Standard Grocery Bag Sizes and Guidelines

A regular part of any business or shop is grocery bags. After all, if your customers want to walk out of your store with their purchases, they probably need something to place them in. So, if you need to stock up on grocery bags for your business, you should probably familiarize yourself with their sizes.

A standard brown paper grocery bag will measure 17 inches tall, 12 inches wide, and about 7 inches deep when full. Shoppers can fill a brown paper grocery bag with up to 75 pounds of groceries.

However, there’s still quite a lot we can learn about grocery bags. For the remainder of this article, I will cover their various sizes and holding capacities, what you can do with spare grocery bags, and much more.

Common Grocery Bag Sizes

If you’ve ever shopped at a grocery store, you’re probably aware that grocery bags come in all sorts of sizes. That way, the store doesn’t have to use extremely large grocery bags for small purchases. Instead, you can use the right bag size depending on how many items you bought and how large they are.

Below, I’ll provide a table that details the dimensions of grocery bags. Please note that the dimensions may vary from place to place as they may source them from different supplies.

Length (in.) Depth (in.) Height (in.
3.75 2.25 11.5
4.5 2.5 16
3 1.875 5.875
3.5 2.375 6.875
4.75 2.875 8.5
5 3.25 9.75
5.25 3.5 10.875
6 3.5 11
6.125 4 12.375
7.125 4.5 13.75
7.75 4.75 16
8.25 5.5 16.125
8.25 5.25 18
8.25 5.875 13.375
8.25 6.125 15.875
12 7 17
12 7 21.75
17 6 29

Types of Grocery Bags

Brown paper bags aren’t the only kind of bag you can get at grocery stores. Below, I’ll cover some of the most commonly used bag types to help you understand what each has to offer.

Kraft Bag

Kraft Bags

Kraft bags are the brown paper bags we’re all familiar with. These bags consist of around 40% recycled materials. Compared to plastic bags, Kraft bags are considered the safer alternative to plastic, though that might not be the case.

There’s a lot we can learn about the harms of Kraft bags on the environment, but to sum it up, it takes time and money to recycle these bags, which is why most of them end up in landfills.

Thank-You Bag

Thank you bag t shirt bag

The thank-you bag, also referred to as the t-shirt bag, is the typical plastic bag. They are made of high-density polyethylene, which is super-thin, super-inexpensive, and has become less in demand as of late.

Unlike paper bags, plastic bags take hundreds of years to decompose. All the while, they may release trace amounts of chemicals into the soil. So, if possible, customers and store owners should refrain from using thank-you bags whenever possible.

Thank-you bags come in a variety of sizes. The standard size for grocery stores is usually 12 × 7 × 23 inches when full. However, you can get them in much smaller and much larger sizes, as well.

Reusable Bag

Reusable Bags

Reusable bags are the safest alternative for the planet. Because they are made of fabric or woven fibers, you can use them for months or even years before they begin to fall apart. This is why an increasing number of stores have begun selling reusable bags to their customers.

The only downside of reusable bags is their cost. They are significantly more expensive per bag than paper or plastic, and as such, stores will have to actively promote reusable bags. However, if your end goal is to preserve the environment, then the benefits far outweigh the costs.

The precise measurements of a reusable bag will vary from supplier to supplier. However, reusable bags sold at grocery stores will typically measure 13 × 6 × 15 inches. So, if you plan on doing your monthly grocery shopping, make sure you take several reusable bags with you from home.

How Much Can a Grocery Bag Hold?

Depending on how much you buy at a grocery store, the cashier may provide you with small, medium, large, or even extra-large grocery bags for your purchases. Apart from their dimensions and volume, each bag has a specific weight rating.

The weight rating may vary from bag supplier to bag supplier. However, while researching, I’ve discovered that specific Kraft bag sizes also have specific weight rating averages. I’ll show them to you below.

Kraft Bag Size Size Range (in.) Max Weight Rating (lbs.)
Small 3.75 × 2.75 × 11.5


4.75 × 2.875 × 8.5

Medium 5 × 3.25 × 9.75


8.25 × 6.125 × 18

Large 12 × 7 × 17 40
Extra-Large 17 × 6 × 29 and beyond 75

That said, you should know that the volume of the bag’s contents will also play a role in determining whether or not the bag will rip. The figures above describe how much weight in canned foods each bag can hold before the bag will rip when lifted from the top.

How to Reuse Grocery Bags

How to Reuse Grocery Bags

While grocery bags may not be good for the environment, you can reduce their long-lasting effects on the world by reusing them. Here are several creative ways you can find new life in old grocery bags.

Compost—tear the paper bag to shreds, then toss them in a moist area in your backyard garden.

Recycling container—even though the bag itself may be difficult to recycle, you can use it to hold onto other recyclable materials, like glass, aluminum cans, and paper.

Book covers—to preserve the cover of your hardcover books, cut the paper bag to size and use scotch tape to keep the edges and corners in place.

Travel bags—if you need to pack more things into your car while moving homes or traveling, just fill paper bags with things like clothes and art supplies.

De-weeder—use uncolored paper bags to kill weeds in your garden by covering the bag in compost or mulch before planting crops.

Placemats —simply cut the paper bag the size of a placemat (around 12 × 18 inches) to stop your kids from dirtying your beautiful tablecloth during meals.