Keeping our reusables safe

I’ve been reading an interesting article about the importance of making sure we keep our reusable items clean and safe. Well, in truth, the article was actually a bit of a reusable-bashing session suggesting that consumers (i.e. the public – aka you and me) can’t be trusted to use reusables because they don’t bother or even know that they need to clean them. The author of the paper was talking, I believe, about those same consumers that remember to change their underwear on a regular basis and brush their teeth twice a day and wash their hands after using the toilet, touching food, picking their nose etc.

So, do we wash our stuff often enough? How often is often enough and how do we know that?

As a population, we’ve been using reusable crockery, cutlery, ceramic and glassware for our food and drink for centuries. We know how to do it, though I’m told that a teenage boy’s bedroom is perhaps indicative that some don’t. In fact, if I think back to my own teenage years, I used to notice an occasional lack of cups in the kitchen, and I knew exactly where to look to restock – under my mum’s bed – complete with manky coffee dregs and dunked biscuit crumbs. Eew!

So, do you put your reusable cloth bags in the washing machine?

Do you wash your reusable coffee cup and your on the go lunch container in the dishwasher when you get them home?

Do you clean your reusable water bottle and give it a sterilise with boiling water?

Oh and while we are at it… Do you wash your reusable face masks between uses?

The report suggested that we should be very wary of switching to reusables, but equally the author of the report didn’t always remember to put a full stop between two sentences. Seriously though, you do have to read these reports with an acknowledgement of bias. It is unsurprising, I guess, that a packaging company will publish a report showing us that packaging is necessary. Really, though, the message should be that we remember to wash our on-the-go and shopping reusables just like we wash our plates, cutlery, cups and glasses at home. Oh yes, and we continue to change our underwear on a regular basis and brush our teeth twice a day.

I’m ok with that. Are you?

I have been known to put plastic bags through the washing machine and although they come out very wet and drip everywhere they do seem to wash fine. I frequently hand wash plastic bags and use vinegar spray and then rinse when it is the woven plastic bags, but I’ve put these through the wash too every now and then and they’ve all survived. My favourite bags are cloth bags, because they just machine wash really easily.

Along with tea towels and sheets, this wash contained the two pairs of gardening gloves I use for when I’m working at the vegetable rescue place I volunteer at every Friday. Pretty much every wash will have at least one of our face masks. I have four and my husband has probably more than that as he was given them from work.  Oh, and I can spot one of my reusable veg bags which I’ve been using for longer than I can remember and they are still going strong.

I’ve just given my water bottle the sterilisation treatment of boiling water.

Long-live reusables!


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Anna Pitt

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