Tuesday, October 3, 2023


25 unusual uses for zip-type bags while RVing

At the 1963 packaging trade show a unique idea was introduced: a plastic bag featuring a plastic zipper-type seal! Now, zip-type bags like Ziploc® have found a place in nearly every home all over the world. RVers like these handy sealable bags for much more than simple food storage. This clever invention is so versatile and weighs next to nothing. Here are some unusual uses for zip-type bags while RVing.

Note: Always be mindful of the environmental impact of plastic waste. Many of the following ideas can be utilized over and over again—using the same bag! Plastic zip-type bags are washable. I use warm, soapy dish water followed by a thorough rinse. Towel dry to remove most of the moisture. Finish drying by letting the bag stand upright over a jar or drinking glass. Prefer to use reusable silicone zip bags? Find many options here

  • Flat ice packs. Partially fill a zip-type bag. Position it in your freezer so the bag lies flat. Once frozen, place the ice pack at the bottom, sides, and in between layers of food in your cooler. The ice keeps things cool while not occupying much space in the cooler. Find additional cooler tips here.
  • Boo-boo bag. Freeze a wet sponge inside a zip-type bag. This works great to soothe little ones’ bumps and thumps. The best part? No drippy ice pack!
  • Crumble bag. Need to crush crackers or cookies for a recipe? Seal crackers/cookies inside a zip-type bag and roll a rolling pin over the bag until everything’s crumbled.
  • Phone protector. If your RVing adventures include water sports or beach time, put your cell phone inside a zip-type bag. The bag will keep sand and moisture away from your phone and you can still access the touch screen.
  • Protect breakables. Zip-type bags can sometimes be used in place of bubble wrap. All you do is slip a drinking straw into the nearly closed bag and inflate. Quickly close the bag and use it to cushion breakables on campground moving day.
  • Pipe frosting. Celebrating while on the road? No need to bring along cake decorating supplies. Just snip a corner off a zip-type plastic bag and use it like a pastry bag.
  • Beach helper. Take large, zip-type bags with you to the beach or campground swimming pool. Mark each bag with its owner’s (child’s) name. Place snacks, goggles, sunblock, sunglasses, and more in the bag to take to the pool. After swimming, put wet bathing suits into the emptied zip-type bag before placing the bag(s) back into your beach tote. The zip-type bag will keep other items in your tote dry.
  • Food marination. Place marinating recipe ingredients inside a zip-type bag. Zip closed. Shake the bag to mix the ingredients. Then put the meat or veggies into the bag and reseal. Turn the bag several times to ensure that all of the ingredients are coated with marinade. Then let the marination bag sit inside your RV refrigerator or camp cooler until grilling time.
  • Impromptu gloves. Zip-type bags can serve as impromptu gloves. After the messy job is completed, turn the bag inside out and toss or wash.
  • Pack more. Store more clothing in small spaces. Place clothing inside large zip-type bags. Once clothes are inside the bag, zip the bag nearly closed. Then, use your hands to press excess air out of the bag. Clothes will take up much less room in RV drawers.
  • Save herbs. Only need a teaspoon of that herb for tonight’s recipe? Don’t let the remaining bundle go to waste. Wash it. Pat dry, and place inside a zip-type bag. Use a permanent marker to label the bag and then toss it into your RV’s freezer for use later.
  • Transfer dirty dishes. After the RV potluck ends, place your dirty dishes and cutlery inside a zip-type bag. That way, you can transport the dirties back to your RV without soiling your picnic bag.
  • Map keeper. Keep your hiking map clean and dry by placing it inside a zip-type bag.
  • Remove gum. Put some ice cubes into a zip-type bag and close the bag. Rub the ice over gum that’s accidentally mashed into your RV’s carpet. The ice will freeze the gum, making it hard. Tap the frozen gum with a hammer and vacuum up the bits.
  • “Erp” bag. If a travel buddy suffers from car sickness on RV moving days, pack several paper towels inside a zip-type bag. The bag can hold “erps” (after removing towels), while the towels can help clean hands/face. Dispose of the bag at the nearest trash receptacle.
  • Moist wipes. You don’t need to haul a large pack of wet wipes as you hike. Instead, place three or four wipes inside a zip-type bag and seal. The wipes will offer welcome relief from summer’s heat. Rub them over your face, neck, and arms.
  • Campfires. A zip-type bag will help keep kindling and matches dry. You can also store homemade fire starters inside a zip-type bag. See my article about fire starters here.
  • Emergency pillow. Inflate a zip-type bag, cover it with a towel and use it for a makeshift pillow.
  • Mini first aid. Place Band-Aids and antiseptic cream inside a zip-type bag and carry your mini first aid pack in your pocket.
  • Baggie breakfast. You’ll need freezer zip-type bags for this quick and easy breakfast. Inside the freezer bag, add cooked bacon bits, shredded cheese, chopped peppers, sliced mushrooms, and whatever other omelet add-ins you like. At breakfast time, get the campfire started and put a pot of water on the fire. Grab the prepared baggie breakfast recipe and add one or two eggs to the bag. Zip the bag closed and shake to mix. Drop the bag into the pot of boiling water and cook for three minutes (or until eggs are set). Let the omelet cool a bit and then open the bag and eat breakfast right from the bag!
  • Funnel. Use the plastic bag as a funnel. Snip a corner off the bag and fill it with whatever you need funneled.
  • Gun/ammo. A freezer zipper-type bag will keep moisture away from a handgun and ammo.
  • Extra TP. Not sure if that trail outhouse will have a well-stocked restroom? Pack some bath tissue inside a small zip-type bag to carry in your pocket, just in case.
  • Pack kids’ clothes. Place a full day’s outfit for each child—shirt, shorts, socks, underwear, even hair bands in a zip-type bag. Zip nearly closed and press excess air from bag. This tip keeps clothes organized and by labeling each bag, kids can find their own clothes and independently dress themselves.
  • Battery storage. Keep extra batteries dry inside zip-type bags—different size batteries in proportionally sized bags.

Do you use zipper-type bags in unusual ways when RVing? Tell us about it in the comments below.


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


4.6 13 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 months ago

Why is it that I can buy socks in a resealable zipper bag but a bag of chips still needs to be folded down and clipped?
I have never once not taken all of the socks out of the package.

3 months ago
Reply to  Snayte

It’s certainly one of life’s great mysteries!

3 months ago

Use a small size freezer bag to grease wheel bearings. Add enough grease to do one bearing drop in clean bearing and squeeze grease in all parts of the bearing. Be sure to wear disposable gloves.

3 months ago

Great research Gail. Just a word of caution – if storing batteries loosely,, be sure to tape over the electrical contacts on any 9V batteries, (little square ones). Any metal contact between the contacts can overheat the battery and start a fire. Also cover when disposing of them – or, hopefully recycling them.

Bill Byerly
3 months ago

Some new uses I never thought of before. Thanks Gail.

Neal Davis
3 months ago

That’s a lot of uses! Thank you, Gail!

Pam Medina
3 months ago

I recently got Pink Eye which is very contagious. The doctor said to use a cold compress. I wet two washcloths, put them in ziplock bags & put them in the RV freezer. I would take one out of the bag & apply to my eyes then return to baggie & toss back in the frig. Worked great & did not get the pink eye germs on anything in the refrigerator.

3 months ago

Since we have a small fridge in our RV I use ziploc bags for leftovers. They fit better in the fridge than the bulky plastic containers do.

Jim Johnson
3 months ago

I use a 2 gallon zip lock style bag for the waste tank tools that won’t go into the rear bumper.

3 months ago

I would not suggest cooking with baggies, these plastics may break down microscopically with the heat, and get into the food. Just my two cents.

MJ Dorn
3 months ago

Thank you for the great tips. I dated one ziplock to see how long it lasted and I used it for four years. We always wash and dry them, saves the environment and money. My mother taught me this, she lived during the great depression and was very frugal.

3 months ago
Reply to  MJ Dorn

In the 1950s loaves of bread came in plastic bags. One of my jobs was to turn them in-side-out and wash them and hang them on the clothes line on the back porch to dry. Mom would use them for food in the freezer and fridge and to pack my lunch sandwich. Just out of the depression and WWII rationing we didn’t waste anything,.

3 months ago
Reply to  KellyR

I thought my mother must punking me all those years. Turns each our mothers went the same school, of thought.

3 months ago
Reply to  Cancelproof

I think everything back then had at least two lives, or more. Even the ashes out of the furnace were kept and put in the trunk of the car during winter to use for traction under the wheels if you got stuck. Newspapers were rolled tightly and burnt like logs in the furnace. Can’t do that with email and texts.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.