Switching to silicone food storage bags gives you access to endless reusability while making an eco-friendly impact. But cleaning them, that’s the tricky part.
There are a few methods to consider when cleaning your silicone food storage bags. The appeal is that they are dishwasher friendly, but for more in-depth cleaning, we need to use some elbow grease. The deep handwash method requires a homemade cleaning solution that will eliminate the problematic stains.
Making the jump into silicone food bags is a pricey investment but pays off in the long term if you treat them the right way. The easy solution is to simply throw the bags into the dishwasher quickly and call it a day. However, this could lead to the development of odors and stains. Taking a little extra time to handwash will result in a longer-lasting product.
We use these bags all the time, but we also have some crucial tips to help you with more challenging foods. Other problems like mold, mildew and water spots can ruin the bags too. Don’t worry. We have expert tips to fend off these concerns too.
What You Need to Get Started
Lucky for you, everything you need here is a handy household product. No extensive materials are required.
- A bowl
- Scrub brush
- Distilled white vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Baking soda
- Clean towel
- A non-abrasive sponge
Trust us. There is a reliable cleaning method behind this list.
What Cleaning Options Are There?
If you are using your bags daily, a thorough wash is not required every day unless exposed to oils or sauces resulting in stains.
One of the day-to-day options is a dishwasher cleaning to keep your bags fresh and ready to use again tomorrow.
This process is pretty straightforward.
- Do not turn the bags inside out. It will damage the corners and potentially break the seal.
- Put the bags on the top shelf of the dishwasher.
- Place the bags upside-down with the bottom open.
Be sure to confirm that your branded silicone food bags are dishwasher safe. All of the major brands we use and recommend to readers typically are.
Handwash and Soak
The handwash and soak method requires a little more work. Grab your sponge and get to work.
- Wash lightly beforehand with a non-abrasive sponge and soap.
- Fill up the sink or a bucket with hot water and soap.
- Submerge the bags into the hot water.
- Let the bags soak in the water for 1-2 minutes.
- Wipe down and rinse the bags with hot water one last time.
- Allow bags to dry. Do not turn them inside out.
It is best to have a designated area for the bags to air dry with a sturdy drying rack.
But you might be wondering what the best method is for a more profound, more intensive cleaning process. We have a solution for that too.
How to Deep Clean Reusable Silicone Bags
For a more powerful cleaning, we will be applying a homemade soap solution with deep hand-washing. It is the best way to eliminate stains, odors, and other silicone bag threats.
If you are using the bags often or put tough to handle foods inside, a deep cleaning is exactly what they need to feel good as new again.
Step 1: Clean Out the Inside of the Bag
Remove any food from the inside. Make sure the bag is as empty as possible before starting. If there is food that is stuck in the corners, that’s fine. We have a method to clean those hard-to-reach areas.
Step 2: Rinse the Interior of the Bag with Hot Water
Now we can hit those hard-to-reach corners. Fill the bag roughly halfway with hot water. You can slightly seal the top and shake the water around inside the bag too. This will help rinse the bag more thoroughly.
You can also use the scrub brush here to clean the interior if this doesn’t work. Focus on any food stuck on the interior of the bag. The next step relies on no crumbs being in the way.
Step 3: Create the Homemade Cleaning Solution
Now we can get our mad scientist on a little bit. Start by taking your empty bowl and pouring in equal amounts of distilled white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice. Use a spoon as your even measuring metric.
Leave extra room in the bowl. This concoction will foam up when the ingredients are mixed together.
Step 4: Apply the Mixture Inside the Bag
Applying the mixture can be done with your fingers, a sponge, or your scrub brush. Do not use your fingers unless you are equipped with rubber dishwashing gloves.
Rub the solution along the interior sides of the bag. Be sure to cover both sides thoroughly.
After you are finished, each side needs 15 minutes to absorb the solution. Leave the bag on its side and after 15 minutes, flip the bag to the other side. The total wait time will be approximately 30 minutes.
The baking soda helps fight off stains and smells. Vinegar will kill any bacteria inside the bag for a more rigorous clean. Lemon juice is an added touch to bring it all together and target grease while leaving an attractive scent.
Step 5: Rinse the Bag
Back to step two again. Rinse the interior of the bag with hot water. If done correctly, the only thing you should see inside the bag is water droplets now. But don’t worry, we are getting rid of those next.
Step 6: Dry the Bag
An underrated but arguably, most crucial step is drying the bag. Wipe down both the inside and outside of the bag with a dry cloth first. Try to remove all water drops to minimize the risk of water stains.
How Do You Dry Silicone Food Storage Bags?
There are serious risks involved with storing silicone bags before they have completely dried. Mold and mildew can grow inside the bag and potentially ruin it for any future use. Taking the extra steps necessary to dry out each bag properly will save you time and money in the long term.
To avoid the bags closing while drying, try to set them over a tall object such as an upside-down glass to keep the bag open. It can be a hassle, but turning the bags inside out is not recommended.
While water spots are harmless, giving the bags a quick wipe down after washing is recommended to eliminate the risk and keep them looking clear and clean.
How to Make the Silicone Bags Last Longer
The purpose of the upfront cost for silicone food storage bags is to buy a lasting product that is environmentally friendly while saving money long-term because of the reusability. Unfortunately, the bags will wear down quickly if they are not used and cared for correctly.
Here are some essential tips to get the most usage out of your silicone bags.
- Do not seal an empty bag when storing them after a wash, or they could seal moisture. This can cause a build-up of mold or mildew.
- If there is mold, you can use boiling water, liquid chlorine bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or distilled white vinegar to soak it away.
- Pair colored bags with similar foods. For example, put strawberries in a similarly colored bag to lessen the damage of potential food stains.
- Removing water spots is easy too. A drop of vegetable oil on a small rag will wash them away.
- Baking soda is the best solution to remove odors and stains.
- Exposure to sunlight can help remove stains too.
Final Verdict: What’s the Best Cleaning Method?
While each person’s needs might be different, we should set the record straight about the truly best method for you.
The quick, easy option is the dishwasher. Long-term, the bags’ durability will suffer, and the cleaning process as a whole is not as thorough.
The best day-to-day option is the handwash and soaking method. It is a relatively quick process while still providing a solid wash to keep the silicone bags fresh and clean.
The best overall cleaning process is the deep cleaning, homemade solution method. It targets all aspects of the cleaning process by targeting strains, odors, and bacteria.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker