Preparedness blog

Helpful Uses for Plastic Bags

By Jeff and Amy Davis
More from this author

Plastic bags can become a great multi-use item because they are so cheap and plentiful! Instead of just throwing them away, use them again and again for gardening, to make rope, make clothing and more!

Check out these ideas on how you can use plastic bags to help you in any situation that might be foolish enough to challenge you!

Line Cracked Vases
Thinking of throwing out that prized vase because it has a crack from top to bottom? Don’t do it! Simply line the vase with the plastic bag before you fill it with water. Then you’re free to add flowers in the top and not worry about cleaning up a mess.

Treat Chapped Hands
Rub a thick layer of petroleum jelly on your hands and wrap them in a plastic bag. Your body will heat up the petroleum jelly just enough to soak in and relieve any cracks and dry spots. You’ll have supple hands in about 15 minutes.

Crochet

Keep Steel Wool from Rusting
Next time you have to use steel wool in water, throw it in a plastic bag after you’re done. This should keep it from rusting too much.

Catch Fruits from a Tree
Have a fruit tree in your yard but don’t want the fruit landing everywhere on your lawn? If you can tell that a fruit is getting ripe, tie a bag around the branch that will catch the fruit so it doesn’t fall on the ground. This will also protect fruit from bugs and frost.

Make Rope

Clean off Car Mirrors
If it snows, you’re going to have to clean off your windows. However, sometimes it’s hard to get your scraper on the small mirrors of your car. If you know it’s going to snow, tie a bag around the mirror and remove them in the morning. No ice to scrape off!

Pack your Sandy Sandals
A day at the beach can be tainted when you have to clean out all the sand you tracked into your car. Instead, place the sandals or shoes inside of a plastic bag and tie them up. Plan for an extra pair of

Fuse Plastic Together
If you fuse plastic bags together they become more sturdy and durable. You can then use the plastic sheets as you would a cloth and make bags, clothes, etc.

What have you done?
Comment below to tell us what you’ve used plastic bags for. We’d love to hear what you’ve done!

You might also be interested in reading:
- Make Your Own Natural Deodorant - 
- How to Make Your Own Vinegar - 

9 years ago
Comments
Jan Smith
9 years ago at 3:14 AM
Important facts to live by.
Mary Shew
9 years ago at 5:30 AM
I use the plastic bags to line my small bathroom trash containers; also use them for disposal when I clean the kitty litter box. We also use them by hanging a few on a belt when we harvest our garden produce. One is filled with tomatoes, one with cucumbers, one with peppers, one for squash, etc. They are very handy. We also use them when we are peeling veggies to take the peelings back to the garden to "recycle" them. I keep one in my car and purse to use as a "headscarf" if I get caught without an umbrella.
Dave W
9 years ago at 5:38 AM
I keep some in my get home bag along with some elastic hair bands so I can waterproof my shoes if I'm caught out with the wrong shoes for the weather.
Jeff
9 years ago at 5:52 AM
I tried the TREAT CHAPPED HANDS trick. While using the plastic bags to cover my hands may help the petroleum jelly soak in and make my hands supple, the plastic bags on my hands certainly make it more difficult to type this RESPONSE.
Rebecca
9 years ago at 6:50 AM
I have a comment about lining vases... first of all, I am guessing you are talking about bags from the grocery store or Target or WalMart... they always have holes in the bottom!!! that wouldn't help with preventing water leakage, and maybe the crack would leak less water, haha!! I use them to line my trashcans and send my parents home with leftovers in re-usable containers, but to have them carry them home in these plastic bags. Also, I wouldn't recommend the use of petroleum jelly -- very bad for you toxic wise!! This is a by-product of oil production. It may make your skin feel better after awhile but at the risk of toxins leaking into your body (you absorb what goes on your skin). My recommendation would be to use olive oil, coconut oil, or palm oil, much healthier oils, and then wrap the bag around them. :) I am thinking about trying the crocheting out!! :)
Dan
9 years ago at 7:04 AM
I realize the topic is mostly about grocery bags but there are uses for other plastic bags most everyone comes across. There are the bags your bread, bagels and veggies come in. All of these can be reused much the same way but they are usually a little big thicker and stronger. If you make your own bread/biscuits of course they can be used to store your creations. (Save the twist ties and such also) If we need to thaw meat out in cold water we use these bags instead of ziplock bags to do so.
Laurie
9 years ago at 8:25 AM
I agree with Rebecca about using petroleum jelly on your skin, it's not the best idea. Actually the best is jojoba oil because it has such tiny molecules that they can get into the skin more effectively. If you add some vitamin E oil to the jojoba, it will add healing properties. It's good for hydrating the fingernails too.
GreatDepression
9 years ago at 8:30 AM
I save my bags and when I have enough of them I make throw rugs with them. They are great for muddy shoes. Just google search plastic bag rugs to find out how to make them. And when they get to worn down I put them outside under my flower pots. Helps with the drainage.
Bill
9 years ago at 8:43 AM
I'll double two plastic bags and drop an old speaker magnet down in them. Holding the bags by their loop handles, I drag it across the area where I've been welding to pick up the cold slag and welding rod stubs. It works just as well if you dropped a container of screws or magnetic junk. The longer/larger the bags, the less you have to stoop while pulling. It's fast and easy! After the magnet has loaded all it can hold, I have two options: 1. Gently pull away the junk from the outside of the bags and put them, and other loads you keep gathering, into another plastic bag for the trash. 2. If you are finished dragging the bags and the area is picked clean of all the floor items, reach down into the bag and grab the magnet. Then, fold the plastic bags down and inside out. As the junk is now inside, hold by the bags' handles and gently pull away the magnet. The magnetic junk is now contained in the plastic bags to be tied in a knot and toss in the trash... Sure beats crawling around on the floor...
Sherri
9 years ago at 9:13 AM
My grandmother used bread wrappers to crochet jar covers, toilet tissue covers and purses or beach bags. They were colorful and worked great! I still have a few. Great memories!
John Z
9 years ago at 10:06 AM
Pickup the back yard after the dogs.
Robin
9 years ago at 10:17 AM
I throw one in my gym bag and place my wet bathing suit into it. This keeps everything else in the gym bag dry.
jen
9 years ago at 2:20 PM
keep in diaper bag to put smelly diapers in cheaper than buying those smaller powder bags
Lauralee Hensley
9 years ago at 9:37 PM
Like all the ideas. Thank you.
KBral
9 years ago at 11:47 PM
I really liked that you included some of the videos so I didn't have to hunt them down, thanks. Lots of great ideas in the responses!
Dawn
9 years ago at 2:44 AM
Or there is the classic putting them over your socks before you put on your winter boots to keep any moisture off your feet.
mary
9 years ago at 6:02 PM
If the kids leave toys all over the house, have them play toy store. They will have fun filling up their bags and the house will get cleaner. Then bring the bags to your play room and put the stuff away.
Vicci T.
9 years ago at 11:19 AM
Looks like all my ideas have been covered on plastic bags. They can be used for so many things and so are included in our Bug Out Bags. I take for recycle all unusable bags. As for Vaseline, I've used it all my life on the body, doctor recommended. It is often the base for many topical medications. There could be a column on Vaseline and its many uses. It's significant in my prep.
KT
8 years ago at 1:13 PM
We use the bags for throw up bags in the car.
Alee
8 years ago at 12:00 PM
To re-use bread bags: Add flour and toss in chicken, fish, etc. before frying. Makes for a quick clean-up.
Pete Bensen
7 years ago at 6:07 AM
Plastic bags are GREAT to line hiking boots to keep your feet dry. Just put them on over your socks to keep feet dryer and warmer. Large garbage pail liners make great impromptu rain ponchos, and keep the warmth in too. I NEVER go out in the woods without plastic bags.
PK
7 years ago at 6:58 AM
FOR CRISIS SANITATION: Keep a large supply in your crisis storage. They will be good to double or triple them in your 5 gallon toilet bucket. After use, bury them.
Michelle
7 years ago at 6:59 AM
Try non petroleum vaseline, just as thick , smells better. Pick up at your local health food store or online.
Name Pinky
7 years ago at 8:55 AM
Morning from L.A. we can no longerget plastic bags here unless we buy them. We now have to bring our own tote bags as will the rest of the state starting very soon. Miss those bags!!!
CTY
7 years ago at 10:40 PM
I use a few for lining a paint roller tray--to help with cleanup. I place a seat cushion inside a bag for times when the bleachers are wet from rain. A DIY cloche for the garden by pulling down over top a tomato cage--doesn't allow much sun in, but protects from frost at night. I also do much of the stuff mentioned above.
judy
7 years ago at 7:42 PM
I have recycled plastic bags for years. Use plastic bags over the kids shoes in the winter time so the boots that were getting a little small would accept the bigger shoe! Use zip bags for sending home leftovers with the kids at holiday time and also for storing left over food, in the fridg. I use empty bread wrappers for holding garbage in the garbage pail so it doesn't get all over the place. Use in place of rubber gloves when necessary.
Rusty
6 years ago at 10:15 AM
Let's not tell the people who think Vaseline is bad for them because it is made from oil that the plastic keys on their key board, the spandex shorts they were to the gym, and the feminin products they used every month are all made from that evil oil.
Terry
5 years ago at 11:06 AM
When painting wrap paint brush and or roller for overnight/ short term storage without cleaning brush or roller.
Kim
5 months ago at 10:55 AM
Plastic bag 'plarn' is wonderful for making sleeping mats for missionaries to distribute among the poor they work with - bugs won't infest the plastic yarn. Our own homeless population really like the sleeping mats given along with a small bag of hotel sized toiletries with a pair or two of new socks. These uses make great community group projects!