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10 Tips for Cleaner Produce & a Fabulous DIY Wash

assorted fresh vegetables

Standing before a plentiful selection of produce at the market is where dreams begin, or at least mine. The rainbow of fruits and veggies, in idyllically imperfect shapes, with all manner of curly tendrils and roots, are akin to something out of a storybook garden. My mind wanders through thoughts of provincial pleasures like, berry-filled crostata, vegetable-forward tian, radish dipped in artisan butter, sprinkled with Maldon salt, and biting into that first peach of the season, and smelling the nectarous aroma of sweet summer, stone fruit.

With goodness like this, it’s easy to collect a menagerie of nature’s bounty and be on your way, now what? It’s time to treat yourself and all that glorious produce right! It’s time to properly handle, wash, and store your fruits and veggies, so you can get on with the delicious task of eating them!

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assorted fresh vegetables

DIY Produce Wash

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  • Author: Asha


Units Scale
  • 3 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda


For Spray

  1. Add salt, baking soda, and 1 ½ cups of warm water to a medium, nonreactive bowl. Stir until ingredients begin to dissolve and combine.
  2. Add the remaining 1 ½ cups water (cold) and vinegar to the bowl. Stir to combine and put solution into a clean spray bottle.
  3. Spray produce liberally, let sit for 2-5 minutes, then rinse under cool water, thoroughly dry, and store in a cool, dry area. Use spray within three days.

For Soak

  1. Add salt, baking soda, and 1 ½ cups warm water to a large, nonreactive bowl. Stir units ingredients begin to dissolve and combine.
  2. Add the remaining 1 ½ cups water (cold) and vinegar to the bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. Add your fresh produce to the wash and soak. Fully submerge in the wash for 20-30 minutes. Scale the recipe up if you need to wash a large amount of produce at once.
  4. Rinse produce under cool water, thoroughly dry, and store in a cool, dry area.

Wash Method by Produce Type:

  • Hard skin or rind produce (root vegetables, pineapple, melons, citrus, etc.): Using a firm bristle, vegetable brush, scrub produce under cool running water to remove dirt and debris. Soak in your DIY produce wash for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the wash, rinse, dry thoroughly and store in a cool dry area.
  • Leafy greens (kale, spinach, leeks, lettuce, herbs, etc.): Remove and discard outermost leaves of lettuce or cabbage. Rinse produce under cool water and separate the leaves. Fill a bowl with your DIY wash, toss in the leaves and agitate to dislodge remaining dirt. Let soak for 15 minutes. Remove from the wash, rinse, dry thoroughly (a salad spinner is helpful), and store in a cool dry area.
  • Berries and soft-skinned produce (raspberries, blackberries, grapes, etc.): Just before eating (to retain best flavor and texture), rinse in a colander under a slow stream of cool water, spray with your DIY produce wash and let sit for 2-5 minutes, rinse, dry thoroughly and store in a cool dry area, if not consuming immediately.


  1. Be forewarned, no cleaning or sanitizing process is 100% foolproof. All consumables carry some risk of chemical or pathogenic contamination.
  2. Contaminates found on produce can be reduced with proper handling and sanitizing; contaminates absorbed into the flesh or roots of produce, cannot be removed.
  3. I advise eating organic produce whenever possible. Organic produce contains less, or no pesticides in comparison to its conventional counterparts, and is kinder to the Planet. It does, however, have the same potential for pathogens.
  4. Keep raw meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood away from produce, while shopping, in transit, while preparing, and in your refrigerator.
  5. Before eating, cut away any damaged or bruised areas on your produce; damage to the skin can make it easier for contaminates to enter your food and multiply.
  6. Commercial produce wash often contains chemicals that can leave harmful chemical residue on your produce. It’s more effective to make your own produce wash, using no harmful chemicals.
  7. Do not soak produce in the sink as it’s constantly introduced to potential sources of contamination. Rather, designate a large bowl for produce washing, and use it only for this purpose.
  8. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water and rinse with hot, running water, before and after handling produce, as well as just before eating it.
  9. Make sure the surfaces in your prep area are clean, such as, kitchen sink, knives, cutting boards, countertop, and dishes. Be sure to wash these items after each use.
  10. Dry produce on a clean cloth or towel. Excess moisture can create a breeding ground for pathogens.
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