Wash Your Fruits & Veggies With Vinegar

clean fruits and vegetables with vinegar

Clean Fruits and Vegetables: Organic or Not

Many fruits and vegetables are grown with pesticides to get rid of bugs.  Although nobody wants to find a creepy crawly thing in a peach or tomato, according to the Environmental Working Group, even small doses of pesticides can adversely affect your health and are worrisome, not well understood, and in some cases are completely unstudied.

Fortunately, you can drastically reduce your exposure to pesticides and bacteria found on produce with a thorough vinegar and water wash.  Experts found that a white vinegar and water wash kills 98% of bacteria and removes pesticides.

You can concoct your own vinegar/water mixture at home to save money.  You’ll probably spend less than 20 cents  to make a homemade vinegar and water rinse, compared to around $4 for a premade produce wash.  Plus,  you can use the same bottle many times when you make your own wash!

Good Green Habits for Washing Produce

  • Mix 3 parts water to 1 part white vinegar (3:1 ) in a spray bottle.
  • Spray on fruits and veggies to get rid of pesticide residue.
  • Rinse with water after spraying.

-OR-

  • Fill a bowl with water and add 1/8 to 1/2 cup of vinegar, depending on the size of your bowl.
  • Place your fruits and veggies in the bowl.
  • Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Rinse with water.

Note: GGH loves the second version because it’s super easy and quick.
Update:  You can read more about this topic (and get a new recipe!) at Cleaning Fruits and Vegetables: Organic and Conventionally Grown.

52 comments to Wash Your Fruits & Veggies With Vinegar

  • lolita

    tnx for the information

  • Lauren

    Don’t some pesticides get absorbed into the fruits and vegetables through the water they suck up, like strawberries? How does this rinse get rid of what’s inside?

  • E

    How long do you soak/leave the vinegar on your fruits and vegetables

  • Judi

    E,
    “Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.”

  • Le Blanc

    Should I only use white vinegar or will malt (or dark) vinegar give the same result?

  • marilyn

    Has this test gone through any scientific verification? And is flesh tested separately from peals.

    thank you

  • Tracey

    The link for the update with new recipe is not working. I have just run out of my “store-bought organic veggie wash”… of course the same day as I bought a TON of produce from a local farmer’s market. A friend sent me your page for information but I am very interested in the new recipe; how it differs and why? Thanks!!

  • RP

    For our delicate stuff, such as berries, we make a dilute solution from laundry detergent. Not all-tempa-cheer of course! The natural organic type of detergent with no dyes, perfumes, or any phosphate and metal containing compounds. We soak the fruits in a bowl with a very small amount of the soap and then rinse it off. Your plums are squeaky clean afterwards! You actually use so little, that one jug of detergent will last a lifetime.

  • chris m

    does this work on raspberrys too, mine always want to go mouldy in a day or two.

  • Linda

    Can you reuse your vinegar water several times for other fruits and veggies?

  • greenstrings

    Generally, the water will look somewhat “dirty” after you use it from regular grime. We usually can’t see the chemicals, but oftentimes we can taste them! So, to answer your question, I usually use the water in batches. If it starts to look dirty or I have super big batches of fruits and veggies, I might switch the water. However, I never reuse the water on different days. Good question!

  • greenstrings

    Yes, I use the rinse on raspberries. Although you must be VERY gentle and limit the soak time because raspberries are so tender. As for mold, I’m not sure if a vinegar rinse will be a significant help with that. Some fruits and veggies just naturally do not last very long. My advice is to eat them soon after you get them. When fruits and veggies don’t mold, they’re oftentimes covered with pesticides. (Certain store-bought cookies have a one-year shelf life, but freshly baked homemade cookies are only good for about one week. That’s just crazy! Store-bought mayonnaise won’t mold for at least one year, but homemade mayonnaise will mold in about 2 weeks.)

  • Linda

    Thank you so much for your quick reply on reusing the vinegar rinse…..

  • Bee

    i soaked my apples in the suggested vinegar/water solution for 15 mins and then rinsed and dried them, but they came out with some white splashy looking splotches on them. so i thought maybe they needed to soak longer, but then the whole apple was nearly covered with white. why does this do this? what is the white stuff (as it doesnt seem to rub or wash off)?

  • Bee

    you may disregard my previous comment, as i just needed to scrub harder, the white eventually scrubbed off

  • Nicole

    Do you need to do this right before eating the produce, or is it safe to wash, dry, and refrigerate for a period of time before eating? Will it turn mushy?

  • Diane Mullins

    Seems that we all must try to buy organic, on the good 15 list (or whatever its called) whenever possible – wash in warm running water – I’ve found that washing before refrigeration refreshes the vegie & they are fresh longer.When we can’t get organic, it’s best to stay away from the dirty dozen plus list. What we do plan to eat can be soaked in water/vineger for about 20 minutes, then lightly scrubbed with a soft bristle brush under warm running water. Store in fridge or on counter for some. Not so difficult when done all at once. Wouldn’t re-using the vinegar/water mixture be like soaking your food in pesticide water?

  • greenstrings

    Thank you for the tips! And… please do not reuse the water, since the pesticides are transferred from the fruit or vegetables to the water during the soak.

  • greenstrings

    I usually wash fruits and veggies in batches, allow them to air dry or wipe with a clean towel and then store on my counter or in the refrigerator. I’ve never had anything turn mushy because of a vinegar wash. In other words, fruits and vegetables will eventually rot if you don’t eat them, but the cause is usually time, temperature, humidity, etc. (If food doesn’t eventually rot, it’s because of preservatives!)

  • greenstrings

    The white stuff you saw was probably wax. If you polish an apple right after it’s been picked off a tree, it’ll turn shiny because you’ve removed natural wax that the apple makes to protect its water content. However, since the 1920s, commercially harvested apples have been coated with commercial grade wax to protect water content for longer periods of time and to make apples look appealing. One pound of wax can cover as many as 160,000 apples, which translates to about 2 drops of wax per apple. Supposedly the wax is made from natural ingredients certified by the US Food and Drug Administration and is safe to eat because the waxes are made from natural sources, including Carnauba wax made from the leaves of the Brazilian palm, Candelia wax made from a reed-like dessert plant of the genus euphorbia, and also food grade shellac. I don’t know about you, but I prefer my apples without added wax or shellac!

  • Shannon

    I have been doing this for years. Vinegar is amazing. I have an orange allergy, and we believe it’s actually from the pesticides reaction with the oranges. I wont go into details on the years I’ve dealt with that, but it only started 12 years ago. I was fine when I was a kid. In any event my point is I have had an organic orange and NO allergic reaction. Buy organic if/when you can. Sure it costs more but there is a reason.
    I use the vinegar wash on all veggies and fruits. My strawberries are BRILLIANT after this. If you soak for 5 min, then rinse in cold, your strawberries will keep up to 2 weeks! no joke! I dry completely then don’t store in that container of cardboard or full of holes. No no. Vinegar keeps everything you wash much fresher. Salas even for 8 days?! True story. I store everything in air tight containers. Lettuce with a paper towel damp and a spray of vinegar on it.. Strawberries and raspberries air tight,dried competely and no damp towel.
    Try it-works!!

  • Christopher Pratt

    Soaked apples in the vinegar solution recommended, but now there is some kind of white coating on them that will not come off and was not visible before soaking. What is it, why did it happen and are they ok to eat? Thanks!

  • Lynn

    Whatever you do don’t do a final rinse with tap water that is chlorinated. Fruits and vegetables absorb chlorine rapidly…something that is easily proven with a few chlorine drops. So you could be removing the pesticides with the vinegar BUT you’re adding chlorine. Ugh…

    I use high alkaline (11.5 pH) water to rinse all of my fruits and veggies and strong acid (2.5pH) to kill the germs.

  • Sharon

    Im new to this site. So to my understanding after reading all the comments you should leave for 20 minutes most fruit in vegetables in 3 parts vinegar to 1 part FILTERED water. Let them all dry out, then store in airtight containers with paper towel underneath? My question is how much of the pesticides will the actual fruit or vegetable absorb on the inside?

  • What if I forgot I had my strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and grapes soaking for 1 1/2 hrs – is it OK to eat these after soaking so long? They taste OK but wonder if it absorbed the vinegar and if I can get sick from ingesting vinegar

  • Zenqi

    I buy a lot of raspberries and used to have a high percentage go bad; until I started using vinegar. I now can buy six baskets of raspberries and they will last a week. As soon as I get home from the farmer’s market I dump all of the raspberries into a large bowl, pour a few cups of vinegar over them, fill the bowl with cold water and let them sit for about fifteen minutes. I drain them, lightly rinse and lay them out on a towel to dry before putting them into their baskets and into the refrigerator. I do not taste the vinegar.

  • I used to vinegar to wipe down picnic tables. Flies left the area and did not return to the picnic table. I sprayed vinegar to the exposed areas of my body such as my arms, legs and neck and did not get mosquito bites.

    Best regards! Seven Kings Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

  • Ido

    Very interesting. Two questions:
    1. The spraying method sounds easier. Doesn’t demand planing in advance and uses up less vinegar. Is it also less efficient?
    2. As to the bowl method, the instructions seem a bit vague. 1/8 to 1/2 cup depending on size of bowl. Is it basically the same 1/3 ration that one uses for the spray method?

  • greenstrings

    Hello Ido! Here are your answers! 1) In my opinion the plunging method is more efficient because the vinegar/water solution completely saturates the fruit or vegetable and is more likely to dislodge or wash away the pesticide during the rinse. 2) The bowl ratio is similar to the spray method. And you are right: Using vinegar to remove pesticides is an inexact science. It will always be that way until food growers are required tell us exactly what they’re putting on our food. (Remember to vote for politicians who care about the environment!) At any rate, the goal is to remove as much of the pesticide as you can before you eat your fruit or vegetable. Note: Just because you’re buying organic produce doesn’t mean you shouldn’t thoroughly wash it! Fruits and vegetables are handled during transport before you purchase it and they can also be grown near roads, highways, freeways, busy cities, etc., which means they can have unsavory not-so-obvious debris settle on their surface.

  • greenstrings

    There are several reasons why it’s quite difficult to know the amount of pesticides absorbed by fruits and vegetables while they were growing. First of all, it would depend a lot on the pesticide and qualities of the pesticides that the growers used. Are they mild or strong? What pests were they meant to tackle? Were they designed to permeate the skins or roots of the fruit or vegetable? And…more…have the fruits and veggies been sprayed or doused with a mix of many pesticides? If you can afford it, buy organic fruits and vegetables, since they aren’t sprayed with pesticides. However, if organic fruits and veggies aren’t available or you can’t afford them, do your best by washing your fruits and veggies thoroughly–with a vinegar/water wash if possible. By the way, always thoroughly wash organic fruits and veggies too, since they can come in contact with who knows what on their way to your market’s shelf. :)

  • greenstrings

    The white coating on apples is wax. Apples have their own natural wax, but stores/growers can add a food-grade wax to make (they think) the apples look more appealing. (Apparently they think nature needs help!) The so-called experts say you can eat apples that are coated with extra wax, but my experience is that I can taste it. Therefore, I sometimes soak apples extra long to break down the wax. It might be my imagination, but I think they taste much better after a long soak.

  • Ido

    Thanks for the informative answer! Another question, in the spraying method, is there any need to scrub the vegetables (this might be a bit difficult with some, like boroccoli). Also, should you let the vinegar sit for a while or can one just rinse it off immediately.

  • greenstrings

    Hi Ido! When soaking fruits and veggies, it’s advised to let them sit in the solution for about 15 to 20 minutes. If you decide to spray, it would be wise to wait the same amount of time. That said, if you don’t have 15 minutes to spare, just wait as long as possible. NOTE: You might find that’s too long for items with super tender skins, like raspberries. Also, I’ve noticed that certain fruits and veggies really do taste better after they sit in the vinegar solution before rinsing, especially apples! As for scrubbing, as you mentioned, you can’t scrub certain items. Other items–like potatoes, celery and apples– benefit from a scrub.

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