How to Fold Plastic Bags…and Reusable Bags Too

Wondering how to organize bags? Follow these easy steps to learn how to fold plastic bags for easy storage. This same method can be used to organize reusable bags too!

The Best Method to Finally Get Your Bags Organized

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you click a link and make a purchase I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you). Please see my disclaimer page for more information.


I have a confession to make. I may have let my plastic bag stash take over part of my pantry. It didn’t happen all at once. But slowly, over time the bags have multiplied into a plastic organizational menace.

You see, I really love the grocery bag organizer that I purchased to keep my bags stored nicely, but it didn’t take long to fill and now the overflow is taking over my pantry floor.

Plastic bags piled on pantry floor

(No. This was not just thrown together for a dramatic before and after picture. This was really what my bag stash in my pantry had turned into.)

I know what you are thinking! “Geez lady, recycle them already!”

But I actually do use them around the house to save money in place of purchasing plastic garbage bags.

I definitely needed a better way to organize my bags.

In the past we have tied them in a knot and stuffed them in one of the plastic bags. From the chaos of my pantry floor, you can see this system was not working so well for me anymore. I had to find another method.

If you are like me and have let your bags rule, here is the method I use now to organize and fold plastic bags.

How to Fold Plastic Bags

Step 1: Lay the bag flat on the ground. (It doesn’t really matter if your bags are from the same store. I mixed and matched depending on what I had lying around.)

Step 2: Fold it in half. It is important that your bags stay flat and that all of the air is out of them. Take this time to smooth the bag down.

Folding plastic grocery bags in half

Step 3: The handles should be pointing straight up at this point. Now you are going to take the handles of the bag and fold them to the left across the body of the bag. (Only fold the handles, not the body of the bag). Now they should be sticking out of the top of the left side of your flat bag.

Folding bag handles across the bag

Step 4: Start rolling the bag like a jelly roll or mini sleeping bag, keeping the tip of the handles sticking out of your roll. When the bag is about 1/3 of the way rolled, add another halved bag on top of the first. The handles of the second bag, should tuck under the roll that you started. The sides of this second bag will line up with the sides of the first, however the end should hang over the end of your first bag, because you already rolled your first bag 1/3 shorter.

Important: Keep the handles of the second bag straight. Do not fold them over.

Now, keep rolling the first bag over the top of the second.

How to fold plastic bags into rolls


Rollin (add a bag), Rollin (add a bag), Rollin!

Keep rolling bags until you have the size of roll you need. I used anywhere from 10-14 bags, depending on the size of my container and the thickness of the plastic bags.

Now here’s the cool part!

As you pull the bags out of your container, they will dispense in a similar fashion as a Kleenex out of a Kleenex box. (Just don’t try to blow your nose on a plastic bag!) When you pull the first one, the handle of the next one will stick up in its place.

Note: If you don’t have enough plastic bags to finish a roll, you can rubber band the roll to keep it from unraveling and add more the next time you go shopping. Another option (and the thing that I do) is to stick a small bucket under the kitchen sink to collect loose bags in. When there are enough accumulated, roll them up all at once. And, since my family doesn’t quite understand my method or desire to roll my bags this keeps us all happy because they have somewhere to throw plastic bags in until I can roll them.

Roll all of your plastic bags into separate “cartridges” that you can insert into your bag dispensers when they are empty. Store your extras in a box on the shelf or in a closet until you need them.

Storing Your Bags

Now that you have all of these fun rolled bag “cartridges” what do you do with them? One bag dispenser just doesn’t seem enough when there are so many places these bags can come in handy.

Don’t worry! It’s easy to make your own bag dispensers out of upcycled canisters.

You can use any container with a cylinder shape (ex. Lysol container, oatmeal container, Parmesan container, etc.) I happened to use round coffee containers to make two more dispensers. I made a fun printable label that I adhered to the container with clear contact paper.

Printable bag labels

Note: You can download my FREE Bag Label from my free resource library available to my email subscribers. You can get a password for it by signing up at the bottom of this page!

I cut an x in the top of the lid with a box cutter for the bags to pop through. Each side of the x was about 1 1/2″ long. This seemed to be enough space for my bags to pull through easily.

Cutting bag dispenser lid

Rolling Reusable Bags

This method also works for reusable bags, with only a couple of differences.

Step 1: Take out the cardboard bottom. (I know this is supposed to add strength, but mine always bends and gets in the way, so I discarded mine.)

Step 2: Fold the bag in thirds.

Folding reusable bags

Note: I used a round icecream bucket to store my bags in. Folding my bags in thirds was the best way to get the height right to fit in the bucket. If you choose to use a different container, then you may not have to fold it in thirds.

Step 3: Roll the bags the same way you rolled the plastic bags. The handles of the first bag should be bent towards the side. Then roll the bag about a third of the way. Place a second bag with the handles straight over the first bag. Roll the first bag over the second. Keep adding bags until you’ve reached the desired thickness of your roll.

Folding reusable bags

Step 4: Place your roll in a container and decorate. I spray painted my icecream bucket and cut out my bag label. I used clear contact paper to stick it on the outside of my bucket.

Use a box cutter to once again cut an x in the cover of your container to allow space for the bags to be dispensed. I cut each side of this x to be 5″ long because the cloth bags are bulkier to pull out.

Where To Use Your Folded Bags

These bag storage containers are useful in so many locations.

Plastic bags in car

I use them to organize my car glove compartment. I plan on using my reusable bag container in the trunk of my car.

My camper drawer looks a lot better now that I used one of these organizers.

Camper bags before and after organization

It is so nice to have my bags easy to find, use, and dispense.

I also kept a canister at my garage sale table. It helped organizine my garage sale by giving me easy access to the bags I needed for putting purchased items in.

Toy cash register, notebook, and bags for garage sale organization

The form you have selected does not exist.

Is it weird that I think it is cool that the bags come out of the container like a kleenex?!!!

Yep. I’m still going on about that. But, you have to admit. Knowing how to fold plastic bags like this is pretty awesome!!!

Need more ideas to help you organize your home? Check out this post on organizing your junk drawer and this post on folding and organizing your clothes.

How to fold plastic bags

Want to remember this organization hack? Save it to your favorite organization board on Pinterest.

How to Organize Plastic Bags in your pantry. Pictures of bags on floor in pantry and organized in dispensers.

Want More Great Ideas? You Might Like These..

How about you? Where have your bags taken over in your life?

Smiling woman with brown hair

Thank you for reading! I am so glad that you stopped by! If you enjoyed reading this, I would love for you to share it on Pinterest and Facebook!

Creatively Yours, Erin

Are we friends on Instagram?

Follow @PracticalWhimsyDesigns to see more
behind the scenes projects

1 thought on “How to Fold Plastic Bags…and Reusable Bags Too”

Leave a Comment