Are you REALLY cleaning your fruits and veggies?

We all know we’re supposed to clean our produce before we eat it. But, does a quick rinse in the sink really qualify as “cleaning”?

The answer is no.

First, rinsing under cold water for a few seconds isn’t going to kill the germs left on your produce from all the pairs of hands that touched it before it got to your house. Yuck!

Rinsing under cold water also doesn’t rid your produce of the toxic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and ripening agents that our food is farmed with. Double yuck!

So, what should we be doing?

There are plenty of great (and not so great) brands out there that make fruit and veggie washes for purchase. But, if you want to save a little money (and reduce a little plastic waste), there are a few options that you can make yourself at home with some pretty basic ingredients!

If you search for fruit and veggie washes online, you’ll find tons of different recipes and proportions. These are a few of my favorites, though, for the different types of produce you might be buying.

First, let’s start with a simple vinegar soak.

This method is ideal for softer fruits and some vegetables that you eat the skin of. I prefer this option for berries, in particular.


  • Water
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Lemon (optional)

The amounts you’ll need will depend on how much produce you’re looking to wash, but generally you want 4 parts water to 1 part vinegar. Combine those two together and add some lemon juice if desired. Add the mixture to a large bowl with the produce – you should have enough to cover the produce completely.

Allow the mixture to sit for at least 10 minutes, then drain and rinse. You can leave it soaking for much longer if desired (I’ve left it for up to an hour before!) and it won’t affect the flavor of the produce at all. After rinsing, allow the produce to air dry before storing in the refrigerator.

If you’re working with leafy greens, another type of vinegar soak might be better.


  • Water
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Salt

The secret ingredient of salt in this mixture helps to pull out dirt and other nasties that are difficult to get off of things like broccoli, kale, and lettuce.

As with the first recipe, you’ll want to combine 4 parts water to 1 part vinegar. Add the greens and solution to a bowl, and make sure you have enough liquid to cover the veggies. Next, add 1 tablespoon of salt for every cup of vinegar used.

Allow the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes. Depending on what type of veggie this is, you don’t want to leave it sitting for too long to prevent wilting. Drain and rinse the produce, and either allow to air dry or use a salad spinner to dry out. This method is best done just before you’ll be using the greens.

Lastly, if you’re working with hardier produce, a fruit and veggie scrub may be the best approach.

I prefer this option for produce that may require scrubbing and that you would eat the skins of. Think potatoes, apples, and squash.


  • Water
  • Baking soda
  • Lemon (optional)

You will need a spray bottle for this approach! Start by combining 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and 1 tablespoon of lemon. The lemon is not necessary, but it will give the spray a nice, foamy consistency if added. Increase amounts as needed.

Gently shake the spray bottle to combine ingredients and spray your produce. (Hint: It’s easiest if you have them placed in a colander prior to spraying.) Allow the produce to soak for about 5 minutes, then rinse. If you have a vegetable brush, scrub before rinsing to get off any excess dirt or wax.

Note: For produce that you will not be eating the skin of but will be cutting into, like an avocado, it’s still important to give a thorough wash. Germs and bacteria from the skin of the produce can be transferred as the knife cuts through the skin.

There you have it – 3 easy methods for cleaning your produce with common household ingredients! I know that plenty of people have their own full-proof methods or strategies, like adding essential oils or other fun ingredients, so feel free to comment below with more ideas!

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