DIY Natural Fruit and Veggie Wash to Remove Dirt, Bacteria and Pesticides

Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are natural disinfectants and sanitizing agents, and they can be used as a natural fruit and veggie wash to remove dirt, bacteria and even some pesticides from your fresh produce.

Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are natural disinfectants and sanitizing agents, and they can be used as a natural fruit and veggie wash to remove dirt, bacteria and even some pesticides from your fresh produce.

Some Produce Is Worse Than Others

Every year, the Environmental Working Group releases an updated list of the 12 most pesticide-laden produce, the Dirty Dozen, and the 15 top low pesticide produce, the Clean Fifteen. In all, it's best to spring for organic versions of the 12 worst offenders, but the clean 15 fruits and vegetables don't have to be purchased organic because they're much less often treated with pesticides, if at all. Hooray avocados! This is great news for all those avocado toast lovers out there.

EWG Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

It's best to wash all of your produce regardless of its pesticide condition because there can be all sorts of dirt and bacteria still present.

According to the CDC in 2013,

Each year, over 9 million foodborne illnesses are estimated to be caused by major pathogens acquired in the United States. We attributed 46% of [those] illnesses to produce, and [we determined] that efforts are particularly needed to prevent contamination of produce.

The truth is, we need to take certain steps to increase the safety of the produce we're feeding our families, and here's how we do that.

Steps to Clean Fruits and Vegetables

Buy Organic When Possible (and especially when  necessary)

Avoid the Dirty Dozen conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, and buy them organic instead.

Wash All Produce

A quick white vinegar spray, soak and rinse will work wonders in removing dirt and pathogens like E. Coli, Listeria and Salmonella from produce, including organics. Just spray thoroughly, let sit for 10 minutes, and wipe or scrub gently during the rinse. {See How Do Pathogens Get Into Produce?}

Make Your Own Natural Fruit and Veggie Wash

It's possible to remove at least some pesticides by using hydrogen peroxide in addition to white vinegar, so to me, it's totally worth it. There are two super simple ways to go about it:

  1. Keep two separate spray bottles, one filled with vinegar and the other filled with 3% hydrogen peroxide (the regular stuff from the grocery store). When you bring your produce home, just spray all over with vinegar first, then peroxide. Let sit for 10 minutes and wipe or scrub gently during the thorough rinse.
  2. Fill a clean sink or large bowl with enough water to cover your produce, add a cup of vinegar and a cup of hydrogen peroxide for a large batch (reduce for less produce and water — doesn't have to be exact since these materials aren't toxic). Let soak for 10 minutes and wipe or scrub gently during the thorough rinse.

If You Can, Grow Your Own!

A garden at home is a sure step to nailing down the safety of your produce. You can monitor the soil, water quality and pesticide use (if any) to score the best fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices for your family.

Important Tips

  • Be sure to rinse thoroughly to remove the 3% hydrogen peroxide after washing because it's not to be ingested. You can also use food-grade 35% hydrogen peroxide for cleaning, but it MUST be diluted before use (we also found a food-grade 3% hydrogen peroxide).
  • Any vinegar will work, but white vinegar is the cheapest and most available.
  • It's a good idea to dry your produce after washing to stave off decay.
  • Berries are a little touchy and tend to take on the taste of vinegar and peroxide when washed with them, but a short soak and a thorough rinse most often prevents that problem.
  • It's commonly thought that dissolving a tablespoon or more of salt in your vinegar water bath will improve germicidal properties. Adding a big splash of lemon juice also enhances cleaning ability.

DIY Fruit and Veggie Wash to remove dirt, bacteria, and pesticide residue from your produce #DIY #nontoxic #veggiewash

What natural ingredients do you use for your DIY fruit and veggie wash?


1 comment
  1. vinegar and hydrogen peroxide create peracetic acid which makes a gas and can harm the lungs. not a good idea.

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