The USDA recommends eating 5-9 fruits and vegetable servings a day. However, before you reach for something to eat, please make sure it is properly cleaned.
Covid 19 has made all of us more aware of the importance of cleaning fruits and vegetables properly and safely of all the pathogens and even recommended some more abrasive ways to wash these products apart from water rinse and made many people wonder if water is enough.
So what is the best product to use to wash your fruits and vegetables from all the vaxes, critters, germs, and pesticides, and do you have to wash all of them before consummation?
We give you some best ways to clean them when they hit your kitchen and also, we advise you not to use some methods that are not recommended.
Why Do You Need To Wash Your Products?
Most the fresh products are handled by many people before they come to the grocery store, and there is a chance that they might be sneezed on, coughed on, and breathed on as well, so if you wash them adequately will reduce significantly the residues that are left on them during their journey to the store.
In some cases, they might be contaminated by animals, poor hygiene among workers, or some harmful substances in the water where they are grown or watered with.
During the pandemics, many people advocated the use of many products to wash the fruits and vegetables like lemon juice, vinegar, soap, and some people even used commercial cleaners like bleach as an additional measure.
However, FDA ( Food and Drug Administration), many health experts, and food safety experts advise people to stick to plain water and rinse the product before peeling it. (1)
FDA ( Food and Drug Administration) recommends you to:
- Buy products that are not bruised or damaged and be careful when buying pre-cut products
- If there is a bruise or a cut on the product, remove the damaged areas
- Wash your hands 20 seconds before washing, preparing, or eating the fresh fruits and vegetables
- Wash and rinse all the products you need to peel before peeling them, and be careful not to transfer any bacteria to the knife or from the knife onto the products
- You can gently rub the products while washing it, without using any soap or produce wash
- For some firm fruits and vegetables, such as melons and cucumbers, you can use a wash scrub
- When you eat lettuce or cabbage, always remove the outermost leaves of the head and then rinse them or submerge them in a bowl of clean water
Furthermore, one study showed that vinegar or any other produce wash does not improve the cleaning effect of plain water, and wiping apples and tomatoes with a wet or dry paper towel showed lower bacterial reductions compared with soaking and rinsing procedures. (2)
Some other research studies have shown that in some cases, a baking soda bath or neutral electrolyzed water can be more effective than plain water, but in general, most experts have come to a consensus that cool tap water is the best wash for veggies and fruits in combination with a gentle scrub. (3)
Which Vegetable Wash Is The Best And Necessary?
Plain tap water, the most popular and economical choice to wash fresh products and prevent your family from food poisoning is the best and necessary wash you should do on every occasion when consuming veggies and fruits. Moreover, one study from 2018 showed that peeling fruits and veggies could reduce pesticide residues more effectively than just a simple soak and wash in plain water. (4)
Washing fresh products is necessary to ward you off from many illnesses and protect yourself from getting foodborne diseases such as E.coli, listeria, or salmonella.
In addition, pesticides found in some food may have some other negative health effects and can be associated with reproductive issues, such as a lower probability of pregnancy and a man’s fertility. (5)
It is very important to note that having 5 to 7 servings of fresh vegetables and fruits per day outweighs the risks of pesticides.
Organic fruits and vegetables are proven to have a lower level of pesticides, but they need to be washed properly with plain tap water as well before consummation.
What Are Homemade And Commercial Vegetable Washes Made Of?
If you want a homemade natural solution, and you do not want to buy a commercial one from the store, it is very easy to make it. You will need ingredients you already have at home, like lemon juice, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or baking soda. This is also a safe and effective option compared to some bought produce washes.
Fruit and vegetable wash are something similar to hand wash, but used for fruits and vegetables and can significantly clean away all the dirt and grime from fruits and vegetables than a simple water rinse.
Most of the fruit and vegetable wash contains water, potassium sorbate, citric acid, sodium citrate, calcium ascorbate, sea salt, vegetable glycerin, and some other preservative.
There are some devices that can help you eat more hygienic and fresh food, like vegetable washers and vegetable washing machines that use ion purifying technology and use water as raw material with no chemical additions.
Recipe For Homemade Vegetable Wash With Vinegar
On the internet, there are many recipes for homemade fruit and vegetable washes, but one of the most popular ones is the one with vinegar. This ingredient is very popular for many cleaning solutions, it is very acidic and this makes it a powerful cleaner.
According to one study, acetic acid found in vinegar can be very effective in killing bacteria such as E.coli on leafy greens. (6)
Another study proved that wash with vinegar is more effective in killing the bacteria Salmonella on apples. (7)
Still, the results from the studies are mixed and there are some studies that proved that this solution doesn’t work any better than plain water alone.
We can conclude that vinegar wash may remove bacteria from some types of vegetables and fruits and is especially good for leafy greens.
To make your own DIY fruit and veggie wash, you will need the following ingredients:
- Spray bottle
- Spoons and measuring cup
- Fruit and vegetables wash basket strainer
- Distilled white vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Gentle scrub brush
- Paper towels
How to make it?
- Make a solution of 1 cup of vinegar with 4 cups of water and put in the spray bottle
- Mix it and shake it well and add a tablespoon of lemon juice
- Put the vegetables or the fruit in the Strainer in the sink and spray it with the vinegar wash
- Let it sit for five minutes and rinse it thoroughly with cool water
- You can use a vegetable or fruit scrub to brush tick-skinned fruits and vegetables
- Dry it with paper towels
To make a veggie wash for leafy greens, you will need the following ingredients:
- Metal or glass bowl
- Spoons and measuring cups
- Distilled white vinegar
- Wash basket vegetable salad spinner
- Paper towels
How to make it?
- Put the greens in the metal or in a glass bowl and fill the bowl with a solution of 4 cups of water and 1 cup of vinegar and add a tablespoon of salt
- Soak the greens for five minutes and remove the solution from the wash vegetable basket of the salad spinner
- Rinse it thoroughly with cold water while in the basket
- Dry it with the paper towels
Note: It is always best to wash the leafy greens thoroughly before consummation because the moisture can make them decay in the fridge.
7 homemade fruit and vegetable wash recipes to wash your vegetables with
Salt and water solution is a natural disinfectant that can also help in removing pesticide residues.
You should make use 1 tsp of salt with 1 cup of water and let the fruits and vegetables sit in the solution for about 2 minutes, scrub it and rinse it off with plain water.
Apple cider vinegar
As mentioned above, white vinegar is very effective in cleaning the bacteria and pesticide residues and it is present in most homemade vegetable and fruit washes. Apple cider vinegar can also be used as a replacement for white vinegar, and it is chemical-free.
Put 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a large bowl of 8 cups of water and mix it. Put your fruits and vegetables inside and let them sit for about 15 minutes. Scrub them gently, rinse and dry them and enjoy.
Baking soda is one of the most common neutralizers that can be used for acidic pesticides and may be the most effective produce wash. One study from 2017 showed that a mixture of baking soda and water could remove almost 80% of certain pesticides in soaked apples. (8)
However, this solution should not be used for mushrooms and berries and you need only 1 teaspoon of baking soda for 2 cups of water compared to vinegar and lemon, and other popular ingredients used for washing vegetables and fruits.
Castile soap can be used with or without essential oils to make an effective produce wash. You can make a mixture of
- 1 tsp of castile soap
- 7 drops of essential oil
- 1 gallon of water
Soak and gently rub the produce and cleanse it with water.
Just like you use alcohol to disinfect your things in the kitchen or the bathroom, you can also use food-grade ethyl alcohol wash to remove all dirtiness and bacteria from your fruits and vegetables. Plant-based ethyl alcohol is safe in small quantities because it is derived from corn.
Food-grade citrus oil removes the buildup that is left on the fruits and vegetables – grime, wax, and other things used to polish the fruits to look shiny and beautiful.
The enzymes in the citrus oils ( orange, lemon, and grapefruit) contain monoterpenes that can easily remove the pesticides build. But, you should mix it with castile soap because citrus oils cannot be mixed with water.
Food-grade hydrogen peroxide 3%
When using hydrogen peroxide, you should be extra careful because, in large quantities, it can be lethal. So mix 1 tbsp of 3 % peroxide with 3 l of water and make a nice mixture.
Soak the produce into the mixture and let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse it with cold water.
Is Produce Wash Necessary And Effective?
Although plain water is probably the best and the most economical choice to make when washing fruits and vegetables, some people use white vinegar, lemon juice, and other commercial products such as produce wash for fruits and vegetables.
When you buy fruit and vegetable wash, you might look for a specific brand, but most fruit and vegetable washes have organic ingredients.
There is one fruit and vegetable wash that is totally safe and it removes 4 times more contaminants and pesticides from vegetables and fruits than water alone. Here are the two most common parasites that can be cleaned with vegetables and fruit wash. (9)
You can buy vegetable and fruit wash as a concentrate that needs to be mixed with water or you can buy it in a spray bottle depending on the quantity of product you want to clean.
If you want to wash a lot of fruits or vegetables at once, then it is better to add a few drops of concentrate to a bowl full of water because it is a more economical choice. However, if you want to clean one fruit and you don’t want to get your hands soaked in water, then a spray bottle is a faster and more effective way. (10)
If you wonder about the safety of the products you buy, then check the label. If your produce is organic, then you should opt for an organic wash as well. Check the label for “certified organic” because that wash is free of synthetic additives. If you want your wash to be gluten-free, like most veggies and fruits are, then make sure your wash is also gluten-free.
However, as noted above, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using clean water and sanitizing surfaces as the best way to clean your fruit and vegetables and never use soap or detergent while washing them. Moreover, many studies found that produce washes are as effective as a simple rinse and soak of veggies and fruits in tap water.