Although reusable shopping bags are increasing in popularity as they replace the use of paper and plastic bags, researchers are advising the importance of cleaning and sanitizing them. In many cities including Eugene, Oregon, ordinances exist that encourage reusable bags.
In 2012, a reusable bag was identified as the culprit of causing a severe norovirus outbreak in an Oregon soccer team. Since reusable bags are placed in shopping carts, floors, car trunks (which tend to be warm and only increase the amount of bacteria) and other potentially unsanitary locations, consumers should be aware of how contaminated these bags may become. However, simply washing them may decrease the contaminants by as much as 99.9%!