Since the proliferation of using reusable straws and grocery bags, many Americans are becoming more aware of the waste left behind by single-use plastic items. For example, those plastic sandwich baggies that go straight into the garbage after lunch. To save the environment (and your conscience), try eco-friendly reusable sandwich bags—like our favorite the Lunchskins Reusable 2-Pack Bag Set(available at Amazon for $10.99).
These baggies are typically dishwasher safe, making them easy to clean and reuse for your favorite sandwiches when bringing that classic brown bagged lunch to work or school. There are a few brands out there creating reusable food storage bags which range from fun patterns to that classic plastic bag look. These products are great for holding snacks or various supplies when you're on the go.
Surprisingly, some of these bags are awkward sizes, difficult to use, and frustrating to clean. To streamline your packed lunches, we spent time testing five reusable sandwich bags (and enjoying many sandwiches) to determine which ones were easiest to use and will hold up over time.
Here are the best reusable sandwich bags we tested ranked, in order:
Lunchskins Reusable 2-Pack Bag Set
rezip Lay-Flat Reusable Storage Bag
Stasher Reusable Silicone Food Bag
Diweiya Reusable Sandwich Bags
WINIT Reusable Silicone Food Storage Container
Lunchskins Reusable 2-Pack Bag Set
The Lunchskins bag really surprised me. With kitschy patterns and velcro seal, I was skeptical that it would actually keep a sandwich fresh for very long. But out of all the bags, Lunchskins was the only one that seemed to have any temperature protection, making it ideal for keeping in a lunch bag throughout the day.
The bag was the perfect sandwich size, fitting all of them snugly without squishing any no matter how thick the sandwich was. The bendable fabric material also made it easy to get a sandwich in there without a tight squeeze. Since it’s both dishwasher-safe and quick-drying, it’s easy to clean even if you hand wash them. Plus, they come in a variety of fun patterns that make it ideal for kids' lunches.
The plastic material of the rezip bags makes it very versatile. Not only can they hold sandwiches, but they’re also dishwasher-safe, freezer-safe, leak-proof, and great for placing snacks and toiletries in when traveling—giving you multiple uses from a single bag.
It's also easy to use as a sandwich bag, as it can fit sandwiches of all sizes without squishing them. But the bag is slightly large for a sandwich bag and there was a bit too much airspace after placing a sandwich inside, making me worried that some of the contents would spill out. In my experience, my sandwich stayed together, but it may fall apart in the lunch box of an energetic child. It was also easy to hand wash, but you do need to make sure the bag is held open by a cup to assure it dries completely.
I’m Courtney Campbell, an e-commerce writer, and I spend most days sifting through the best deals on the Internet for the best products out there. I try to be as eco-conscious as possible (but believe me, I’m not perfect), so I’m always looking for ways to cut back on my daily waste. Reusables are pretty hot right now, so it’s always fun to try out the latest eco-trend.
The Testing Process
We began testing by washing each bag. All the bags are top-rack dishwasher safe, but if you’re reusing the bags each day, you might want to hand wash them instead of waiting for the dishwasher to finish. To make sure they dry properly, you need to set them open over a mug or place a paper towel inside.
We also tested to see if any of the bags had any temperature protection. Since these sandwich bags will most likely be used in lunch boxes with an ice pack, it’s good to know that the sandwiches will hold up until lunchtime without refrigeration. We used temperature data loggers, which are about the size of watch batteries, to record the temperature inside the sandwich bags with a turkey, cheese, and lettuce sandwich over the course of 24 hours. If a sandwich bag was able to ward off increasing to room temperature for any length of time, then it has some form, however minor, of temperature protection.
I also used the reusable sandwich bags in my daily life. Every morning I would make a thick hummus and vegetable sandwich, store it in a reusable sandwich bag, and bring it to work in a lunch bag with an ice pack. When I ate lunch around 1 p.m., I smelled and examined the sandwich to see if it was still fresh.
Finally, I made three turkey, cheese, and lettuce sandwiches with three different breads: the classic white bread, a bulky roll, and a pita. I then attempted to put each sandwich in the reusable bags to see if they would fit or be smooshed. Other factors were considered with each bag including the material, ease of use, how easy it is to clean, and if there were any special features that gave the bag an advantage.
What to Know About Reusable Sandwich Bags
Are Reusable Sandwich Bags Safe?
When shopping for the right set of bags, one of the first things you'll want to look for is whether the material is food-safe. Most options are made from plastic or silicone, which might be concerning at first, given the proven health risks of certain plastics.
But not all plastics are created equal: All of the bags we tested are made with food-grade materials, which means they're free of harmful chemicals like BPA, PVC, and phthalate. Just check the bag's label or website description to be sure the materials you choose are safe to use and reuse.
How to Wash Reusable Sandwich Bags
You might be turned off from the idea of reusable snack bags because of the hassle. "Another thing to wash at the end of the day?" But trust us: The minimization of waste (and the money saved from nixing disposable bags) is worth the extra effort. Plus, all of the bags we tested are machine-washable, which means you can toss them in the dishwasher with the rest of your load at the end of the day.
Sometimes, though, you might need a little extra elbow grease to get rid of lingering stains from things like sauce, fruit, and veggies. In that case, we recommend using hot water and regular dish detergent (or a homemade blend of baking soda and vinegar) with a kitchen sponge or brush. If the bag seals, you can swish the water and cleaning solution around while it's closed to break up any tacked-on foods, then scrub the rest by hand.
And if you're dealing with mold in the corners of your bag, let it sit in white vinegar or boiling water before running it through the dishwasher again.
How to Dry Reusable Sandwich Bags
Drying a reusable sandwich bag properly is the second most important way to maintain it (behind washing it well, of course), in order to avoid any mold growth. And this part can be tricky; your bag probably won't just air dry in the dishwasher like your plates do.
Once your bags are clean, you'll want to keep them open, facing down on a drying rack for a while to make sure all the lingering drops fall out. You can also place some paper towels or absorbent dish towels inside to speed up the drying process.
Other Reusable Sandwich Bags We Tested
Stasher Reusable Silicone Food Bag
After seeing Stasher bags all over the internet, I had high hopes for the silicone bag. However, I found that the thick material squished the sandwiches and it took quite a bit of effort to get them through the opening—and some of the bread ripped in the process. I also had to flip the sandwiches around a bit to get them to fit. But smaller sandwiches had no problems fitting.
The silicone material is quite sturdy, giving the bag additional functions other than just holding sandwiches. The Stasher bags can also be used for cooking including techniques like sous vide, are oven safe, and are a good size for holding various snacks and small toiletry items when traveling.
These reusable sandwich bags have a few fun patterns to choose from. They are a bit small to fit thicker sandwiches without squishing them, but they should work for most kid-sized sandwiches. While testing, sometimes I struggled to move the zipper opening, which makes me worried that it'll catch over time.
The biggest issue I had with these bags is that the fabric material took too long to dry and was still wet after attempting to dry them with a paper towel. That means you can’t use these bags immediately after washing, making it difficult to clean and use if you have a time crunch.
I really struggled with the WINIT storage bags. At first, I couldn’t figure out how to open the ziplock seal, but after several tries, I finally could open and close it with ease. It was a bit sticky on the inside, which made it difficult to slide a sandwich through the bag. There was also a weird plastic smell that threw me off and because of the bags stand-up design, it’s not ideal for traveling in a lunch bag.
It is the only reusable bag designed to hold liquids without spilling, so it may be more useful for storing gravy or produce in your fridge or freezer.
Courtney is an editor and shopper with a passion for finding the best things on the internet. She's a foodie and will talk about the latest batch of kombucha she's brewing to anyone who will listen. She has previously worked for Country Living, Woman's Day, and Our State Magazine.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.