Stand out from the pack for being made of silicone, which is BPA-free, reasonably durable in most conditions, and practical to use in many ways – in the microwave, freezer, and dishwasher. Can withstand temperatures of 100°F. Available in numerous styles, sizes, colors, and graphic.
Holes and torn seams may occur with repeated use. Press-lock seals take a bit of effort to close completely. Reports of mold forming when seams/corners didn't dry thoroughly.
A good deal, as you get a pack of 6 that includes 4 sandwich and 2 snack bags. Tough PEVA material is BPA-free. Can be used in the freezer. Zip-seal closures are secure.
Bags have a plastic smell that goes away after washed several times. Washing them by hand is advised.
Lay-flat design is very similar to traditional disposable sandwich bags. Easy to stash in lunch bags. You get 5 bags in different colors. Company offers a variety of styles and sizes for different storage needs. Made of BPA-free PEVA material.
Zip-seals become difficult to maneuver with repeated use, and often won't seal completely. Hand-washing is recommend. Hard to get the corners dry, which could cause mold to form.
Made of strong polyurethane laminate fabric that can be wiped clean or placed on the top rack of the dishwasher. Have built-in liners for added durability. Set of 3 includes 3 different sizes. Choice of several cute graphics that are appealing to kids.
Have a strange odor that tends to fade with use. Zippers are prone to jamming and breaking. The downside of the fabric material is that it has the tendency do retain moisture.
These bags offer an expandable stand-up design that holds an ample amount of food. Made of durable PEVA material that holds up well to repeated use. Have secure zip-sealing closures. Pack of 5 contains 3 versatile sizes. Freezer-safe and BPA-free.
Water tends to get trapped in the crevices, which makes these bags a bit challenging to dry. Hand-washing is recommended.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
If you’re looking for a way to avoid single-use plastic — and perhaps even save some money in the process — consider investing in reusable sandwich bags. The best reusable sandwich bags are sturdy, easy to clean, and affordable, not to mention free of BPA and other hazardous materials.
Quality is key when selecting reusable sandwich bags. If the bag breaks down after ten or even dozens of uses, you likely won’t save any money over the purchase of a box of single-use plastic bags. The goal is to find reusable bags that you’ll use again and again, sparing both your pocketbook and the landfill of unnecessary waste.
We think you’ll be delighted by the range of reusable sandwich bags available on the market right now. There is something for every taste, whether you’re charmed by rustic-looking burlap or partial to sleek, utilitarian silicone. Read this buying guide to learn about the wealth of options and to discover our favorite products.
Reusable sandwich bags can be made of a surprising number of materials. Let’s take a look at the details of some of the most popular ones.
Burlap: Burlap is an organic, eco-friendly material that grows easily and degrades naturally in a landfill. Although the exterior of these bags is burlap, the interior is made of a food-safe, leakproof material like nylon or silicone. In addition to their great look, burlap sandwich bags may help prevent your sandwich from becoming smashed, as the outer material is stiffer and more protective than thin plastic.
Silicone: Bags made of food-grade silicone are expensive to manufacture because the substance (a polymer made mostly of silica, or sand) costs approximately $20 per pound. Therefore, you can expect to pay a fairly high price for reusable sandwich bags made of silicone. On the plus side, the bags are soft yet durable, easy to clean, resistant to stains, and able to withstand hot and cold temperatures.
PEVA: Some reusable sandwich bags are made of a type of vinyl called polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA). PEVA is a popular substitute for polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which can be carcinogenic, in items like tablecloths and shower curtains. Although PEVA contains no harmful phthalates, researchers agree there is more to be learned about the substance and its effect on health. So, while we know that the FDA has approved the use of PEVA in sandwich bags and it’s less harmful than PVC, we expect to see more research on PEVA’s impact on health in the future.
PUL: Due to its waterproof nature, polyurethane laminate (PUL) is used in some reusable bags, as well as some baby products like bibs and disposable diapers. In reusable sandwich bags, it is often referred to as fabric PUL. This material is very easy to clean and breaks down in a landfill more quickly than plastic.
Reusable sandwich bags are designed to be durable, but exactly how long do they last? Two weeks? Two years? Some companies specify how many uses you can expect to get from a reusable bag. For example, one manufacturer states that “one bag replaces 300 disposable bags,” implying that you should expect to use the bag for nearly a year’s worth of lunches. Another manufacturer states that one of its bags replaces 500 disposable bags.
These figures are magnificent, but a finite number like 300 or 500 still suggests that the bag will eventually break down. The quality of the bag material is only part of the durability equation; the quality of the bag’s hardware matters, too. For example, a bag made of hardy silicone means zilch if the zipper breaks after one week. Pay attention to the type of closure a bag has. Many have zippers, and some zippers are more reliable than others. We take a detailed look at bag closures elsewhere in this article.
All reusable bags are washable. Two key pieces of information to learn are how a reusable bag is washed and how easy it is to wash.
Dishwasher: The majority of reusable bags can be placed in the dishwasher. This even applies to bags with a burlap or cloth outer material. Bear in mind that the bags will need to be air-dried, which could take several hours. As such, if you invest in cloth or burlap bags, it may be helpful to buy a second set so you always have something clean and dry on hand.
Washing machine: Some fabric bags can be laundered in the washing machine. This does not apply to all fabric bags, however, so be sure to read the packaging before throwing them into your hamper.
By hand: There are certain kitchen items that some people just prefer to wash by hand: fine silver, nonstick pans, and maybe even reusable bags. Manufacturers create these bags with user-friendliness in mind, but if you prefer, feel free to turn your reusable bags inside out and gently scrub them with a dishcloth and soap. Air-dry them on your drying rack with the other dishes.
If you’re not sure which bag size you’d use the most (sandwich bags, snack bags, lunch bags), consider a multipack containing bags of different sizes.
Reusable sandwich bags vary in size. You might prefer a small bag of 6.5 x 6 inches or a quart-size bag of 7 x 8 inches. In the realm of reusable bags, you’ll find more than just sandwich sizes for sale. Snack bags are typically smaller, with dimensions of around 4 x 7 inches. Half-gallon bags are obviously larger, so if you’re in the market for something to house your PB and J, you may not be interested in a bag this big. But if you’re thinking of making a complete transition from plastic to reusable materials, it’s good to know you have options.
Notably, some reusable sandwich bags are sold in multipacks that include snack-size baggies and half-gallon bags. If you’re looking to experiment with more than just lunch, we suggest you check out a multipack.
A discussion about bag size wouldn’t be complete without mention of TSA guidelines.
Carry-on: The TSA rule for carry-ons is “3-1-1.” Each passenger may bring a 3.5-ounce bottle of liquid (or less) in a transparent 1-quart bag. Only one bag is allowed per person. However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) states on its website that flyers with carry-ons must transport liquids in a “clear, plastic, zip-top bag.” Therefore, we don’t advise anyone to use a reusable sandwich bag made of a nonplastic material in a carry-on.
Checked bag: Checked baggage is a different story. By packing small items in see-through containers, you make the job of a TSA worker easier and more efficient. In addition, the organization of your bag is less likely to be disrupted, making life easier for you when you land. If you’re about to take a vacation, why not put your reusable sandwich bags to work? Stow small suitcase items like makeup and pills in reusable sandwich bags for quick and easy access during your travels.
Self-adhesive: A lot of reusable sandwich bags have Velcro-like hook-and-loop closures that self-adhere. Younger children may find this type of seal easier to deal with than a zipper or drawstring. Bear in mind that a hook-and-loop bag may be bulkier and take up more room in a lunch box than a zippered bag.
Drawstring: Some reusable sandwich bags have drawstring closures. This type of bag won’t create an airtight or waterproof seal. There may be some foods you prefer not to store in drawstring bags, like juicy orange sections that drip.
Zipper: Although a zipper arguably forms a tighter seal than a drawstring or hook-and-loop closure, the mechanism can fail. In fact, zipper failure is one of the most common complaints logged by owners of reusable bags. If you invest in zippered reusable bags, we suggest you opt for a product with a money-back guarantee.
The traditional lunch baggie, as many of us recall, was a square or rectangular sack with a zippered or folded closure. You can buy reusable bags in this style today, but there are also reusable sandwich pouches and reusable sandwich wraps.
Pouch: A pouch-style reusable sandwich bag closes in a similar manner to a manila envelope. Simply place the food inside the compartment and fold over the top. Most food pouches seal via a hook-and-loop closure.
Wrap: Imagine a rectangular placemat that folds up, courtesy of hook-and-loop tabs, to hold a sandwich. That’s the concept behind wrap-style reusable sandwich bags. During our research, we found several reusable sandwich wraps that customers have enthusiastically used as fold-out placements in the school cafeteria or break room.
Most reusable sandwich bags lie flat, but some are designed to stand upright.
Inexpensive: Whereas plastic lunch bags cost just pennies apiece, reusable bags — even the cheaper ones — cost significantly more. If you shop around, you can find products that cost under $1 per bag. However, your chance of encountering a bag tear or zipper failure may be greater in this price range.
Mid-range: A package of 12 reusable bags of different sizes may cost as little as $16, which amounts to slightly more than $1 per bag, or as much as $24. If you go this route, opt for a product from a reputable maker with satisfied customers.
Expensive: You can get a set of highly acclaimed reusable bags for as little as $4 per bag. This usually amounts to a set price between $16 and $32. However, there are reusables that exceed that price, with some singletons selling for as much as $12 per bag.
A metal zipper is usually more durable than a plastic one. That said, a reusable sandwich bag with a metal zipper is not microwavable, which you may find to be a drawback.
The seven-pack of Home Hero Reusable Silicone Food Storage Bags deserves a mention because, even though they’re larger than the typical sandwich, you might find them perfect for storing that leftover piece of lasagna or serving of soup for lunch the next day. The bags come with colored sealing rods which you can insert to prevent leaks; just don’t put the rods in the microwave when you heat up your food.
The Ecowaare Reusable Produce Bags aren’t actually designed for sandwiches or other lunch fare, but we wanted to mention them here because they’re a great companion product to the reusable sandwich bag. Made of polyester, these fine-mesh bags are designed to hold produce. You can take them to the grocery store and scan barcodes directly through the mesh. In your refrigerator, you’re able to see exactly what’s inside these transparent bags. When it’s time to clean them, a hand-washing in the sink or cycle in your washing machine is all that’s needed.
Q. Can I store snacks in these bags indefinitely?
A. We don’t recommend it because many reusable bags are not airtight. Over time, any bag with a zipper, hook-and-loop closure, or drawstring will let in small amounts of air, eventually spoiling the food. Keep your snacks permanently stored in a separate airtight container.
Q. Why can’t I just wash and reuse the plastic sandwich bags I already have?
A. In some cases, you might be able to do just that. However, it’s not always recommended. For example, if you use a plastic bag to store or marinade raw meat, fish, or eggs, it’s safer not to reuse it.
Q. My friend makes her own reusable food wrap, called beeswax wrap. Is this the same thing as a reusable sandwich bag?
A. Not exactly. Beeswax food wrap is essentially parchment paper or fabric that has been coated with a mix of beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. You can make your own (just check the internet) or purchase sheets of it. It’s a wonderful organic product that molds around food and seals it in naturally. There may be a handful of reusable food bags for sale that are coated with the same mixture, but it’s certainly not true of all of them. If you’re ambitious, you could take some beeswax food wrap and sew it into bag form.
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