Frugal housewives know that washing and reusing plastic zip-locking bags is a great way to save money, thanks to that tough, durable plastic that makes them so great for food storage, and so very awful for landfills. But after repeated washing, the plastic starts to look cloudy and grow thin in places, making them no longer safe for stashing food. Even then, there are still plenty of ways to use those bags! Here are ten:
1. Store small objects. Coupons, batteries, spare bread bag ties, those sweetener packets you keep stealing borrowing from your favorite coffee shop: used baggies are still great for corralling small things in drawers, on shelves and in purses.
2. Travel wipes. Whether you’re taking a long road trip, or just like to stay fresh throughout the day, a used plastic bag makes a great way to store homemade body, baby and makeup-remover wipes.
3. Ice packs for injuries. Fill a used zipper bag with half water (which freezes) and half vodka (which doesn’t freeze) and stash it in the freezer to have a nice, slushy ice pack ready the next time you need one.
4. Travel-sized toiletries Who really takes full-sized shampoos, body washes or conditioners when they travel, even now that the TSA allows it again? Stash your stuff in a zip-seal baggie to prevent them from leaking all over your suitcase or carry on.
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5. Dog duty. If you’ve got a pooch, you know you’ve got to scoop poop.
6. Keep clean hands while cooking. Need to knead dough? Making meatloaf? Cooking chicken? Slip on a pair of old plastic bags to keep your hands — and food! — clean.
7. Read and relax. There are few things I enjoy more than soaking in a nice, hot bath and reading by candlelight. When I first got my Kindle, I thought I’d have to give that up… until I realized that putting it in a plastic ziplock bag is the perfect way to enjoy my eBook without worrying about water damage.
8. Crush crumbs. Need to make a graham crust or crush some crackers for a topping? Pop them in an old zip bag, seal and run your rolling pin over it.
9. Use as a funnel. Fill an old bag with dried beans, rice, flour or whatever you want to pour into a small-mouthed container. Then simply snip off one corner and squeeze the contents out.
10. Keep your knees clean and dry. Whether you’re scrubbing floors or pulling weeds, old plastic bags make great knee protectors. Just cut the bottom of the bag off, and slide it up your legs. Use the zipper to adjust tightness as needed and, boom, your knees stay dry!
The great thing about reusing plastic bags that are past their prime is that you’re not only saving money, you’re saving landfill space. What other clever uses to you have for old plastic bags that aren’t ready to be tossed yet?