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Storing Plastic Bags & Ironing Underwear

Anyone who folds plastic bags MUST be crazy right? Right. Yes, I do think it’s akin to ironing underwear (which truly is peculiar), but hear me out. My sister-in-law first introduced me to the virtues of plastic bag folding, and trust me, I was dubious at first. I used to store my bags in a plastic bag holder.  And they are really great — but I did find, when anyone wanted a bag, 10 would come out and end up on the floor or 1000 would be stuffed in, so full, it was just impossible.

I’ve also tried storing plastic bags inside one bag in the bottom of the pantry and, while  it is easier to pull bags out, it takes up space and looks terrible. Because I’m trying to create a more sustainable way of living, I do try (try being the operative word here) and remember to use my reusable bags.  However, I still like to keep some plastic bags because they do come in handy, especially with young children in the house. Here’s a before and after shot of the bottom of my pantry.

storing plastic bags before and after

Same amount of bags. Much less space. No struggling to find a bag. Easy to grab. Are you convinced yet?

It’s easy to fold plastic bags. Here, let me show you.

how to fold plastic bags

1. Lay bag flat   2. Fold in half     3. Fold in half again    4. Fold bottom up to make a square

5. Take point and fold along the side to make a triangle

6. Continue to fold the triangle up the bag    7. Fold the excess inside the flap

Housekeeping: it’s all about finding a system that works for you and your family.  This is the best system I’ve found for us, but oh, I do like the pretty colours on that plastic bag holder. Tell me about your system. Is it working?

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75 Comments

  • Reply
    Shar
    January 28, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Ah my dad does that! I noticed him folding plastic bags while we were away on holidays with him, and thought it was a great idea, but never asked him how he did it. Off to fold a heap of plastic bags!!

    • Reply
      Kelly B
      January 31, 2011 at 8:21 am

      @Shar, You know, it’s rather disturbing but I actually look forward to folding them! For someone who hates folding washing, this is quite a revelation. HA!

  • Reply
    Marcia
    January 28, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I do this too. I thought I was the only one!

  • Reply
    sarah
    January 28, 2011 at 10:44 am

    I do this too! Slightly different fold, but geez so easy to access them when I need them!

    Not crazy, sensible 🙂

  • Reply
    Nicole Grant
    January 28, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Brilliant!!! My bags are stored hanging in a bag like the one you have pictured, and it drives me crazy when they all fall out. I do like that bag too BTW! But, I think I am going to start folding too. How clever!!

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      January 31, 2011 at 8:28 am

      @Nicole Grant, Hope it helps Nicole. It took me a long while to be converted but it’s so fantastic now! Wish I had done it much, much earlier.

  • Reply
    Kristie
    January 28, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I do this too, but i tie them instead of fold them. The amount of space i saved is awesome, and they are so much easier to find! I love that my mother-in-law taught me this and i use it regularly.

  • Reply
    Casey
    January 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Ok, so I have an ingenious system at my house, I really should take a picture for you. I took a very pretty empty tissue box and stuffed a plastic bag inside with the handles poking out, then the next bags bottom gets looped through the handles and shoved inside with it’s handles poking out and so on and soforth until the tissue box is jam packed. (Takes about the same amount as if you stored them in a pplastic bag as per your before pic.) then as you pull one out it pulls the next one out just a little before freeing itself from the handles, thus working just like a tissue or wipes dispenser. I suppose come to think of it that it would work equally as well with a wipes dispenser but pretty tissue boxes do look pretty and take up minimal space.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      January 31, 2011 at 8:30 am

      @Casey, YES! Send me a pic and I’ll add it to the post Casey. Sounds very groovy.

    • Reply
      Alisha Luxford
      January 12, 2012 at 10:25 am

      That sounds like a great idea!

  • Reply
    BookChook
    January 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Why is it that I leave your blog so often thinking, “Now why didn’t I think of that?”

    I use the bag stuffing method and bags are always leaping out to attack me. So this is a transformational idea.

    We use the recycle cloth bags for supermarket shopping, so I guard the plastic grocery bags we do have with determination. But they are so handy at times eg for containing the prawn shells in the freezer until it’s greenwaste bin day.

  • Reply
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    January 28, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Be A Fun Mum, Be A Fun Mum. Be A Fun Mum said: Storing Plastic Bags & Ironing Underwear http://beafunmum.com/2011/01/storing-plastic-bags-how-to-fold-a-plastic-bag/ http://fb.me/yEy9Hly8 […]

  • Reply
    Kylee Paulissen
    January 28, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    What a great idea. Never seen or heard of it before. You know what I’ll be doing tonight Kell, lol.

  • Reply
    Jen Finch
    January 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Love the folding idea. I tie mine in a loose knot as a habit from when the kids were small (prevent them putting them over their heads!) and put them in a bag holder my sister made for me from a “Red Tractor Designs” teatowel. The plastic bags don’t tend to all jump out at me and I still get a pretty bag holder as well. How would the folded bags go in a holder Kell?

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      January 31, 2011 at 8:34 am

      @Jen Finch, Well, I had another reader say it didn’t work to put them in a plastic bag holder because they kept falling out the bottom. HA! I just HAVE to say goodbye to the pretty bag holder…that’s okay. hehe

  • Reply
    Lucy
    January 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Kelly, I used to do this (and I never admitted it to ANYONE!). SA is now a plastic bagless state – so we no longer have any at all. We have no option but envirobags, which I store in the back of the car. But I miss my folded plastic bag stash….

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      January 31, 2011 at 8:36 am

      @Lucy, LOL. You make me laugh Lucy. Well your secret is OUT!

      BTW: SA is so forward thinking aren’t they? Go SA!

  • Reply
    Meegan
    January 29, 2011 at 8:16 am

    I LOVE it!!!! I too am no longer a stuffer… I check for sneaky holes/tears, flatten, and then loosely knot each bag before it goes in a wooden storage cylinder thingy that my Dad made for me. I can always just grab one bag out at a time, and because of my initial quality control you know it’s always going to be a decent one…

    Really, I think about this way too much…! !

    Great tutorial Kelly!
    xo

  • Reply
    Nicole
    January 29, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    I like to tie my bags Kel. This is kind of like the toilet paper choice huh? Do you fold or scrunch? Hahaha. Good idea though, it would save much space.

  • Reply
    Michelle Dennis Evans
    January 29, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I like it! I like how you tuck it in.. almost the same as tying in a knot but more compact.

  • Reply
    suburp
    January 30, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    oooh ? O_O
    I am very impressed! I always wanted a bag-bag/holder but noticed, at other people’s houses, how they just do not really work well either.
    Most times, i just have a few messy bags on the side of my recycling box under the sink. I use big (ikea) bags for food shopping most times, and the occasional bag is rapidly used and thrown out so I guess the time to fold it would be a bit of a waste.. but I am..really quite impressed here.
    (and no, my underwear isn’t ironed either.. )

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      January 31, 2011 at 8:43 am

      @suburp, big ikea bags? Oooo, I want one.

      • Reply
        suburp
        February 1, 2011 at 11:55 am

        @Kelly Be A Fun Mum,
        oh? well let’s meet up at Logan sometimes 🙂
        i have a few of their (ugly but practical) huge blue bags, but once filled with groceries, only my husband can move them, lol
        they do other sort of beach bags tho, and i got me some of those a while bag.
        mine are more colorful than those on the site at the moment, they probably change the design around from time to time – but hey 2 bucks!!
        http://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/60174257

        • Reply
          Kelly Be A Fun Mum
          February 3, 2011 at 9:27 pm

          @suburp, Ooooo, nice! I like black. You know, I can’t even remember last time I went to ikea…. It’s been far too long.

  • Reply
    Katherine
    January 30, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    What a great idea – I’ll pass it on to my mum!

    xox

  • Reply
    Rebecca Newman
    January 31, 2011 at 12:08 am

    I’m so happy to find this demo, because I used to know how to do it (about 20 years ago) but had forgotten. We had an exchange student from Japan when I was about 17 and she showed us how to fold them. But we liked our groovy bag dispenser (not unlike yours, but with more 90s-looking fabric!) so we tried folding them AND keeping them in the dispenser. Didn’t work. They all dropped out the bottom in a waterfall of folded bags. It didn’t stop us feeding them back in the top though. We were persistent …

  • Reply
    Marita
    February 3, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    My mum folds her plastic bags into squares. While I was visiting her I thought I’d help and fold the shopping bags to put away for her. I didn’t make them flat enough so she got them out and refolded.

    Then later I helped her fold her washing to send out to her ironing lady – she used a ruler to make sure it was straight.

    OCD gone wild 😀

    My plastic bags go into a canvas bag hanging on a hook in the laundry. It is out of sight but not out of mind.

  • Reply
    Karen
    February 5, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Hi Kelly

    I have just folded all our untidy shopping bags and now have a little tray similar to yours with neatly folded bags…I am tempted to leave the cupboard door open to show them off to guests they look so neat (lol)!!!

    Actually, what made it more fun was i started folding and then my Little Miss 9 and Master 7 both were interested in learning as well. It turned into a nice little origami type activity that was fun…and particularly helpful to me.

    Thank you for posting this!!

    ~kaz~

    • Reply
      Kelly B
      February 28, 2011 at 8:18 am

      @Karen, Love this sort of feedback Kaz. Thanks for coming back and leaving a comment xx

  • Reply
    Trish
    February 28, 2011 at 8:10 am

    HI Kelly
    I was taught this trick about 19 years ago and did it for many years…then once i was showing some fellow co workers this trick and one of them thought i was crazy to waste my time –he went home and got his wife to sew me a bag keeper LOL…so haven’t folded them very often the last few years …

    it does look neater though…

    • Reply
      Kelly B
      February 28, 2011 at 8:20 am

      @Trish, I put off doing this for the same reason. It seemed too much trouble but it really takes no time at all and it makes things so much easier.

  • Reply
    Mon
    February 28, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Wow! That seems a bit tricky. I’m a fold-in-half-then-tie-in-a-knot kinda girl. 🙂

    • Reply
      Kelly B
      February 28, 2011 at 8:21 am

      @Mon, It’s not that tricky once you get the hang of it. But yes, a lot of people tie knots. Does it save much space?

  • Reply
    Kim
    February 28, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Kelly, I don’t fold my plastic bags but I do tie a knot in them!! I have 3 littlies under 4yrs so safety is an issue to some degree…. I do the fold in half thing and then tie a knot in the middle and store them in the Bag bag hanging inside my panty. If they happen to get one of the bags while I’m not looking hopefully I find them before they get the knot untied and don’t suffocate!!

    I love your idea of folding and think I’ll take it on in years to come 😉 although, saying that, no doubt we won’t be allowed any plastic bags in years to come.

    • Reply
      Kelly B
      February 28, 2011 at 8:24 am

      @Kim, Yeah, safety is a good idea. I’ve only just started folding bags but I really wish I had sooner. It really doesn’t take any time at all and is so convenient. Does the knot way save any space?

      • Reply
        Kim
        February 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm

        @Kelly B,
        I think the knot stops them from getting tangled up in the bag bag, cause I only ever get one out, but used to have same problem as you with 5 coming out all at once.
        I suppose it saves a little space cause I can fit heaps in!!

        • Reply
          Kelly Be A Fun Mum
          February 28, 2011 at 3:42 pm

          @Kim, That’s great! Yeah, I was really bad at filling a bag full of other bags and then putting them in the bag bag. LOL. There’s a lot of bags in that sentence. It’s great when you find a system that works for you hey… I’m always trying new things until I get it just right for our family…but I’m not afraid to change either.

  • Reply
    Nanny Long,
    February 28, 2011 at 8:23 am

    I am definitily am a convert,I use green bags but I still get alot of bags,now instead of a massive bag of plastic ,I have a small basket of tidy bags,I will nevergo back to the old way,Thank you Kelly you have so many good idea’s love NANNY

  • Reply
    Trish @ my little drummers
    February 28, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    very clever I am going to try this !

  • Reply
    Alisha Luxford
    January 12, 2012 at 10:28 am

    You’re an inspiration! I’ve never thought about folding them, but I get frustrated EVERY DAY with the bags inside a bag thing, that hangs in my laundry. You’ve answered my prayers! Thank you thank you thank you! OMG! You don’t know how much this means to me.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      January 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      HA! I’m so glad! It’s made a HUGE impact on me too. xxxx

  • Reply
    Kylie
    February 22, 2012 at 11:08 am

    My MIL has always folded and tied the knot. Then they go into the plastic bag holder. Needless to say I’ve never liked putting bags away at her place! All the down sides of folding with non of the up sides. Am thinking I may have to give this a go though. I have an IKEA bag holder with is full to beyond overflowing and hubby stresses all my bags will knock out our fridge water pipe which runs under our sink where the bags are kept. Do I have the time though?….. I like the idea of teaching the kids. Maybe that’s a “craft” activity for today!

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      February 22, 2012 at 11:30 am

      I just found the stuffing in bag method just didn’t work for me. It really didn’t take up very much time to fold them (maybe 10 minutes) and then keeping up with folding bags takes no time at all as you do it as you go. It’s so easy to grab a bag whenever I need, or to pop in my handbag. I wouldn’t call myself the most consistent person on the planet but I’ve never looked back since I started doing this. It’s very sustainable for me. Give it a go!

      • Reply
        Kylie
        February 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm

        10 minutes! I’ve started…. I think both you and I underestimated my bag supply……..

  • Reply
    Crystal
    February 22, 2012 at 11:19 am

    My husband does that! But plastic bags are illegal (!) where I live, and we no longer have this problem…!

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      February 22, 2012 at 11:32 am

      That’s prob a very good thing (ie. not having plastic bags). I do try and minimise how many plastic bags we have because they are bad for the environment but they are not illegal where I live (yet).

  • Reply
    Jennifer Ebbage
    February 22, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Hey Kelly, great idea with the plastic bags, but I am WAY more impressed that you answered pretty much everyone’s comment!!! That is commitment to your readers. Thank you for your wonderful and continuing interesting stuff. I haven’t sent you a msg for a while – I’ve hardly had a chance to read!!! But I ready ALL of this one!

    xxxx

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      February 23, 2012 at 7:09 am

      I appreciate my readers SOOO much. Thanks for taking the time to comment. x

  • Reply
    pamela long
    February 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Folding the bags is the best ,I have done it since you first put it on,and it takes no time,and is so neat,thank you Kelly,xx

  • Reply
    Annaleis Topham
    February 22, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Great idea! That pretty plastic bag holder would be great for holding rags in! Never know when you might need one!

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Carrie
    April 30, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    What a great idea! Will have to try!! Am thinking they’d fit great in the glove compartment this way, too!

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    valleygirl
    June 20, 2013 at 6:04 am

    I was hoping to find a way to dispense out of another bag somehow, that to me would be worth doing, but just folding seems silly. Sorry. I stuff all my bags into another one and they go under the cabinet. If they come out when I want one I just stuff them back. Takes about 2 seconds which I cannot imagine the “it takes no time at all” can break that record. LOL If I could get my kids to do it, sure, but for me to take time to do that just seems silly and an incredible waste of time.

  • Reply
    crystal bags
    June 13, 2014 at 5:07 am

    Hey there! I’ve been following your blog for a while now
    and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Kingwood Tx!
    Just wanted to mention keep up the good work!

  • Reply
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