Food

What No One Tells You About Washing Produce

All produce, especially organic and farmers market produce, is covered in dirt and germs. Ew. A good vinegar wash can help.

A lot of food borne illness outbreaks are cause by the germs on produce! Remember the e. Coli outbreak from romaine lettuce in 2018? And that’s just a recent one that was nation wide. There are plenty of other cases.

On top of that, just think about the grocery store. How many times have you gone to the store a bit sick? Or taken kid with you that were sick? And do you really buy the first apple you pick up out of the bin? Or do you shuffle through a few to find the perfect one?

Those are just a couple of reasons off of the top of my head that I consider good enough reasons to sanitize my produce!

I’m not claiming it will keep you safe from illness, but once you see how much dirt and debris comes off of your fruits and veggies, you’ll want to keep cleaning yours too!

The Cleaning Power of Vinegar

I love using white vinegar to clean many things in my home. It’s safe a natural for one, but it also does a really great job!

Vinegar is acidic naturally, which makes it really great for breaking down grease spots and waxy spots on counter tops and other surfaces. Mixed with water, it’ll get all of that gunk off of your counter tops and stove top for sure.

It also won’t leave any streaks behind when you use it to clean glass! I use a 50/50 mixture with water and a lint free cloth, and I swear it works better than any store bought cleaner! If smell is an issue for you, a few drops of your favorite essential oils will do the trick!

But my favorite use for white vinegar is as a mild disinfectant.

It’s not nearly as powerful as over-the-counter disinfectants since it only kills about 80% of germs, but it is all natural and 80% sounds a lot better to me than 0! If someone in your household is sick, I still definitely recommend a marketed disinfectant, but for general cleaning and produce sanitizing, white vinegar is my favorite way to go.

Benefits of Vinegar Washing Produce

Aside from getting the dirt and microbes off, vinegar washing your produce does have another amazing benefit!

Your produce will last waaayyyy longer! I’m talking like days and days longer. It really is amazing.

I don’t know if it’s because of removing the dirt, or the edible waxes that some produce is covered in either naturally or mechanically (apples), but it definitely does work. I have had strawberries stay fresh for two weeks after cleaning with this method and then storing properly.

You Can’t Vinegar Wash All Produce

So as amazing as this process is, you can’t use it on all produce. As my general rule of thumb, I only wash it this way if I’m going to be eating the peels. If it’s something that gets peeled before it’s used or cooked, I usually just give it a quick water rinse before drying and storing, or I just skip the pre-wash all together.

Safe for Vinegar WashSafe for Water RinseSkip the Pre-Wash
– Apples
– Berries
– Pears
– Plums
– Lettuces
– Celery
– Cucumbers
– Peppers
– Squash with Edible Peel
– Tomatoes
– Potatoes
– Squashes with Inedible
Peels
– Carrots
– Beets
– Herbs
– Citrus Fruits
– Melons


– Onions
– Garlic
– Ginger Roots
– Avocados
– Anything Else
That’s Stored Dry



How to Vinegar Wash Your Produce

This is seriously the easiest method ever and makes such a huge impact.

All you need is:

  • A clean sink or large container
  • White Vinegar
  • Cool Water
  • Produce to Wash
  • Towel to Air Dry

My preferred method is using my kitchen sink because it’s the easiest to fill and clean, but if your sink is small or you just prefer using a large bucket that works too!

First make sure your sink is plugged. Add in white vinegar at a ratio of one cup of vinegar per one gallon of water. My sink holds about two gallons, so I put two cups of vinegar in.

Next, fill up your sink with cool tap water. You want to make sure it’s not hot (we don’t want to cook your fruits and veggies) but it also shouldn’t be ice cold. As close to room temperature is best, but if it feels slightly cool or slightly warm to the touch, that’s fine.

I usually start adding my produce when the sink is about half full so I can make sure I have room for everything without over flowing.

Once all of the produce is in and the sink is full, all you do is wait!

20 minutes total time is sufficient. I usually set a timer for 10 minutes and then give my produce a quick stir to make sure all sides are getting in contact with the solution and then let it sit for another 10 minutes.

Finishing Up

After 20 minutes have passed, it’s time to rinse and dry.

You should already see how cloudy the water i and how much sediment has fallen off, but it’s best to give all of your fruits and vegetables a quick rinse with fresh water to help knock off any remaining gunk.

First I lay out a towel on the counter large enough that all of my produce can be spread out without overlapping.

Next, I turn my sink sprayer on the other side of the sink and give each piece a thorough rinse before laying out on the towel.

Make sure that you leave enough space between each piece so that it can dry more quickly.

After all of the pieces are dry, make sure you store them in clean containers, or wrap in a clean cloth before storage. You definitely don’t want to put them back in the same dirty container they just came from. However, you can reuse those containers if you give them a good vinegar soak too.

Now all that’s left is to enjoy your fresh clean produce!


I hope this helps you keep you produce clean and lasting forever!

Drop me any questions below or let me know how well it works for you!

Related Posts:
How to Save Tons of Money at the Grocery Store
Paleo Peach Sherbet
Classic Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

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