Homemade Fruit and Vegetable Wash

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Washing fruits and vegetables is not just about removing dirt. Produce often harbors bacteria, bugs and their eggs, and other residues. Use this homemade fruit and vegetable to get your produce clean for pennies.

Homemade Fruit And Vegetable Wash

So how do you wash produce? Well, you could buy some of that expensive spray at the grocery store — or you can make produce wash from one of these homemade mixes below.

What Fruits or Vegetables to Wash

The short answer is that you should wash everything, even melons or other things you’ll peel before eating.

It may seem like an unnecessary step at first. But think about how you slice a melon with a knife before eating it. That knife goes through fecal matter or other contaminants on the melon’s rind and drags those things directly on the fruit you’ll be eating.

The same goes for bananas or oranges. Sure, you’ll remove the peel before eating them, but unless you pause to wash your hands you’re likely to cross-contaminate the fruit with whatever was on the peel.

Tips on Washing and Storing Produce

Most produce should be washed immediately before use, not when you first bring it home. Washing things right away leads to too much humidity when you store them in the crisper drawer, so your fruits and vegetables will go bad too quickly.

There are two exceptions to this:

  • Melons or other produce that you store on the countertop should be washed immediately after you bring them home, then thoroughly dried. This prevents cross-contamination between whatever’s on the food’s exterior and your food preparation surfaces.
  • Berries benefit from being washed right away, prior to storage, if you do it properly. This homemade berry wash kills the mold spores which cause berries to get fuzzy and can help them stay fresh in your refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Since refrigerated fruits and vegetables are stored unwashed, you should clean your crisper drawers with a disinfecting wipe weekly. Lining them with a paper towel afterward will help control moisture in the drawer to keep your food fresh longer, too.

For longer-term storage, see these tips on how to save produce without canning.

Homemade Fruit and Vegetable Wash


  • 2 cups cool water
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar


  1. Combine the water and baking soda in a large bowl or clean sink. Stir until the baking soda is completely dissolved.
  2. Arrange your fruit or vegetable in a layer on the bottom of the bowl or sink.
  3. Pour the vinegar over the produce. It will foam as the baking soda and vinegar interact. (This is why using a large bowl is important.) The foam helps lift away residues and grime.
  4. Wait 5 minutes for the foaming to subside and then use a soft-bristled vegetable brush to clean away any dirt. Pay special attention to the stem and blossom ends as well as crevices.
  5. Rinse with fresh water. If you are washing prior to storage, make sure everything is completely dry to avoid mold.

Lettuce and Leafy Green Vegetable Wash

The salt and vinegar in this mixture kill insects and their eggs while also helping the water clean away any dirt or other residues.

Using this vegetable wash also helps lettuce last longer, so you can make salads ahead of time. (See these tips for how to make salads that last all week.)


  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup salt (table, sea, or Kosher)


Combine all ingredients in a clean sink or large bowl. Swirl until the salt is dissolved.

Soak leafy greens or lettuces in this mix for 10 minutes then swirl them around, drain, and rinse repeatedly using cool water.

Use a clean towel, paper towels, or a salad spinner to remove all moisture from the lettuce or leafy greens. This keeps them crisp and stops your salad dressing from sliding off.

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  1. Katie Berry says:

    Sure! Soft-skinned fruit or vegetables have skins you can easily pierce with your fingernail: apples, berries, cucumbers, zucchini. Hard-skinned fruits and vegetables require a knife or peeling: oranges, melons, butternut squash. Hope that helps!

  2. Madeleine says:

    Katie, I just found your blog and I’ve spent the whole day reading it! I am a recent college grad and just moved to a new area. Your ideas are helping me figure out how to make a home!

    After reading this I want to buy a veggie scrub brush. Any tips on what to look for?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Congratulations on graduating, Madeleine! The only things I really look for when buying a veggie scrub brush are bristles that are soft enough that they won’t gouge things like zucchini (courgette) but strong enough they can get carrots clean. I prefer square or oval brushes to those with long handles — they just seem easier to grip. Oh, and make sure they can go in the top rack of the dishwasher so you can get them really clean.

  3. Katie Berry says:

    I don’t think that’s a silly question at all, Samantha. Since you won’t be eating the peel (which means using dish soap isn’t going to affect the taste), I’d treat them as a hard-skinned fruit for the purposes of washing them.

  4. Are you reading my mind??? I asked this question yesterday (to myself), as I was washing a cucumber with antibacterial soap. Does that get a “Yikes!??”

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Yes, I believe that would qualify as “Yikes!” worthy. 😉