A homemade fruit and vegetable wash costs just pennies to make. It’s also an important step in food safety! Washing fruits and vegetables isn’t just about removing obvious dirt. Produce often harbors bacteria, bugs and their eggs, and other substances not readily visible to the naked eye. (Hey, did you see that lady squeezing the tomatoes? The one who’d just wiped her nose? Yeah. Ugh.)
Even melons should be washed when you bring them home unless you fancy the thought of dragging any pesticides and bacteria through your fruit as you slice it. Produce that you peel, like bananas, don’t even get a pass. Think about all the times you grabbed a banana then touched other food without thinking about all the nasty things on it.
So how do you wash produce? Well, you could buy some of that expensive spray at the grocery store — or you can make your own produce wash from one of these homemade mixes below.
Homemade Fruit And Vegetable Wash
Soft-skinned Fruit and Vegetable Wash
Fill a clean sink or bowl with equal parts water and white vinegar. Soak produce for 2 minutes then rub well with hands. Pay extra attention to the areas around the stem and blossom end where insects like to lay their eggs. Rinse well. Dry well. If storing for future use, see Tips below.
Hard-Skinned Fruit and Vegetable Wash
Fill a clean sink or bowl with 1 quart water then stir in 2 tbsp. baking soda until fully dissolved. Add the fruit then carefully pour in 1/4 cup white vinegar. The combination of baking soda and vinegar will foam, and that foaming process will lift away grime and residues. Allow the produce to sit in this solution for 2 minutes then use a vegetable brush to scrub the rinds, rinse well, and dry. If storing for future use, see Tips below.
Leafy Greens and Skinless Produce
Lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and other produce that doesn’t get peeled before eating needs a different kind of homemade fruit and vegetable wash. The salt in this one kills any bugs that might be hiding in there (and if you’ve eaten artichokes straight from the garden you know what I mean).
Fill a clean, deep sink with 1 gallon cold water then add 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup table salt. Swirl to combine. Soak produce in this mix for 15-20 minutes then drain and rinse repeatedly using cool water. If storing for future use, see Tips below.
• Melons should be washed as soon as they’re brought home from the store to prevent them from contaminating your countertops.
• Store washed, uncut and unpeeled produce at the same temperature you found it at the store. In other words, if it was in the middle of the produce section it’s best stored on countertops, while items on chilled shelves should be stored in the refrigerator.
• Make sure produce is completely dry before refrigerating since excess moisture leads to mold and rotting.
• For longer-term storage see this master list on how to store produce properly to keep it fresh.