Sometimes brainstorms turn out to be… well, something else.

COVID19 has reawakened my reduce/reuse/recycle cognitive file.



Realizing kitchen trash bags are a rare commodity, I decided to sanitize all those used grocery bags we save to use as trash liners.



One of the many websites suggestions was to wash the bags in hot soapy water. Rinse well and they could be used again. I got as far as “used again” and Eureka! I could see my mother nodding approvingly from that great COVID-free space in the sky.

“Why not just throw them out if you think they have germs?” This from my true North, aka my husband, who is usually my #1 supporter. But, as we all know, these are not usual times.

“No way.” I was determined, but also in denial about the simplicity and ease of this task.

Day 1

I gathered all the used plastic bags from their hidey-holes around the house- kitchen bin under the sink, laundry room wall bin, two bathroom containers, garage over-stock (now there’s a trigger word). Steam from hot soapy water rose from the kitchen sinks. Wash in one, transfer, and rinse in the other. Hmm, there seem to be quite a few bags here. Okay, rinse in both sinks. Squeeze out water. Now to dry them.

Dry them?

Attempt #1:  Squeeze bunches of bags. Better yet, wring each bag and lay out on the rack. This works for a few but I’m sure I have more than 100 bags.

Attempt #2:  Take them outside, shake and hang them… somewhere. Hook five bags on a hanger and hook on the backs of the patio chairs. A flawed solution. Most of the bags have puddles of water in them. Shake them again, vigorously.

Attempt #3: Take out the hair dryer and blow-dry them. Do you know how persistent little drops of water are in plastic bags? They scoot along the wind tunnel like tiny transparent bugs.

Flight of Fancy:  “Hey Hank, think I can put the bags in our clothes dryer?” He barely gave me a glance. A quick flick of the eyes in my direction, slight but definite shake of the head, and back to his reading. There was no offer of help from my sweetheart. I was now out of denial and into acceptance of a poor execution of an idealistic idea. A resolve sometimes known as obstinacy sets in. The sun is also setting. Hank deigns to help me take the hangers to the garage.

Day 2. 7:00 AM

There are small puddles in some of the bags. Out they all go to the patio. I extend a travel clothesline (which will not see cruise or travel use for quite a while) from one patio chair to another. Wetter bags get hooked individually on the clothesline. Remaining hangers are hooked on the line intact. The burning sun of today’s 90° weather will dry them. The somewhat erratic hum of the overhead patio fan creates a vigorous breeze that attests to my continuing zeal.

Day 2. 2:30 PM

The bags are dry! I remove each of the more than 200 bags, roll them, and squish them into the containers to be placed back in their hidey-holes. Never have our trash liners been so clean.

Not a great science success, very poor time management, but a pretty neat patio art installation.




Washing the bags immediately after one grocery outing is easy, effective, and useful.

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she’s writing to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it.