Complete Guide To Safely & Properly Clean Fresh Produce

Whether you buy organic or conventional produce, it’s essential that your fresh food is properly washed. From pre-made veggie washes, lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda, or plain water – what’s the best way to safely and properly clean your fresh fruits & veggies?

Keep reading for cleaning best practices & the most effective cleaning solution. Clean fresh produce efficiently & safely!

Properly Clean Fresh Produce

(Note: This article contains affiliate links, meaning In On Around will make a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps me maintain the site. As always, I value full transparency & only work with brands I love and trust.)

Why Is It Important To Properly Clean Your Produce?

Washing your fresh fruits and vegetables is essential.

It can help

  1. Remove physical contaminants like dirt, sand, soil
  2. Remove external pesticide residue
  3. Reduce the number of pathogens like bacteria and parasites
  4. Unlodge any critters/bugs lurking inside
  5. Can help produce last longer (yay for less food waste)

Just think about how many people & surfaces need to touch your food before it reaches your plate… from farmers, to grocery workers, shoppers, and more. You’ll definitely want to clean fresh produce before eating it.

Always wash your produce before eating it!

How To Properly Clean Fresh Produce

Before even beginning the process, wash your hands for 20+ seconds with soap & warm water… a couple second rinse will not cut it! Only use freshly cleaned countertops, cutting boards, and utensils as well. Branch Basics is a great brand to ensure your hands and environment are clean.

A 2017 study has shown that soaking produce in baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a great way to remove pesticide residue on the surface (even more so than with bleach). [1] White vinegar can also help to reduce bacterial contamination, according to Colorado State University. Since water alone can remove about 98% of bacteria on the surface, it’s essential to rinse all fruits & vegetables before use. The baking soda & vinegar can help to dislodge dirt & debris, but using baking soda and vinegar together can neutralize the acid & base.

Clean water can remove ~98% of surface bacteria.

It’s always best to avoid any toxic cleaning methods – these can do more harm than good! Plus, many pre-made veggies washes have not been tested for safety.

Best Practices For Clean Produce

  • Scrub, scrub, scrub with a vegetable brush, especially if it’s a root vegetable
  • Invest in a salad spinner to remove any excess moisture before storing
  • Cut off any moldy parts (at least an inch surrounding them)
  • Buy local and organic, or grow it yourself – this will help reduce the chance of contamination.
    • You can learn more about the health benefits of eating locally: here.
  • Use fresh, cold water to keep produce crisp (like for lettuce)
  • Use a clean bowl instead of your sink – the drain can be a nasty hiding spot for microbes
  • Steer clear from any toxic washes or rinses, including bleach. Produce is porous and it can absorb these added chemicals.
  • It’s best to wash produce right before use (adding water/moisture in advance can speed up food decay & pathogen growth)
  • Make sure you wash the fruit or vegetable thoroughly before cutting into it. If there are bacteria on the outer surface, cutting into it can transfer that nastiness into the center.
  • Leave the produce whole until use (don’t cut up fruit/veggies in advance)
  • Dry all produce thoroughly with a clean paper towel or a fresh rag
  • There’s no need to wash produce like garlic or onions, whose skin is usually peeled away.

The Best DIY Fruit & Vegetable Wash

To make your produce wash, you will need the following:

  1. One cup of distilled white vinegar OR one teaspoon of baking soda
  2. Two cups of fresh, filtered water

Soak produce in a baking soda or vinegar, and water bath for 15 minutes, then rinse & scrub with freshwater (like with AquaTru).

While cleaning will never ensure that the produce is 100% safe from any harmful microbes (this depends on how the food was grown), it can certainly help to keep your family safe.

Cheers to clean food! Save this photo on Pinterest for future reference:

How To Properly Clean Fresh Produce

Cleaning Fruit + Vegetables – Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the below FAQs to learn more about how to safely and properly clean fresh produce!

What's the best way to clean vegetables?

Produce Wash

The best way to clean vegetables is by soaking produce in baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to remove pesticide residue on the surface (even more so than with bleach). White vinegar can also help to reduce bacterial contamination.

Why is it important to clean produce?

Produce Wash

Cleaning your fresh fruits and vegetables is so important to prevent foodborne illness. Produce can harvest bacteria, bugs, dirt, sand etc… after harvest.

How to make a DIY fruit and veggie wash?

Produce Wash

Make a fruit and vegetable wash using one cup of white vinegar, one teaspoon of baking soda, and two cups of filtered water. Soak your produce in this mixture and agitate to remove dirt.

How to clean root vegetables?

Produce Wash

To clean root vegetables, like potatoes, it’s essential to scrub them with a scrub brush. This will help to remove external dirt and grime.

How do you wash your produce?

Let me know in the comments below! You can watch our web story here.


Want to read more? Check out my other articles here!

Information from Dallas News, Branch Basics, Modern Farmer, USDA

Copyright In On Around LLC 2021 © The statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration). They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information provided by this website should not be used as individual medical advice and you should always consult your doctor for individual recommendations and treatment.

About Catherine Power

Catherine Power is the Founder and CEO of In On Around. She is a Harvard-educated Ingredient Safety and Environmental Toxins expert. Catherine has a background in Food Science, Personal Care Quality, and Regulatory Compliance.

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