuff them into a pretty vase or some non slip thing I can set on the counter or under the sink. I gave up for a while and shoved them into an empty beer case in my laundry room because I didn’t want to deal with the explosion of bags everywhere (we are always high class around here). ;) And all the “I use reusable bags” saints probably fart rainbows. Good for you. Not very practical for me. Farting rainbows, that is. My husband uses our reusable bags carrying his food between the fire station and home.

  13. Elaine Killingsworth says:

    Karen, the bag dispenser I use works great for me. I have a hand towel folded and sewn the long way with elastic in both ends so the openings are about the size of a large bracelet. I just pack the bags in at the top and pull one out from the bottom. When it is too full for any more stuffing, I put the others in my second bag dispenser in my car. I also have a third and fourth one in the garage and storage shed. I love these bag dispensers.—Elaine

  14. Chris says:

    I find it easy to use a little dollar store gizmo that hangs below a shelf (not sure if you have a shelf under the sink, I don’t so I use a shelf in my laundry room) just shove the bags into it. So far it is the best solution for me, and I use another one to store my lunch bags, which are usually just the cute Pier One plastic coated gift bags. Here is an example of the gizmo I mean…

  15. Barbara H. says:

    I have a lovely ethnic woven bag/basket with long string type handles that I needed to find a use for. Lo and behold – it hangs on a pantry cabinet looking lovely with the plastic bags stuffed inside. Good looking, easy and gives the bag/basket a wonderful purpose.

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

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