Kitchen Tips: DIY Fruit and Vegetable Wash


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Kitchen Tips: DIY Fruit and Vegetable Wash recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

Did you know that most chemicals used on produce won’t be washed off with a simple rinsing under water? While it would be ideal to only purchase organically grown produce, or to grow your own, that isn’t always an option. This solution is a frugal alternative when 100% organic foods are not available. I still use this solution on the organic foods I buy, as it does a much better job of washing than water alone.

The acid in plain white vinegar kills bacteria and helps to dissolve the wax and pesticide residues found on the skins of many fruits and vegetables. As an added bonus, this will help some fruits last longer in addition to making them a healthier option to eat.

I KNOW that this works, because the water is dirty after the produce has soaked and the apples and grapes have a slight white sheen on them from where the shiny wax had been.

DIY Fruit and Vegetable Wash
(printable directions)

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Step 1: Make sure your kitchen sink is clean or place a large mixing bowl in the sink.
Step 2: Add the produce to the sink and cover with cold water. (Don’t overcrowd the sink.)
Step 3: Add 1-2 cups of plain white vinegar and soak for 10-15 minutes.
Step 4: Rinse well.

I’ve used this method for just about every fruit and vegetable we eat. As long as you rinse well, there isn’t a bit of a vinegary taste on the produce. If some of the fruits bob to the top (like the apples) just swirl them around in the water and rub gently with your fingertips for a few moments.

For washing LETTUCES and other GREENS: I only soak greens for a minute or two and then I rinse very well. Be careful to rinse them thoroughly and then spin them or pat them dry. Do not put the lettuces away wet or they won’t last long. I store them in airtight containers lined with paper towels or in ziploc bags with paper towels, with all of the air pressed out.

For washing BERRIES (which tend to be more delicate): I place them in a large mixing bowl and then cover with cold water plus 1 cup of vinegar. I swirl them around a bit with my hands (because they tend to float to the top), letting them soak for 5 minutes or so. Drain the water off of them and rinse well. The vinegar and water solution helps destroy bacteria and mold spores, helping the berries last longer. When they are thoroughly rinsed, spread them out on a clean towel or papertowels and gently pat dry.

If I am washing raspberries or blackberries, I prefer to let them air dry. I’d rather have them slightly wet going into the refrigerator versus mushed from too much pressure attempting to dry them. (You can also spin them in a salad spinner with a few paper towels.) When they are mostly dry, place them in a paper-towel lined airtight container in the refrigerator. My berries tend to last anywhere from one to two weeks on average.

You can also make your own spray solution by combining 3 parts water with one part vinegar. Spray the fruits, let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse well before storing.

Prewashing all my fruits and vegetables makes it easy to throw together Snack Trays for my kids or guests.

Kitchen Tips: DIY Fruit and Vegetable Wash recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

{originally posted 4-3-13 – recipe notes and photos updated 4-26-15}

ONE YEAR AGO: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples
TWO YEARS AGO: How To Organize Your Refrigerator with Produce Boxes
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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Sue/the view from great island says

    This is so good to know, Mary. I recently read that they actually spray-dye many of our oranges because in Florida they don't get enough color before they ripen, and they aren't labeled as such! Sheesh! Who knows what's in and on our food!

  2. EcoCatLady says

    Thanks for this post. I'm always torn between using a vinegar based soak and scrubbing with baking soda. When I'm feeling particularly paranoid, I do both.

    Curiously, while I'm sort of neurotic about washing fruit, with most veggies (especially those that will be cooked) a quick rinse is all the ever get. Perhaps I should revisit that strategy!

  3. Desi says

    Love this! I'm always grossed out by the idea that all these hands are touching fruits and veggies that we then are supposed to just eat, with only a rinse. I need to do this, thanks for the tip!

  4. correnadotme says

    Thank you for this post.I have a questionm maybe you could answer. I wash my veggies and such just in water, but will now do it the way you suggested, I will feel better about it being cleaner, but do you know about celery? What the best way to wash it and then keep it. my celery usually sits in my fridge til I need it, but lately it doesnt last very long at all not like they used to. Maybe you could help, I would appreciate it. Thank you so much. Have a great day.

    • Anonymous says

      Try wrapping the celery in foil when you get it home instead of leaving it in the package, it's supposed to keep up to 6 wks, which is good since after a wk or 2, mine wilts.

  5. Kim Honeycutt says

    I have heard of doing this but haven't tried it. I wet carrots, celery, cucumber, peppers, squash, zucchini… with water and rub well with baking soda and rinse. I feel like I have tried to do something to make them cleaner. I'll try the vinegar sometime. Pinned it!

    • Mary says

      That is my understanding, Carol. I haven't found any well documented links or articles that state that though. It is most definitely more effective than plain water and it works well to remove the coatings that are often on produce from the stores.

  6. adina says

    hi. I first read this post last year I think. I have been using this method of washing fruit and vegetables ever since. It was a bit annoying at the very beginning but I cannot imagine giving it up now. thank you.

  7. Anonymous says

    This is a great way to wash and preserve fruits and veggies. I give all my produce a vinegar and water bath. I add salt to the broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage….. I keep a spray bottle of vinegar and water in the fridge for apples, oranges….. Do you think keeping the vinegar water in the fridge would help or harm the solution?

  8. Anonymous says

    THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH! The HUB came home with 6 packs of strawberries for Mother's Day for me and they are all; soaked with vinegar, rinsed, dried and & in the fridge now using your method. I LOVE, LOVE strawberries and want to make a pie tomorrow. But, first I must make the batter for "Pittsburgh Pancakes" that are out of this world with the strawberries. The recipe can be found at King Arthur Flour if you want the absolute best crispy thin like pancakes in the whole world! But, tonight Abby, our Bichon was allowed to run in the rain and get all dirty with FUN who needs a bath & blow dry after that Anna storm hit her in the Carolinas. I so love life when I can accomplish something after being so sick for the last 11 years. Something has happened, something wonderful, that I cannot explain and I feel like a million dollars today! GOD does answer prayers after all, because I am living proof. Blessed be to all this evening.