Get the nasties off of your produce and learn to make your own vegetable wash 9 different ways! It’s budget friendly and SUPER easy to make it yourself. Saves you money on expensive store-bought produce wash.
Warning: If you haven’t seen strawberries yet this season (or made a batch of easy no-cook strawberry jam), they’re coming!
And this post is the early sign we all need to get our ducks in a row when it comes to washing our fruits and vegetables. Have you seen the price of store-bought veggie wash? Way out of my budget!
Plus, pesticides are sprayed on all commercial produce – yes, even organic – and since it’s not a great idea to ingest pesticides if we can help it, let’s talk about how we can clean our produce naturally! Here are 9 homemade fruit and veggie wash recipes, each using ingredients you already have at home!
9 Homemade Fruit and Vegetable Wash Recipes
To restate what the University of Maine and the FDA advise, just use water. A soak and a good scrub, using a scrub brush like this one, will do the job.
2. White Vinegar
Using white vinegar to clean produce is one of the most popular methods, and for good reason. It’s so easy!
Because almost every home has white vinegar, it is an excellent option for all sorts of cleaning purposes. (My husband isn’t a fan of the smell, so I make citrus vinegar first, and then clean!)
To use white vinegar in a homemade produce wash:
Step 1. Combine 1 part vinegar to 3 parts room temperature water.
Step 2. Let the produce soak for 5-10 minutes,
Step 3. Scrub, rinse well and set aside to dry.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
According to Dr. Oz, apple cider vinegar removes pesticides and bacteria more effectively. He recommends 1 part ACV to 10 parts water. Again, let the produce sit for about 5 minutes, scrub if necessary, rinse and set aside to dry.
Ps… ACV typically costs more than white vinegar, so shop around for the best deal. The best price I’ve found online is at Amazon (just 15¢ per ounce, for organic ACV with the mother) BUT you can make your own ACV for even less if you aren’t in a rush and have apple peels and cores on hand. Here’s the easy tutorial.
I would never have thought to use salt in a DIY produce wash, but this article claims that salt is a natural disinfectant that helps to eliminate pesticide residue!
To make a salt-based fruit and veggie wash:
Step 1. Measure 1 tsp salt for every 1 cup of water.
Step 2. Let the produce sit for about 2 minutes.
Step 3. Scrub
Step 4. Rinse
Step 5. Air dry
5. Peel and Trim
Now this isn’t exactly a vegetable wash, but if your concern is the pesticide residue on the outside of the produce, then peeling and trimming the produce can take care of that!
6. Hydrogen Peroxide
This method was recommended to me by a reader, but upon further searching, it seems to be fairly popular!
Step 1. Combine 1 Tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide to 1 gallon of water.
Step 2. Soak
Step 3. Scrub
Step 4. Rinse
Step 5. Dry
This isn’t my top recommended method, for obvious reasons, but also because we use a homemade bleach alternative instead of traditional bleach in the laundry – so I don’t even have bleach in the house!
However, using bleach to sanitize produce (not just washing produce) is a common method in commercial produce production, and this guide from Oklahoma State University shares the FDA-approved guidelines for sanitizing produce with bleach.
Actually, using bleach to sanitize produce is especially common in countries where standards for food handling aren’t necessarily the best and your chances of getting sick are high.
To sanitize produce using bleach:
Step 1. Mix 2 teaspoons with 1 gallon of water.
Step 2. Rinse
Step 3. Dry
8. Citrus Essential Oils
Enzymes in citrus essential oils (orange, lemon, grapefruit, etc.) contain monoterpenes, which have the ability to dissolve petroleum-based substances. Since many pesticides are petroleum-based, citrus essential oils can remove them!
The catch though, is that oil and water don’t mix. In order to use essential oils to wash produce, you have to combine them with castile soap.
Ps..I know there are a lot of essential oil companies out there and I’ve certainly tried my fair share of brands. But after testing and researching and more testing, only one is worth spending money on (in my opinion). For a couple years now I’ve been committed to Young Living oils, and you can read more about their oils and my decision HERE.
However if Young Living is out of your reach, I’ve heard great things about Plant Therapy on Amazon.
9. Castile Soap
To wash produce using castile soap and essential oils:
Step 1. Combine 1 teaspoon castile soap + 7 drops citrus essential oil + 1 gallon of water.
Step 2. Soak
Step 3. Scrub if necessary
Step 4. Rinse
Step 5. Dry
You can also use castile soap without essential oils as an effective produce wash as well. Use the same ratio as above, just omit the essential oils!
If you go this route, the best deal I’ve found on castile soap is also through Amazon, for just 22¢ per ounce.
- No Single veggie wash will remove all pesticides, wax, resiudes, bugs and bacteria.
- The only way to consume produce that doesn’t have any of these things is to grow it ourselves. Since most of us aren’t able to grow 100% of the produce we consume, we’re looking for the next best option. That’s a homemade fruit and vegetable wash.
- Commercially grown organic foods are sprayed with pesticides.
- Yes, the pesticide must be on an approved list by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), but it’s still a pesticide.
- All fruits and vegetables should air dry, thoroughly.
- Many of these methods will get you a few extra days out of your produce, letting it last longer in the fridge before you get to “uh-oh we have to use this TODAY otherwise it goes into the trash.” But you’ll sabotage your own efforts if you put up the produce while it’s wet. Let it sit on a towel on the counter until it’s entirely dry, and then you can put it away.
- Whatever you wash your produce in, should be clean.
- If you’re using a bowl, make sure it’s a clean bowl. If you’re washing produce in the sink, wash and scrub the sink first. Washing dirty produce in a dirty bowl or sink won’t do you any good!
- Consider making a small batch.
- Most produce washes talk about washing everything at the same time in the sink… but what if you don’t want to do that? What if you just want to wash one apple, right before you eat it? I suggest and recommend putting a dispenser at your kitchen sink and filling it with a smaller batch of whatever natural produce wash you choose to use. A foaming dispenser like this one would work great with soap-based washes, and a spray bottle like this one would be great for liquid-based washes.
Is Vegetable Wash necessary?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against using commercial vegetable washes because the safety of their residues has not been evaluated and their effectiveness has not been tested or standardized. The FDA also recommends washing produce in cold tap water.
So with all that said, check out my list on how we can wash our produce as best as we can, using ingredients we already have!
Does vinegar kill bacteria on fruits and vegetables?
Cleaning your fruits and veggies with vinegar ABSOLUTELY helps kill bacteria, making it safe to eat. If you’re not a fan of the smell, try my citrus infused vinegar.
Which vinegar is best for cleaning vegetables?
I highly recommend this white vinegar.
Now that we have covered how to clean your produce in the most natural ways, I want to give you some veggie filled recipes that I know you’ll love:
- Vegetable Greek Salad
- Spring Vegetable Pasta Salad
- Roasted Vegetable Kale Salad
- Crunchy Vegetable Quinoa Salad