All the Ways You Can Reuse Plastic Bags, But Aren’t

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Black Friday is coming and with it, you may end up with more shopping bags than usual. And depending on where you live, where you shop, and how prepared you are in advance, there’s possibly to be some plastic among them. If you find yourself with an abundant supply, here are some easy ways to reuse them—besides just lining your small trash cans or picking up the dog’s poop (although those are fine, too).

Put some in your suitcase for traveling

Plastic bags come in handy on trips. In a pinch, you can use them instead of cling wrap to seal your bottles before a flight, for instance. You should also always have a few in your suitcase to help you separate shoes from your clothes and dirty clothes from clean ones throughout your trip and especially to keep wet stuff, like swimsuits, away from your other goods. To that end, toss a few in the beach bag you use for quick summer outings, too.

Put some in your car for road emergencies

If a kid has an accident or you spill your lunchtime soda, your car can go from pristine to not-so-pristine very quickly and you’ll wish you had some bags on hand to help collect the mess. Stuff a few in the glove box in case of emergencies, and if you have a car emergency kit (and you should) put it all in a plastic bag and tie the handles to keep it easy to access and safe from harm while it’s bumping around in your trunk until needed.

Keep your boots shapely

Wad up some of your plastic bags into little balls, then stuff those balls into another bag and tie it down until it’s a little bigger than your foot. Then, stick your new, firm hunk of plastic into your boots, booties, and nicest shoes to help them retain their shape while they’re languishing in your closet.

Protect your tech on the go

Years ago, we advocated for using a plastic bag to create a DIY laptop sleeve, but this doesn’t even have to be that complicated of a project: Keep a plastic bag in your backpack to slide in your laptop, calculator, or other tech in if you’re worried about liquid spills. I keep a water bottle next to my computer in my tote bag at all times, which I understand is a risky and dangerous game, and am about to stick a plastic bag in there right now.

Use them for packing

The holidays are approaching and you’re likely about to mail out some gifts. Maybe you’re going on a big trip or planning a move. You never realize how much packing material you’ll need until you actually need it, so keep some plastic bags with your other supplies, like your boxes and tape. Lay plastic bags flat and fold them over the edges of your fragile items or roll them into balls to fill empty space in boxes to keep items extra protected while traveling or shipping.

Stash some with your painting tools

You should use a plastic bag to wrap up your paint brushes when you take a break from projects, according to The Kitchn, and also to line your painting tray when you’re in the middle of a renovation that will require multiple paint colors. Store a few with your painting supplies now so you’ll be more prepared for your next project.

Add a few to your front closet

The Kitchn also recommends using plastic bags as shoe coverings when maintenance workers or other dirty-shoed people need access to your home. Having some by your front door will make it easier for you to gently ask them to cover their feet before they have a chance to ick up your carpet; plus, you can always use to prop up your wet umbrella the next time you’re out in the rain.

Clean your showerhead

Another tip from The Kitchn is this: Remove hard-water buildup from your showerhead by filling a plastic bag with vinegar and tying it over the device. Leave it on while you clean (or relax elsewhere), and the vinegar will do all the hard work for you.

Mask up your hair

I always keep a fresh plastic bag in my bathroom so when I do a hair mask, I can tie it tightly over my head to keep the product on my hair while I do other things. A towel will just absorb the mask and also make a slippery mess, but a plastic bag holds it all in place securely so you can continue with your other self-care pursuits, whatever they may be.

Wrap hangers to increase grip

You should try cutting plastic bags into strips and wrapping them tightly around your metal hangers to increase their grippiness, according to My Recycled Bags. It’s not pretty, but it’s efficient in a pinch, especially as you break out the heavy coats for winter.


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