This 2-ingredient fruit and veggie wash is so simple, yet very effective for cleaning your fruits and vegetables.
I’m a bit of a freak when it comes to cleaning my produce. When I think about what could be on something as simple as an apple, I usually don’t want to think about it.
Why Should We Clean Our Produce?
I’m not trying to freak you out too much, I promise. But, I think it is worth considering for just a moment why we need to clean the lovely produce we purchase.
1 – Think about where your produce came from–the ground.
You might ascribe to the “God made dirt and dirt don’t hurt” philosophy, but you may want to rethink that notion when it comes to dirt that may be near cattle or other animals that poop. Animal run-off can make it into the ground and onto the plants we eat, and that can be really dangerous (E. Coli, for example). Unless we grow it ourselves, we likely don’t know the conditions of the farm where our produce was grown.
2 – Think about how many hands have touched your produce so far.
The person who picked it, someone in some warehouse or factory who sorted it, the produce guy at your grocery story, little kids who come by in their shopping cart, etc. The point is many people who may have nasty germs to share have touched your apple or lettuce.
3 – Think about the pesticides that are on your produce.
Unless you buy organic produce, there is a high likelihood that your fruit or vegetables are still coated in the chemicals that repelled or killed bugs and mold. And, those my friends, are NOT a good idea to ingest.
So, is your fruit or vegetable contaminated with bacteria, viruses, and/or nasty pesticides? The answer is probably yes to one or more of these.
You only need 2 ingredients for this simple yet effective produce wash:
Mixing this common kitchen ingredient with water can kill up to 98% of bacteria, while removing chemicals.
Lemon or Orange Essential Oil
One of my favorite true claims is that you can use citrus essential oils to clean pesticides and bacteria off of produce.
So HOW can citrus oil remove pesticides? The answer is monoterpenes. Specifically the monoterpene, d-limonene, which has the ability to dissolve petroleum oils among other things.
Pesticides are petroleum based. Therefore, the d-limonene commonly found in citrus oils can remove pesticides from your produce. Lemon and orange oils have particularly high concentrations of d-limonene, which is why they’re my favorite ones to use for cleaning produce.
How to Clean Produce
When cleaning apples, grapes, tomatoes, and other produce with smooth skin, do the following:
- Mix a 1:3 ratio of vinegar to water in a spray bottle (preferably glass.)
- Add 10 – 20 drops of pure lemon oil, depending on how large your spray bottle is.
- Shake bottle to mix before using.
- Start misting the fruit or the vegetable, making sure that you coat the produce’s exterior thoroughly.
- Leave the mixture there for 30 seconds.
- Rub the surface of the produce, while rinsing it with running water.
The technique above will remove bacteria and pesticide and cold running water can help eliminate the vinegar taste.
If you’re going to wash greens, such as Romaine lettuce, you need to separate the leaves individually to clean them thoroughly. After that, rinse the leaves under running water.
You could also soak your produce in the sink if you’re washing large portions at a time. Just fill the sink with a 1:3 ratio of vinegar to water, add a few drops of lemon essential oil, and let soak for 5 – 10 minutes, then rinse under cold water.
A tip to help your berries last longer:
Cleaning raspberries (or any berries) using the vinegar/water/lemon oil soak can inhibit mold growth and make them last much longer in the fridge. Because who likes mushy berries after just two days!
You want to make sure to store them like this…
Here’s exactly how I store my berries so they last longer:
- After washing your berries using the produce wash, set your berries out on a towel to dry on the counter.
- Next, place a paper towel at the bottom of a container that has a fitted lid. (I just use the clamshell container they come in.)
- Spread the berries out in one layer, making sure they aren’t stacked on one another.
- Place another paper towel on top of the berries.
- If you have more berries, you can set even more on top of this paper towel to make a second layer. But, you’ll need to top the second layer with another paper towel.
- Put on the lid.
- Store them in the fridge and they last for days and days this way!
Why Clean This Way?
1) Now that I can clean my produce effectively, I feel a little better about buying conventional produce over organic at times.
Although I’m a big believer in buying organic produce when possible, especially those from the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list, it can be SO expensive!!! We LOVE strawberries, blueberries, and so many other kinds of produce that are some of the “dirtiest” and cost an arm and a leg when grown organically. So, now that I can reduce the chemicals and bacteria by cleaning them really well, I buy conventionally grown for our favorites that we can’t always afford organically.
2) My produce lasts longer, especially the berries.
By using vinegar/water soak and storing them between paper towels in a container in the fridge, berries last much longer. No more throwing away of moldy raspberries or strawberries after 24 hours in my fridge.
3) I am much more likely to eat my clean produce, instead of letting it go bad.
When it’s clean and within sight in my fridge, I am much more likely to throw together a salad with lunch, eat an apple for a snack, or munch on grapes with my breakfast. I rarely have produce go bad anymore.
4) Vinegar is so cheap–much cheaper than any Fruit and Veggie Wash you might buy at the store.
Plus, those store-bought washes are not proven to be any more effective than water and rubbing according to Cooks Illustrated. Vinegar and lemon oil, however, is more effective than water!