Picture of How to Make a Rug from Plastic Grocery Bags
In an effort to be "Green," I started saving my plastic grocery bags so that I could return them in large groups to be recycled. I had gathered quite a few bags, but kept forgetting to take them to be recycled. So I first started using them to make plastic "fabric" as seen in this instructable, Plastic Bag Fabric

I then remembered that people used to make rugs by braiding strips of fabric, and then spiraling the braid outward, but I couldn't find an example of using plastic bags to make a rug. So I decided to make my own.

Just a word to the wise, you'll need 150+ bags to make a similar rug, so don't undertake this project if you've only got a few. Also, if you want multiple colors, you must have bags of different colors, Duh!
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Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials
You will need the following tools and supplies:

  • Plastic Bags (150+)
  • Wax Paper
  • Iron
  • Scissors
  • Straight Pins

Step 2: Gathering Bags

Picture of Gathering Bags
This should be the easiest step. You simply save your plastic bags after you go shopping. If you want a multi-colored rug, you must collect bags of different colors. The easiest way to do this is to shop at different places. Sometimes a store will change the color of their bags, but this is rare.

If you use reusable shopping bags, gathering bags might be quite difficult. If you are really itching to do this project, you could ask your friends and neighbors for bags or you could "borrow" some from the recycling bin at your local grocery store, though I don't condone stealing.

The rug pictured in this isntructable is 33 inches long by 30 inches wide, and contains about 151 bags. Obviously, for a larger rug you need more bags, and for a smaller rug you need fewer bags.
21joelleh5 months ago

How did you tie the reef note? You can only tie them if you have a folded over strip

CraftyTigra2 years ago
My only caution at this point would be to suggest doing this either outside or in a VERY well-ventilated location, since plastic bags release toxic gasses when ironed. Looks great though!
styme2 years ago
small promblem with plastic rugs , once you have it down on doorway entrance , people will slip on it , doesn't matter if you have wet shoes from snow or rain
wisk7783 years ago
Walkerbarb, thanks for the inspiration. I followed these directions and made one of these back in December over Christmas break. It was such fun I decided to make another and maybe learn how to make it by lacing so it would be reversible. ( have the easiest directions i found if you are interested) I just finished this rug today and I'm (hopefully) attaching a picture.
This instructable was very cool beans and inspired me to learn a new skill.
ladytyty3 years ago
you are so clever! thank you for sharing
My grandmother used to make kitchen rugs out of breadbags. She grew up during the depression, so she was the original reuse/reduce/recycle. First she cleaned and dried the bags then cut them in a spiral method so that it main one long continuous strand. Then she crocheted them in a circle using a really large crochet hook (K, I think for those crocheters out there).

She had stacks of them from years of saving up breadbags. They were actually kind of pretty and VERY useful - especially in the kitchen.
GMG! My grandmother did too. Us grand kids used to cut the bags for her when we were "Big enough to be good at scissors."
The only real difference is my grandmother preferred rectangle rugs so they fit better against the counter at the sink.
All of my neighbor ladies had these in their kitchens when I was a kid
cschulz33 years ago
What if you didn't cut through the handles? if you left the handles in tact, you could then use the handles to tie them together such as what is shown on this site:
what if you braided bags that go out from the center, then you wouldnt have to melt the back, i think that would be easier.
On Family Fun's website they have a rug you make using a hula hoop to weave loops cut from T-Shirts ( but I just saw some tiny hula hoops at the dollar store that could probably be used to weave the plastic bags without melting.
walkerbarb (author)  rlnbkseeberger4 years ago
maybe :)
Dnamra4 years ago
Pretty cool project. Does anyone have any idea on how to color the rug so that it will stay clean and not flake off?
Maybe Plasti-Dip in the spray can might work to make these long lasting & easier to clean?
walkerbarb (author)  Dnamra4 years ago
You could try adding textile medium to the paint ... it leaves the paint flexible on fabric... might work, might not... good luck..
myhightide4 years ago
sounds neat
neffk4 years ago
Thanks! I was JUST sitting here thinking I needed a rug for the kitchen, but I'm thin on money right now. But what do I have enough of instead? Plastic bags, because I reuse them for trash bags, lunch bags, etc. Looks like the kitchen's getting a new rug this weekend, yay!
desya5 years ago
 I have been wondering how to do since I first saw it about 10 or so years ago...
walkerbarb (author)  desya5 years ago
Now you can give it a try.. have fun
made this .. out of plarn.... and a knitting loom.....
hanging plant.jpg
jeanga15 years ago
Great project... but what about fusing the strips together with the iron method.. rather than tying a knot?
walkerbarb (author)  jeanga15 years ago
That might work..
One would have to be very careful not to over melt....the least of one's problems being creating "hard"  crusty feeling spots.
static5 years ago
My grandma crocheted rugs from bread bags, and nylon hosiery , back in the 60's. No doubt she would be doing the same with plastic shopping bags today.
haha me and my mom crotchet plastic bag bags (bags made from plastic bags derr ) and its sooo nifty! =]]
walkerbarb (author)  static5 years ago
Your grandma sounds like a woman I would have liked. She was green before it was "cool"......
bacon lover5 years ago
I wonder if you could make a square rug
walkerbarb (author)  bacon lover5 years ago
You might be able to but it will be tricky because the bags just naturally want to curl and twist. In strep #7 I pinned it until I was able to melt the back so you'd have to pin a square shape before you melt.. Good luck..
ok thanks
This is really neat i would have never thought of this. I hope hot embers don't jump from your fireplace onto the rug in the last pic though! XD
n2gpin5 years ago
My grandmother used to make these out of breadwrappers ... 40 years ago. I guess good ideas live on! Great way to keep harmful waste from the landfill -
randofo5 years ago
This reminds me of the Wonderbread Rug they have on display at the American Folk Art Museum. It's basically a large rug woven from strips of wonderbread bag an old lady collected over many years. They found it in her home after she passed. Anyhow... very cool.
This is so sweet. I've been saving up plastic bags for years due to a hoarding complex. Now I know what to do with them.
walkerbarb (author) 5 years ago
Glad you both liked it... it was fun to make...I had all the bags ready to take to the store recycle bins when I decided to make this there are endless possibilities going through my head ... coasters??
mrbob10005 years ago
man, i have hundreds of these around my house and we always recycle them (either by putting them in the bag recycling box at the grocery store or by making things out of them.) i have got to try this!
ChrysN5 years ago
This looks great. It's a shame though, I've been using a reusable grocery bag so I don't have any more plastic bags at home.