I remember when my grandparents had a garden when I was growing in Massachusetts. We had so much fruit and veggies. The fruit and veggies tasted so good, juicy and untouched from chemicals. Now these days, there is so much stuff on it that you have to wash your produce every time you purchase them even organic.
I know there is products out there just to make life easier but for $10, I rather make my own under $5 and make a few bottles instead of one.
Let’s talk about the best ways to wash produce!
Choose 1 Of These Ways To Wash Produce
Option 1: Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Salt and Water
Vinegar is one ingredient you will most likely find in any recipe for fruit and vegetable wash. The key however, is to use a high enough concentration of vinegar for it to be an effective cleaner (the consensus is that a 3:1 mix is perfect). It’s a known disinfectant! Plus it helps get rid of household bacteria such as salmonella.
Adding lemon to your vinegar adds an extra boost of acidity. Many pathogens can’t remain active in the citric acid that lemon juice provides (making the juice antibacterial) … that’s why so many diy cleaners have lemon juice mixed in!
Salt is just the last antibacterial component to make this homemade produce wash extra-effective. I’m not science buff … but from what I have read, salt also acts a preservative and has the possibility of making your washed fruits and veggies last longer.
To use your homemade produce wash, mix the following ingredients (the vinegar will help to melt the salt) and pour them into your spray bottle.
- 1 Cup Water
- 1/3 Cup Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. Table Salt
- 3 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
Once the mixture is ready, you can use it to spray fruit and vegetables that have a hard skin: apples, cucumbers, pears, etc. Let the spray sit on your produce for about two minutes before rubbing and rinsing. For harder to clean vegetables that have more nooks and crannies (think lettuces, broccoli, etc) you’ll need to rock a soak! Use approximately 1 tablespoon of white vinegar per 1 gallon of very cold water. Soak your produce for 15 minutes, swish and swirl, then rinse with clean water. Drain, dry, and store as usual. You can also use Apple Cider Vinegar if you don’t have white vinegar.
Option 2: Hydride Peroxide and Water
Hydrogen peroxide is nature’s bleach. It whitens and brightens many things — such as your teeth, your hair, your tile grout, or your husband’s yellow armpit stains on his undershirts!
The food-grade 3% solution sold at every grocery store, drug store, and dollar store is non-toxic.
This option is my preferred method for washing our produce, as peroxide is effective at killing many harmful microbes, including E. coli!
Fill your sink or bucket — whichever is easiest for you — with cold water. The colder, the better. Add about 1 tablespoon of peroxide per 1 gallon of water. In my sink, I use about a 1/4 cup.
If you have a double-sided sink, fill the other side up with fresh, cold water. If you don’t have a double-sided sink, that’s all right too.
Add your produce to the hydrogen peroxide + water mixture, and immerse it completely. Swirl it around, turn it over, splash it around a bit. Remove any store stickers, browned or soft leaves, and moldy, soft berries immediately.
After 10 minutes or so, transfer everything to the clean water. Let it soak, again swirling and swishing it around to thoroughly rinse everything. If you don’t have a double-sided sink, just drain the peroxide mix and refill with fresh, cold water.
After rinsing, transfer the produce to a clean, dry towel and let it air dry.
Store as you normally would, either in a bowl on the counter, in your pantry, or in your refrigerator. I find that the hydrogen peroxide kills pathogens, bacteria, and mold very well. My produce still lasts a long time.
Option 3: Baking Soda and Water
One 2017 study that ran in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that baking soda neutralized certain pesticides better than bleach.
(This is really good news. Unlike bleach baking soda is not toxic. So you don’t have to use a toxin to remove other toxins.)
Researchers found that soaking apples in baking soda for 12 minutes was highly effective in removing thiabendazole, a commonly used fungicide.
After 15 minutes, a baking soda soak effectively neutralized a pesticide called phosmet.
If you try this at home, this would mean soaking produce in a baking soda and water solution. Then rinsing this solution off well before eating.
To use your homemade produce wash, mix the following ingredients in your sink or large bowl. To make this in the spray bottle, you can make adjustments on this (16 oz. bottle of water + 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda)
- 2 cups of cold water
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
Other Tips And Tidbits
Invest in a salad spinner. A salad spinner is such a time-saver when drying leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale. I got mine from Big Lots, and it’s still going strong. If your family eats a lot of leafy veggies, this is a worthy investment.
Soft bristled brush, This will help clean the fruit and veggies after they have been soaking. You want soft bristled brush or you can brush your produce and cause molding faster.
Wash it “Seven Times” cleaning method. I recommend washing spinach, kale, and other leafy greens in a few times. Wash the veggies seven times but you also have to change the water each time, before considered clean! That’s how dirty produce could be from almost a hundred years ago, before pesticides!
Separate moldy or bruised produce. Keep all bruised produce away from your other produce, even after washing, and use it first in smoothies, casseroles, or for juicing. Throw away any moldy produce as soon as you get it home from the store or market. Your other produce will last much longer. Have you ever had a lemon grown blue-green mold on the skin, even when stored in the refrigerator? Not one of my lemons has spoiled that way since I started soaking and washing with the above methods!
Wash first. If your family goes through a lot of produce each week like mine, I highly recommend washing all of it as soon as you get it home from the store. Make it your routine to take 20 to 30 minutes after getting home from the store, and prep all of your produce.
Soak all of your produce! Even if you plan to peel it later (carrots, potatoes, parsnips, even bananas!), I recommend you wash all of your produce. These soaking solutions really do keep produce fresh for longer.
Soak for 15 minutes and rinse well before eating. Proportions can be adjusted based if you are going to eat the fruit or vegetables on the same day you purchased them.
Use cold water. For all three options, your soaking and rinsing water should be as cold as possible. This keeps the produce very crisp and fresh.
My top requirement for this project was to find a glass spray bottle. If you use plastic, you need to dump and wash the bottle every time you use it. It will stain the bottle, mold will grow if not being used periodically and strange smell. A glass bottle would be FANTASTIC! Its hard to fine them stores and I bought mine on Amazon HERE. The benefit is that they’re glass (which is safer than plastic and will last longer),
So far, the only produce I haven’t soaked and rinsed are onions and garlic. I’m not sure how the thin skins would react to being drenched with water. I do spray them with the solution, brush them and rinse them in cold water.
No matter what option you use, it will help you get rid of those nasty chemicals on your fruit and vegetables.
Let me know if you try any of these in the comment below.