Here’s my how to wash produce guide and break down. So we’ve talked about produce shopping and how to shop smart and healthy. You’ve learned the code to your produce, so you know what you’re buying even if the store labeling is a bit off. Additionally, you read my post on the fruits and veggies that I would always buy organic. So you’re set on how to get the right vegetables and fruit in your cart, now what to do with them once you get home? I’ve got how, what, when and why covered on washing your produce and getting you to clean fruit and clean vegetable bliss.

Want clean vegetables & clean fruit?

I can’t stress enough how important it is to wash your produce. One concern is pesticides and chemicals. But another concern is protecting your family from foodborne illnesses. I also would recommend that you wash the produce that you’re planning on peeling or cutting the rind off of. Why? Because in the process of cutting or peeling, whatever’s on the outside transfers to the inside part that you’re about to eat. Think about the journey that produce made until it reached your kitchen. The many hands that touched it, the surfaces it was on, the microbes it picked up…yum. Just promise me you’ll wash it! This goes especially for those conventionally grown foods which were grown with the use of pesticides.

What to Wash?

Quick answer: Everything! All the produce you’re going to eat or cook with. Even the stuff I grow myself in my little yard (organically) gets a good washing before I eat it or cook with it. Now some produce just needs a good rinse under running water but then there are the special items that require some backup. In my opinion, one of the most important fruits to wash are citrus fruits, the conventionally grown ones get sprayed with lots of chemicals. Additionally, we often use their peel (zest) for cooking so you really want that peel clean. Also, think about the last time you juiced a lemon or lime, the juice inevitably get all over the outside of the fruit and your hand and you’re just adding all those pesticides to your beautiful lemon juice. Are you with me?

When to Wash Produce?

I would always recommend washing your food right before cooking or eating. If you wash them as soon as you get home you may contribute to them deteriorating faster. Also, bacteria and microbes can live (and grow) in your fridge too, so you’ll really want to wash right before consumption this ensures that you’re getting off as much as possible right before eating. Note: Citrus is the one produce that I always clean as soon as I get home from the store. This is because of how heavily they are sprayed (conventionally grown) and because they will not go bad faster after a good washing since their thick skins protect them well. I Also do this so that I am not introducing pesticides into my fridge or fruit bowl to my other goodies.

How to Wash Produce? My Produce Washing Guide

Do not ever wash your produce with dish soap, hand soap or detergent of any kind. Depending on the produce I use one of 5 options, you can mix and match these to step it up or down a notch.

The Shower

This is your entry-level wash, and truly the bare minimum that you want to do for all your produce. It’s basically just a good long rinse under cool water with a little massaging or rubbing.

Use for: Herbs, Berries, and other soft delicate produce with thin skins.

The Soak

This is one step up from the Shower. Fill a large bowl with room temp water and add your produce and a dash of distilled vinegar to it. Let it sit for 10+ minutes then drain and rinse properly.

Use For: Berries or Cucumbers and other similar produce

The Scrub

This is the basic shower option plus a good brushing/scrubbing for a deeper clean. Use a vegetable brush for this (not your cleaning brush please.) I would recommend this even if you are planning on peeling them afterward. But hey if you wash and scrub ’em good why not eat them whole and not miss out on the nutrients in the skins? There’s some real goodness in those skins and peels.

Use for: Potatoes, Carrots, Cucumbers for example

The Spin

Using a salad spinner, fill it with cool water and let the produce sit in that cool tub a couple of minutes. You could add some distilled white vinegar to this bath (combine the soak and the spin? Madness I tell ya!) for extra cleaning power if you like. Massage/rub with hands, drain off the water and spin baby spin! I will usually repeat this 2-3 times (also depends on how the ‘drained off’ water is looking.)

Use For: Salads, large amounts of herbs, asparagus, green beans

The Spray

So this is the big guns, that I pull out for citrus and most conventionally grown vegetables. I use my home-made produce spray it’s formulated to get as much of those chemicals off as possible, while still being safe to be on my food. I spray the produce, let it sit for about 15 minutes then do the shower under cool water with it.

Use For: Citrus Fruits, Bell Peppers, (any produce that I bought conventionally and that has a medium to strong skin/rind)

Your Shakers!

Okay, I don’t wanna sound like your mom here but you gotta wash your hands. Especially in between handling unwashed produce and eating or cooking. So in all this washing, don’t forget your little shakers too!

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