I am using this kind of vacuum bag for sous vide. They work perfectly but recently I have been having a problem cleaning them.

I let them sit for a few days after using them without cleaning them, because I was too lazy - no excuses here. Then I got to scrubbing. I scrubbed them thoroughly with dishwashing liquid and even though they were completely clean they still smelled foul. So I scrubbed them again with antibacterial soap, thinking bacteria began to thrive from the decomposing meat and somehow clung to the bag, but they still smell bad.

Before I used to use the same kind of bag but bought from a different seller. The "model" was exactly the same, save that both sides of the bag were smooth. The ones I am currently using have one of the inside sides sort of "ribbed" with tiny horizontal and vertical grooves. I had no problem cleaning my old bags but now I can't seem to be able to get rid of the smell of these ones.

The smell wouldn't be bothering me so much if I knew it was safe to reuse them but I'm thinking it might harm the food if I cook it in them.

Am I correct in assuming so and, in either event, how should I get rid of the smell?

Just to be clear my main point is I am asking how to best clean my bags not if it's safe to reuse them.

  • 1
    90% of the time I use zip style bags, the other 10% I vacuum seal. I don't reuse...not for safety reasons, but because it is a p.i.t.a. I see your link, they look reusable, but I wouldn't leave them unclean for any length of time. I am also recalling a previous question on this topic...found it.
    – moscafj
    Commented May 27, 2018 at 21:31
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Is safe to reuse plastic bags used for sous vide
    – moscafj
    Commented May 27, 2018 at 21:35
  • @moscafj : not an exact duplicate, as there's the variable of leaving them dirty for days before trying to clean them
    – Joe
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 14:37
  • Also worth mentioning that the texture of the bag might make it harder to clean, but they exist so it's so that when you place a cut piece of meat down on the bag it's less likely to form a suction and trap air bubbles or prevent marinades from getting to it. (when I used to do vacuum bagging for composites, we'd put down a layer of non-woven fabric down to prevent the air bubble issues)
    – Joe
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 14:41
  • 1
    @J.Doe FWIW, smell is not a reliable indicator of safety.
    – moscafj
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 19:06

1 Answer 1


I agree with @moscafj's answer to the linked question. As long as they are thoroughly washed and dried, the bags should be safe. However, you are still left with the smell.

Some plastics will absorb odors and it can be quite unpleasant. My go to for any issue with odors in plastic is baking soda. It works well in absorbing these odors and getting them out of the plastic material.

I would suggest placing some baking soda inside the bags and closing them up. Let them sit for a few hours or overnight. Discard the baking soda, then rinse well and dry thoroughly. If there is a small amount of residual odor, you can repeat the process. At the most, twice should definitely take care of it.

  • I will certainly try that and comment to say how it went. :)
    – J. Doe
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 18:52
  • Sorry to say the baking soda didn't help much. :(
    – J. Doe
    Commented Jul 20, 2018 at 18:51

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