How To Clean Fruits & Vegetables Naturally

Recently we’ve done a couple of posts about organic vs. non-organic produce in the form of the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen. One of you lovely readers had a question about the best ways to wash your produce – an excellent inquisition indeed.

The truth is, even if your fruits and vegetables are organic (and I surely hope they are), they need to be washed. Produce can contain lots of bacteria, parasites, and other bugs and toxins, and we certainly do not want to be ingesting any of that! Think about how many hands have touched your produce before you get to it – and if it happened to come from a farm that uses *natural* fertilizer… that means you’re likely dealing with animal feces. So let’s get to washing!

First, I’d suggest getting your hands on a natural fruit & vegetable brush. This one is made with a bamboo handle and tampico fiber bristles. Not only does it do a great job in terms of cleaning, it looks absolutely beautiful, which makes it a lot of fun to use.

naturally cleaning produce

According to my research, as well as tips from our knowledgeable readers, it seems that there are three main natural cleaning solutions for produce.

naturally cleaning produce

First up: apple cider vinegar! We’ve talked about ACV a million times before – it is an absolute gem to have in your kitchen and beauty cabinet.

naturally cleaning produce

To use: Combine about 1 tablespoon of ACV with 1 tablespoon of filtered water into a spray bottle, and shake to mix. Apply a few spritzes onto each piece of produce and brush for about 30 seconds. Then give a good rinse with water and you’re all set! This method works best if you’re just cleaning one or two vegetables. For bigger batches, you can soak them, which we’ll cover next!

naturally cleaning produce

Up next is white vinegar – a brilliant ingredient when it comes to natural housekeeping. To make the solution, combine 1 part distilled white vinegar with 3 parts filtered water.

naturally cleaning produce

To use: As with the ACV mixture, you can either use a spray bottle to spritz onto your produce one at a time, or you can follow the soak method. To soak, fill up a large bowl with this mixture, and let your produce soak for about 5 minutes. Then, give it a good scrub or rub as you rinse it off under the sink.

I like the idea of washing all your produce at the same time, a soon as you get back from the grocery store. While it might seem like a lot of work at once, you’re saving yourself a lot of time and hassle in the future!

naturally cleaning produce

The final method is to use a store-bought fruit & vegetable wash. The key here is to make sure that you use one with totally natural, edible ingredients – if it isn’t safe to eat, you don’t want to use it to clean your produce! I like Rebel Green Fruit & Veggie Clean, which I found at Whole Foods. It’s filled with lots of goodness like organic lemon extract, lime extract, and grapefruit seed extract, so it even smells delicious.

This one works great with the spritz-and-rinse method, but you can also pour a tablespoon into a bowl of water and let your produce soak. I’ve been using this for a couple days now, and I feel so good about the foods that I’m putting into my body. I must admit, prior to this, I would run my fruits and vegetables under the faucet for about 3 seconds and hardly even give them a rub. This gives me much more peace of mind!

A big thanks to those of you who commented on my previous posts with your favorite ways to wash produce! If you guys have any other tips, please share!

Follow Brigette on Instagram, and have a look at her blog and Etsy shop!

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9 years ago

while buying organic is obviously ideal, i think it’s important to understand that there are so many people in this county and the world for whom food insecurity is a daily concern and buying organic is not only impossible but would be irresponsible if accountable for feeding their children. for them, it’s not simply a matter of sacrificing a night out at the bar, it would be about sacrificing an entire week’s meals. i sometimes think we become too focused and self-righteous about buying organic.

9 years ago

Renee — that’s a great point and a much-needed reminder to be grateful. Thank you for that!!!

9 years ago

I clean harder fruits like apples and pears with baking soda. Not only does it clean them, it also scrubs off the waxy coatings that are often put on grocery store versions of these fruits to make them look shiny.

9 years ago

This is very interesting read. I’ve been cleaning my fruit ever since I was kid, I believe it was my doctor who had mentioned that it’s harmful to eat the pesticides. We’ve always used antibacterial hand soap (a very small amount less than a pea size) to wash fruits and veggies. I love these alternative (natural) options especially just using vinegar and I believe another person mentioned using baking soda as well.

9 years ago

Lovely photography style! xo

Aliona |

9 years ago

I agree with Renee as well. Also, I think media created all this hype about buying organic. Yes, it is great in theory, but after talking to quite a lot of farmers, I realized everything is not so black and white and I am more than satisfied with normal, non-gmo food. Great post though! :)

Aniqa x

9 years ago

Should softer fruits (i.e. berries, grapes etc) be soaked as well? And if so should they be air dried or dried with paper towels if I wash them and keep them in the fridge?

Sadly I don’t recall scrubbing veggies and fruits growing up. In fact I clearly remember Grandma saying something like, “A little dirt never hurt”. We used to rinse and go.

Best regards! Raynes Park Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

8 years ago

I had no idea that I should clean my vegetables so hard even if they are organic, from my own garden! Thanks a lot for sharing this helpful article! Love the idea with the vinegar! Charlton Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

8 years ago

I read a study once that said distilled water does just a good a job of cleaning fruits and veggies as any cleaner in the store. I’m not big on vinegar cleaning my fruit I feel like it would give it a weird taste.

8 years ago

When you wash vegetables, don’t just hold them under the running tap. Rub them under water, for example in a bowl of fresh water. Start with the least soiled items first and give each of them a final rinse.

8 years ago

This is a very interesting article. Thanks for sharing. I love bananas and now I know how to properly clean them :)

Narasiman Ramachandran
7 years ago

Hello, I truly enjoyed reading your post. I wanted to thank you for this great post!!!
organic fruit and veg

It is soooooo relevant for me at this moment.

5 years ago

It is very important to clean vegetables properly. Thanks for sharing this information.