Veggie washes, store bought or homemade, are typically billed as an effective, all-natural way clean your vegetables for safe consumption.
Most veggie washes on the market include surfactants to loosen debris or pesticides, and/or a sanitizer to kill microbes. But even when using a great sanitizer, water temperature, pH, or a dirty sink can make it less effective when actually applied to your veggies depending on the kind of debris you’re dealing with, and how much of the active ingredient is included.
Fresh fruits and vegetables do not naturally contain microorganisms (bacteria, viruses and parasites) that would cause food poisoning. However, fresh produce can become contaminated in the field through contact with soil, contaminated water, wild or domestic animals, or improperly composted manure. It can also come into contact with harmful microorganisms during and after harvest if it is not properly handled, stored, and transported. In addition, fruits and vegetables can become contaminated through contact with raw food items such as meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices. This can happen at the grocery store, in the shopping cart, on the conveyer belt when you’re checking out at the cash register, in the refrigerator, or on counters and cutting boards in the kitchen.
The groups at higher risk for serious health effects include pregnant women, children under the age of 5, adults over the age of 60, and people with weakened immune systems. You should see a health care professional and contact your local public health unit as soon as possible if you think you have a foodborne illness.
While much is being done at the farms and in the grocery stores to make sure that fresh produce is safe, there are still steps we can take in our homes to help prevent foodborne illnesses. By making sure that fruits and vegetables are properly handled, prepared and stored, you can enjoy the healthy benefits of these foods and help prevent foodborne illnesses.
Consider making your own fruit and veggie wash to loosen debris, remove pesticides, and eliminate some of the bacteria that other grocery shoppers passed on to your produce.
The recipe calls for vinegar, although it does not kill dangerous bacteria like staphylococcus. Vinegar is acidic however, which makes it a potent cleaner. According to NIH studies, household natural sanitizers like lemon juice and vinegar reduced the number of pathogens to undetectable levels.
Below, you’ll find two different set of instructions. One is for standard fruits and vegetables and one is for leafy greens, which should be cleaned separately.
How To Make Your Own Fruit & Veggie Wash
You’ll Need: Spray bottle, Measuring cup and spoons, Colander, Distilled white vinegar, Water, Lemon juice, Gentle scrub brush, Paper towels
- Mix 1 cup vinegar to 4 cups water inside your spray bottle, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Shake well to combine.
- Place your fruit or vegetable in a colander in the sink. Spray liberally with the mixture, let sit for 2-5 mins.
- Rinse off mixture thoroughly with cool water, using a vegetable scrub brush on thicker-skinned produce.
- Pat dry with paper towels.
How To Make Veggie Wash for Leafy Greens
Wash right before you eat the greens, as excess moisture can lead to faster decay in the fridge.
You’ll Need: Bowl, Measuring cup and spoons, Distilled white vinegar, Water, Salt, Colander or salad spinner, Paper towels
- Place your greens into a bowl. Fill the bowl with a solution of 1 cup vinegar to 4 parts water, add 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Let the greens sit in the solution for 2-5 mins then remove.
- Rinse off the mixture with cold water either in a colander or a salad spinner basket.
- Dry with paper towels or with a salad spinner.