We love sensory bags, but it can be frustrating when they start to leak after a very short amount of time. If you’ve encountered the same problem, read this article to find out how we prep our sensory bags in order to make them last for weeks—or even months!
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From the moment I discovered sensory bags, I was hooked. They looked so easy to make and so fun to play with! So I immediately took out a freezer bag and filled it with baby oil, water, food colouring and glitter before sealing it up.
I spent the next little while running my fingers over it every time I walked past the dining table. There was something soothing about spreading the coloured water around, watching little bubbles separate and then join up again. I suspect I was having more fun than my kids were.
Unfortunately, the fun was short-lived. Within less than half an hour, I started to notice little pools of baby oil forming everywhere that the bag was placed. I checked the bag for holes and noticed that it was leaking at the seams. So I transferred the contents into a new bag and placed it on the table for my kids to play with.
That one broke even faster.
What Didn’t Work
Over the next few days, I spent some time trying to secure the freezer bags every way I could think of.
I tried placing one bag inside another, but both bags very quickly started leaking.
I tried taping up the seams with clear packing tape, but as soon as the baby oil came into contact with the tape, the tape stopped sticking and the bag started leaking again.
I tried ironing the edges of the bag to prevent the seams from tearing, but the result was so hideous that I abandoned the idea pretty quickly.
Why Secure Sensory Bags?
The thing about me is that I’m very stubborn, and when I encounter a problem, I tend to obsess over it until I’ve found a solution.
Sensory bags are such a great way to let younger kids safely explore new textures, and you can customize them almost any way you can think of! So I wasn’t going to give up on them just because a few of my freezer bags were leaking at the seams.
I’m also not a big fan of single-use, so I didn’t want to accept that sensory bags might be the sort of thing that we only played with for a few minutes or hours before discarding them. As a general rule, if I spend any amount of time making something, I feel like that time was wasted if it can only be played with once.
If you love sensory bags too, but you hate the fact that they often leak and need to be thrown out after a single use, this article could be exactly the answer you’re looking for!
About This Method
It took a while to get the smell of baby oil out of our kitchen, but I did eventually figure out a way to prevent the bags from leaking.
Now, I’d like to be perfectly clear: I’m not saying that if you use this method, the bags will not leak after any amount of time. They will probably start leaking eventually, especially if they get used a lot, so you will still need to supervise your kids while they play with them. You wouldn’t want your little ones accidentally ingesting baby oil, hair gel or any other liquid you might have put in the bag!
(Tip: I recommend trimming your child’s nails to prevent them from poking holes in the plastic.)
What I will say is that thanks to this method, most of our sensory bags have lasted us several months without leaking. This has been the case even for bags filled with water and baby oil, which I have found to be the combination that starts leaking the fastest.
And they do get used a lot, because my two- and three-year-old both love to play with them, toss them around, step on them, and generally be very rough with them despite being asked repeatedly to play more gently so as not to break them!
How to Prep Your Sensory Bag
Here’s what you’ll need to secure your sensory bags for long-term use:
- 2 gallon-sized freezer bags (we buy ours at Costco when they go on sale)
- Gorilla Tape
If you wish to remove the logo from the bags, you will also need:
- Baby oil (I find Walmart and the dollar store to be the most cost-effective)
- Facial tissue
Note: We use this method primarily to secure bags that are filled with liquid. You can also use it for non-liquid fillers , but it’s not really necessary unless the items you’re using are tiny and you’re scared your child might choke on them if they spill out. If that’s the case, you can prepare the bag the same way, though you’d probably be fine with just one bag and/or a single layer of tape.
1. Remove Logo (Optional)
Removing the logo is completely optional, but I like to do it because I don’t like staring at logos.
If you wish to remove it too, start by pouring a few drops of baby oil right onto the logo of the first bag and working it in with your fingers until the white ink starts coming off, like so:
Once you get to this point, finish rubbing off the logo using a tissue, making sure the focus on the outer edges of the logo, which will be the hardest to remove.
Repeat the same process with the other bag and you will have two logo-free bags!
2. Cut Off Excess Plastic
Next, unzip the bags, then cut off the excess plastic above the zipper.
This will help the bags fit into each other and will keep the excess out of the way when you seal the top of your sensory bag.
Note: The reason I recommend opening the bags first is that once you cut off the excess, they can be more difficult to open since there is a lot less to hold on.to.
3. Place One Bag Inside the Other
Once you’ve opened the bags and cut off the excess plastic, place one bag inside the other, leaving both bags open.
4. Tape Seams
Now comes the part where we start taping the bag shut. I always start with the bottom of the bag, placing my tape underneath so I can get a better view of the amount of tape covering the bag.
As much as possible, you’re going to want to place the seam of your bag along the middle of the tape so that the amount of tape at the front and back is even. This is one of the reasons why I usually prepare these bags in advance and fill them later—it’s very difficult to get an accurate idea of where to place the tape if the bag is filled.
5. Cut Off Excess
Once your tape is properly positioned, fold it over onto the top of the bag. Then, cut off the excess tape on both ends.
Note: Try to cut as close to the edge of the bag as you reasonably can while also making sure you don’t cut into the bag.
6. Repeat Steps
Repeat the taping process on both sides of the bag and cut off the excess tape.
7. Reinforce Tape
Next, you’ll be adding a second layer of tape. I usually start with the sides and end with the bottom, working in the opposite order from the first layer, to make it harder for the liquid to escape.
Once you’re done, just cut off the excess tape, and your bag is now ready to be filled! I like to prepare several bags in advance so the kids and I can focus on filling them together.
Filling Sensory Bags
When you do fill the bag, make sure that you’re actually filling the inside bag and not pouring liquid in between the two bags. I’ve had to clean out hair gel from in between the bags more than once, and trust me when I say that it’s not something you want to be doing.
Once the bag is filled, remove the excess air from both bags before zipping them shut. Then, seal that edge shut with two layers of Gorilla tape, working the same way you were doing when taping the other sides shut. I find that the zippered side tends to leak less than the others because the zipper doesn’t tear the way the seams do.
I hope using this technique will allow you and your kids to make sensory bags that last! There are countless possibilities, but we especially love filling them with hair gel, water beads, and water and oil.
As you can see, some of our bags are starting to look a little worse for wear—but they still haven’t sprung a leak!
Related Sensory Bag Articles
Love sensory bags too? Check out some of the projects you can do once you’ve prepped your bags using the above method:
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15 thoughts on “How to Prep Sensory Bags to Make Them Last!”
How do you stop the inner bag from moving?
We haven’t really had any issues with that since we usually lay the bags flat on the ground when playing with them, and squishing the contents of the bag around typically keeps it where it’s supposed to be. If needed, I just put it back in place before play. But if you’re really concerned about it moving, perhaps you could use some double-sided tape on one side, or maybe some clear packing tape that has been rolled up to stick on both sides?
Have you ever used the newly-available reusable food storage bags? The heavy ones which are meant to be washed and reused? The material is not crystal-clear, so you wouldn’t want to use them for things where being able to see inside clearly is an issue. But I am wondering about how leakproof they might be, or leak-proofable, for bags that are meant to be mostly tactile.
I’ve never used them, so I couldn’t say for sure. Based on what I know, I would imagine it depends on what you’re planning on putting in them. They would probably be totally fine for non-liquid fillers, but I would be a bit concerned about putting liquids in them in case the slider at the top comes apart slightly and lets the liquid leak out. Personally, I’d rather know that my sensory bags are double-taped just for my own peace of mind. But you can definitely give it a shot as long as you’re closely supervising!
Have you use the food saver system with the much heavier plastic bags?
I haven’t tried that, but I’m sure it would work great since those bags are much sturdier and less likely to come apart at the seams! You probably wouldn’t even need to prep them with tape.
What do you use for colors?
Do you mean for the tape or what you put inside the bags? If you want the tape to be colourful, I’ve seen various colours of tape on Amazon. If you want the liquid inside the bags to be coloured, you can use either food colouring or liquid watercolours!
I followed the steps and the inner bag shifted and leaked! What am I doing wrong? How can I make sure the inner bag is secure and leak resistant?!?
The inner bag will sometimes leak since it’s not sealed with Gorilla Tape, but it shouldn’t be an issue since the outer bag IS sealed and the contents of the bag won’t be able to leak out onto your floors (which is the issue I was having before I started prepping the bags this way). The texture should still be fun to play with even if a tiny bit leaks out into the outer bag.
If it was only a small leak and the bag is still fun to play with, I wouldn’t worry about it—though I suppose you could try sealing the inner bag with Gorilla Tape as well if you can make it fit into the outer one. What did you put inside? Some sensory bag fillers seem to leak no matter what, especially baby oil and water. But as long as your bags are properly prepped, you shouldn’t have to worry about them getting into your little one’s mouth or onto your floors!
Will clear Gorilla tape work as well?
I’ve actually never used clear Gorilla tape, so I’m not sure! If is has a similar texture to black Gorilla tape, it may. But if it’s more like clear packing tape, it probably won’t—I tried using clear packing tape and it came off as soon as it came into contact with liquid. If you try it, I’d love it if you could let me know how it turned out!
Another VERY simple way to get the logo off the bag, and ink off clothes too – I might add, is Rubbing Alcohol.
Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll try that next time! Rubbing alcohol is also great for removing permanent marker!
Thank you for the alcohol tip! Worked like magic!