How to Wash Your Produce

I am often asked for the best method to clean fruits and vegetables, and if commercially available produce washes are necessary. I can’t say either way if supermarket veggie sprays work but I use what I grew up using; white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. I was excited to see Cook’s Illustrated prove the effectiveness of a vinegar wash that I learned from my mom years ago. The magazine did a study comparing the effectiveness of removing bacteria from produce with vinegar, plain water, antibacterial soap, and a produce wash. The vinegar wash got rid of the most bacteria. (I couldn’t find the original study on the Cook’s Illustrated website but did find a summary of it on

I keep a reusable spray bottle filled with either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar near my sink. I spray hard skinned vegetables and fruits like apples and cucumbers directly with the spray and rinse under water. For delicate greens, berries or grapes, I soak the produce in a bowl with water and a generous spray of vinegar and mix it gently with my hands.

My friend Veronica recommends using hydrogen peroxide to clean produce. The one source I found for that was on the Dr. Mercola website, though he recommends using both a vinegar and a hydrogen peroxide spray (kept in separate bottles).

Whichever method you choose, you do want to give your produce at least a water rinse to wash off bugs and dirt. And think about how many people handle your produce as it makes its journey to the supermarket produce aisle before it arrives to your kitchen.

A salad spinner is a practical way to quickly dry off just washed salad leaves- your dressing will cling to the leaves much better if it is dry (I prefer the push down spinners as opposed to the pull cords and crank handled ones). But you can always lay them out on towels to dry as well.

This post is linked to The Nourishing Gourmet | Pennywise Platter Thursday.

What method do you prefer? Do you use vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or even chlorine?

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  1. Moms says

    I have been washing all my fruits & veggies with apple cider vinegar for years. I learned about this method when I lived in Brazil. I also like to add a little bit of crushed ice to the water to freshen up the fruits & veggies. I do this even if I buy “washed” produce. Love you, Moms

  2. Genevieve says

    I’ve been using “fruit and veggie spray” but I’m going to switch after reading this since vinegar is so much cheaper and it probably works better.

  3. Kman in the kitchen says

    I have been using hydrogen peroxide on salad greens and small fresh fruits, right before usage, and just scrubbing and rinsing hard vegetables.

    I have been using a vinegar, water and soap spray for years for my counters, and will try your straight vinegar spray idea now for washing all vegetables.

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