We updated this article in March 2022 to add more information about each featured product and add new picks from Hydro Flask and Ekolojee. Our original top picks, selected by the Good Housekeeping Institute Kitchen Appliances and Culinary Innovation Lab and Textiles Lab, remain the same.
Reusable grocery bags are one small way you can reduce your overall plastic usage and contribute to a greener shopping experience. In some cases, you may actually be required to make the swap, as eight states (and even more cities) have already banned single-use plastic bags. There are many options to consider, including machine-washable totes, flexible bags that fold down into a pouch, canvas carry-alls or trendy polypropylene bags. Once you find a reusable grocery bag that best fits your needs, stash it in your purse, glove box or trunk, so you can always have it on hand. And while you're at it, ditch plastic baggies for tried-and-tested reusable snack bags, reusable produce bags and consider making your own beeswax wraps in place of plastic wrap.
In the Good Housekeeping Institute, sustainability is a huge pillar and we test everything from lunch boxes to reusable water bottles and reusable straws to help support sustainable living on a grassroots level. Our editors and experts in the Kitchen Appliances and Culinary Innovation Lab and Textiles Lab weighed in on the best reusable grocery bags, many of which they tested themselves or stand by based on their categorical expertise. Here are the best reusable grocery bags you can buy in 2022:
- Built-in ice packs
- Zippered closure
- Heavy, especially when frozen
Whether you have a long commute with groceries or you're trying to keep frozen groceries cool, the PackIt Freezable Grocery Shopping Bag will help ensure your groceries don’t spoil or melt before arriving home. “I love how it’s functional as a grocery bag, but keeps food frozen for long periods," says Lexie Sachs, Executive Textiles Director. The night before you head to the store, fold up this grocery bag and place it in your freezer. The soft-sided tote is insulated with freezable gel that stays put and a zippered closure to lock in cool air.
- Can carry up to 50 pounds
- Not ideal for delicate groceries
For under $20, this five-pack of reusable grocery bags can be stashed in its matching carrying pouch in your purse, trunk or car door. Small but mighty, our pros love that each bag is waterproof and reinforced, so you don't have to worry about it breaking even when you're carrying a heavy load (up to 50 pounds!). This set of five bags comes in over a dozen different color and pattern combinations, and our pros love that they are all machine washable.
- Sturdy construction
- Folds flat when not in use
- Interior pocket for small storage
This canvas tote can hold up to 30 pounds of groceries when open and folds flat to less than two inches thick when not in use (there is even an elastic to ensure that it stays folded). Our Lab experts like its sturdy wire structure, which not only gives it durability but makes it easier to see everything in your grocery bag. There is also an interior pocket great for keys or your shopping list. Choose between an insulated and non-insulated version to best fit your grocery needs.
- Ten bags fit in one pouch
- Machine washable
- Not suitable for delicate groceries
If you need more than a few reusable grocery bags, BagPodz offers a great option for buying in bulk. Each purchase gets you fits 10 reusable grocery that hold up to 50 pounds each, and the bags fold into the pouch neatly. GH Lab pros love that these are made out of machine washable RipStop nylon and are water repellant, helping to contain a grocery leak. Our pros also suggest keeping the zippered pouch clipped on your purse, so you always have reusable bags on hand.
- Lets you easily sort groceries while shopping
- Smart storage solutions like egg pockets and wine holders
- Does not fit all grocery carts
These bags couldn't make shopping green easier: They fit most standard shopping carts, so you can divide up your groceries while you're shopping to make the loading and unloading process so much easier. “Lotus is great to stay organized while shopping – especially when shopping for the family because we buy so much,” says Sachs. The set even comes with wine and egg pockets, a mesh bottom so that any potential leaks will not pool at the bottom and a separate cooler bag for perishable items. Take note that if you shop at grocery stores with larger grocery carts (like Costco or Sam’s Club), you will have to purchase a different version of these bags.
- Folds into a pouch
- Included carrying case
- Not dryer safe
Even though it's light and compact enough to carry around all day, this machine-washable nylon shoulder bag is surprisingly strong, holding up to 50 pounds without ripping. “The included carrying case makes it so easy to always have a bag with me when I’m out and about," says Emma Seymour, Senior Product Analyst in the Textiles Lab. We love that they come in an assortment of bold patterns and bright colors, so you'll never lose sight of it.
- Waterproof, leak-proof material
- Keeps food cold for up to four hours
Hydro Flask’s Insulated Tote doubles as a cooler: it helps ensure that your temperature-sensitive dairy or proteins stay cold for up to four hours. With its fully lined interior and waterproof zippers, this bag helps contain any leaks. That's why Nicole Papantoniou, Director of the Kitchen Appliances and Culinary Innovation lab loves it for transporting meats from the grocery store or for keeping food cold at the beach. While this bag isn’t cheap, Hydro Flask stands behind it offering a five year warranty.
- Carries up to 40 pounds
- Not suitable for carrying small items that could fall through holes
Pretend you’re Emily in Paris with one of these chic French string bags, perfect for shopping at the farmer’s market or picking up a few groceries after work. These cotton string bags look delicate, but easily stretch to accommodate whatever you put inside and hold up to 40 pounds, according to the manufacturer. If they get dirty, they are machine-washable. Pro tip from our Lab experts: Since this bag has a net design, it’s helpful to carry some reusable produce bags inside so that nothing small falls through.
- Made of recycled material
This machine washable, stylish reusable grocery bag looks like the plastic grocery bag that it is replacing, but reinvented with much more durability. As a response to San Francisco's plastic bag ban in 2017, this designer embroidered bags made out of recycled taffeta with an all-too-familiar message, "thank you" and "have a nice day." According to the manufacturer this bag is machine washable, but make sure to hang dry to ensure that the embroidery remains in good condition.
- Pocket storage inside
- Laminated lining
- Spot clean only
Ideal for heavier loads, this jute bag stands up straight, so you don't have to worry about your eggs or other fragile items toppling over. The best part: There's an easy-to-reach pocket inside, so you can safely stash your keys, phone, wallet and shopping list. We also love that the interior has laminated lining, to resist a leaking grocery mishap. Keep in mind that if you do stain the exterior of the bag, it is spot clean only.
At the Good Housekeeping Institute, sustainability is important: we hosted our 5th Annual Sustainability Summit in 2021, launched our Sustainable Innovation Awards in 2019 and the Green Good Housekeeping Seal in 2009. To find the best reusable grocery bags, our editors and experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute Kitchen Appliances and Culinary Innovation Lab and Textiles Lab road tested bags for factors like material, style, shape, durability and cleanability. We prioritized bags that are lightweight, durable and machine-washable with easy accessibility. Our pros also prefer bags that are easy to shove into another bag for storage and can be comfortably worn over the shoulder. When making our selects, we ensured there was an option to fill most people’s needs based on our pros' categorical expertise, relying on their combined years of testing textile and kitchen products.
✔️ Material: Reusable grocery bags are made up of numerous materials, whether cotton, burlap, polyester or canvas, there are three material characteristics to keep in mind when choosing the bag for you. A lightweight foldable material like nylon is helpful if you need to store your bags in your purse or bicycle, so that you never forget them. Look for a sturdy burlap or canvas bag with durable handles if you need to carry heavier items that may break a flimsy bag. And a bag with insulation or ice packs embedded will keep groceries cold for a few hours before arriving home.
✔️ Capacity: If you need to carry large items, a bag with a little stretch will help or one with expandable sides will also come in handy. Manufacturers will often state their weight capacity, if you tend to have heavy groceries, opt for one that has a weight capacity of at least 40 pounds.
✔️ Washability: Groceries can be messy, whether your pickle jar leaks or your kale is still damp from its daily misting. Reusable grocery bags are sanitary if they are cleaned regularly. You can machine wash most reusable grocery bags (depending on the material or decoration), but some require being hung dry. Look for a machine-washable bag unless you do not mind spot cleaning or hand washing your reusable grocery bag.
In the Good Housekeeping Institute Kitchen Appliances and Culinary Innovation Lab, Eva Bleyer has tested everything from blenders to kitchen scales. She also earned a B.S. in Food Studies, Nutrition and Public Health from New York University, where she studied sustainability practices. Eva always has a folded reusable grocery bag in her backpack or purse because of New York City’s plastic bag ban and her frequent impromptu grocery runs.
As the Director of the Kitchen Appliances and Culinary Innovation Lab and judge for Good Housekeeping’s Sustainability awards, Nicole Papantoniou shops for groceries a lot and tries to do her part for the environment as often as she can by almost exclusively using reusable grocery bags.
Emma Seymour is a senior textiles product analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute. She’s been at Good Housekeeping for more than three years, and with a degree in fiber science and apparel design from Cornell University, has extensive research experience. She's a lifetime sewer with previous product-development experience, giving a strong textiles background with expertise on proper fit and construction. She continues to expand her knowledge with additional coursework on sustainable manufacturing and new textile testing methodologies.
Lexie Sachs is the executive director of the Textiles, Paper & Apparel Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in fiber science from Cornell University and more than 15 years of experience in the textiles industry, including merchandising and product development for home products and fashion. Lexie joined Good Housekeeping in 2013 and has extensively tested all fiber-based products using specialized lab equipment and with hundreds of consumer testers.