After enduring months of long, cold winters, are you as ready for spring as I am?
Because spring means that gardening season, farmers market season, and salad season are just around the corner!
Since many of you are already planning your lovely gardens, hitting up your farmers market, and ordering from your local CSA, I figure it’s the perfect time to talk about preserving your abundance of produce!
I don’t mean recipes, or canning, or lacto-fermentation. I want to talk about the first thing you do to produce when you bring it home. Even before putting those juicy fruits on display in great-aunt Mabel’s crystal fruit bowl. 😉
Let’s talk about the best ways to wash produce!
Choose 1 Of These Ways To Wash Produce… Yes, Even Organic Produce!
It’s very important to clean your fruits and veggies.
Most obviously, there are thousands of microscopic organisms living on produce. Some of them — including harmful bacteria, mold, fungi, and animal waste — we shouldn’t eat.
Additionally, if you don’t grow your own food, you don’t know for sure what chemicals are on it. I normally follow the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 List when shopping for non-organic foods at the grocery store. Since it’s likely that at least a few of the items were sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, or other toxic chemicals — I definitely need to clean that junk off!
And even if you do buy all-organic produce, certified organic farms are allowed to use some approved pesticides and chemicals. According to our own government’s regulations, these include copper sulfate, lead salts, arsenic, streptomycin, and tetracycline. I don’t know what’s wrong with compost, water, and sunshine alone! If there is even a trace of tetracycline on my apples, I want it gone!
Finally, choosing one of these ways to wash produce can actually keep it fresher for longer. That’s a big bonus! We need to make those precious, organic, store-bought goodies last as long as possible.
Water Alone Isn’t Enough
I hate to say it, but water isn’t enough anymore. Granny may have been able to get away with washing her green beans in water 75 years ago, but she didn’t have to worry about streptomycin or arsenic on her veggies.
Water won’t remove the residues of those “government-approved organic” chemicals, and it won’t kill E. coli or any other dangerous bacteria either.
If you’re buying imported food from other countries or halfway across the United States, there’s no telling what condition it’s in. Produce travels an average of 1500 miles before landing in the bin at your local grocery store. You don’t know if it was sprayed, how old it is, what it came into contact with during transport, if the handler sneezed on it, or how many people touched it at the store. Gross!
Thankfully, I know several ways to wash produce to make it squeaky clean without spending a fortune on expensive fruit and veggie washes or sprays. Choose the one that works best for you!
Option 1: Hydrogen Peroxide + Water
Hydrogen peroxide is nature’s bleach. It whitens and brightens many things — such as your teeth, your hair, your tile grout, or your husband’s yellow armpit stains on his undershirts!
The food-grade 3% solution sold at every grocery store, drug store, and dollar store is non-toxic.
This option is my preferred method for washing our produce, as peroxide is effective at killing many harmful microbes, including E. coli!
I took the following photos after I washed produce in a hydrogen peroxide + water soak. As you can see — bug clusters and lots and lots of dirt. There’s also a filmy residue on top of the water that the camera doesn’t show.
How To Wash Produce With Hydrogen Peroxide + Water
Fill your sink, a bucket, or a tub — whichever is easiest for you — with cold water. The colder, the better. Add about 1 tablespoon of peroxide per 1 gallon of water. In my sink, I use about a 1/4 cup.
If you have a double-sided sink, fill the other side up with fresh, cold water. If you don’t have a double-sided sink, that’s all right too.
Add your produce to the hydrogen peroxide + water mixture, and immerse it completely. Swirl it around, turn it over, splash it around a bit — this is actually a perfect job for your children to do if they love playing in sinkfuls of water like mine do! Remove any store stickers, browned or soft leaves, and moldy, soft berries immediately.
After 10 minutes or so, transfer everything to the clean water. Let it soak, again swirling and swishing it around to thoroughly rinse everything. If you don’t have a double-sided sink, just drain the peroxide mix and refill with fresh, cold water.
After rinsing, transfer the produce to a clean, dry towel and let it air dry.
Store as you normally would, either in a bowl on the counter, in your pantry, or in your refrigerator. I find that the hydrogen peroxide kills pathogens, bacteria, and mold very well. My produce still lasts a long time.
Option 2: White Vinegar + Water
Rinse and soak your produce with white vinegar and water the same way you would with hydrogen peroxide.
Use approximately 1 tablespoon of white vinegar per 1 gallon of very cold water. Soak your produce for a few minutes, swish and swirl, then rinse with clean water. Drain, dry, and store as usual.
I’ve read mixed reviews on vinegar’s efficacy as a disinfectant. Some sources say it kills many microbial organisms, while others say it’s not nearly as effective as peroxide. Vinegar is not a “registered” disinfectant, meaning the EPA hasn’t listed it as an official disinfecting cleaner that kills harmful bacteria such as E. coli or staphylococcus.
If you are set on using vinegar as your produce cleaner and want to be sure that the bad stuff is killed, your best bet is to use a 5% solution that is not diluted with water. Simply spray it directly on your produce, let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse it off.
Vinegar is very good at removing the waxes or “films” on produce like apples. It is even more effective at this than peroxide.
Other Tips And Tidbits
Use a scrub brush. You may find it helpful to buy a scrub brush for produce like potatoes, mushrooms, or dirty root vegetables. You don’t need to buy a fancy scrubber made specifically for produce — any soft-bristled scrub brush will do, provided you use it for produce only and not to scrub dishes or the toilet! 😉
Invest in a salad spinner. A salad spinner is such a time-saver when drying leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale. I got mine for $5 at Ikea over 5 years ago, and it’s still going strong. If your family eats a lot of leafy veggies, this is a worthy investment.
The “seven waters” cleaning method. I have a cookbook from the 1920s which recommends washing spinach, kale, and other leafy greens in “seven waters”. I understand this to mean that these greens were washed 7 times, changing the water each time, before considered clean! That’s how dirty produce could be from almost a hundred years ago, before pesticides!
Separate moldy or bruised produce. Keep all bruised produce away from your other produce, even after washing, and use it first in smoothies, casseroles, or for juicing. Throw away any moldy produce as soon as you get it home from the store or market. Your other produce will last much longer. Have you ever had a lemon grown blue-green mold on the skin, even when stored in the refrigerator? Not one of my lemons has spoiled that way since I started soaking and washing with the above methods!
Wash first. If your family goes through a lot of produce each week like mine, I highly recommend washing all of it as soon as you get it home from the store. Make it your routine to take 20 to 30 minutes after getting home from the store, and prep all of your produce. This saves time later! You can also enlist children to do this for you, which is what I typically do!
Cooking is the only way to 100% kill E. coli, staph, or salmonella on produce. If you plan on eating it raw, your best bet is to buy local and organic or grow your own, even if you wash it thoroughly.
Soak all of your produce! Even if you plan to peel it later (carrots, potatoes, parsnips, even bananas!), I recommend you wash all of your produce. These soaking solutions really do keep produce fresh for longer.
Use cold water. For all three options, your soaking and rinsing water should be as cold as possible. This keeps the produce very crisp and fresh.
So far, the only produce I haven’t soaked and rinsed are onions and garlic. I’m not sure how the thin skins would react to being drenched with water. If you try it, let me know how it works!
Which of these ways to wash produce will you try first?
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Such a timely article for me to stumble upon on fb. I was just scouring the internet for information about washing fruits and veggies before using and storing them (after cleaning and storing a weeks worth of salad lettuce, veggies and fruit) . Then I find that EVERYONE says not to do it and that made me so sad. Truth is I simply do not have time in the morning to wash and cut up lettuce, spinach, peppers, carrots, etc. before throwing together a salad or smoothie for me and hubby to take to work. It’s so much easier to have it all ready to grab and go. I could do it the night before but after cooking dinner and cleanup all we want to do is hang (did I mention I’m 6 months pregnant with Identical twins? Yeah, I’m tired).
So thanks for cutting through the crap I’ve read on most other sites. Quick question though – my best friend swears by using castille soap (Dr. Bronner’s) for washing fruits and veggies. We recently ran out of white vinegar, which I have always used to wash, so today I used my Bronner’s. Do you think that’s an ok substitute? We don’t have bleach or H2O2 in the house. Thanks again!
Lindsey Dietz says
Maigen, I wasn’t aware of info floating around about NOT washing produce ahead of time! Ha! I agree; it is much easier to have it ready to go right when you need it and not have to take the extra step of washing first, especially when you’re in a hurry. And I certainly could not imagine it being preggers with twins! Congratulations, and bless your heart!
I think Dr. Bronner’s soap is a wonderful product, and I wouldn’t have a problem using it to wash our produce. It is plant-based and has no toxic chemicals in it. I have also seen some people using essential oils for their produce. I have tried this and it seemed to work well, but my EOs are expensive and I don’t want them going down the drain!
Hope that helps!
Thank you Lindsey for the info and the congratulations! We are very excited and slightly terrified!
I was told not to pre wash produce as well. I’m so excited to see your article and it’s perfect timing for me as tomorrow is shopping day!
Hi kim, I just ran on your post while checking if romaine is now safe and best ways to clean veggies. Since covid I started washing all product in a sink of water w 1 cap of microbial bleach but I wonder if it’s safe. I have food grade peroxide for our toothbrushes but never thought to use it for food…I like that idea better than bleach. The food does taste different w bleach h water if even well rinsed. I buy my food grade peroxide at local Sprouts. I wonder if white vinegar would really kill pathogens…and it would taste like vinegar. I’m going to switch to food grade peroxide wash because we started getting diarreah and I wondered if the bleach is poisoning us. The cdc says never to use it. Thx
I use Dr Bronners to wash the potatoes (which must be organic), it works much better then anything to remove DIRT, you wash the potatoes the way you wash your hands only obviously scrubbing harder and doing it at least twice until the soap is not dirty. It does not make any sense to “soak” in soap, for most things I would just use vinegar to remove the chemicals.
Stacey Saladyga says
As for berries, how soon after soaking (I’m going to use the water + peroxide method) should they be consumed? All I can image is moist mushy fruit.
Lindsey Dietz says
When I wash berries in water + peroxide, they don’t come out mushy at all. And they last several days longer than usual! To be safe, maybe within 3 days? Of course, make sure you remove any already mushy berries or berries with soft spots!
Stacey S. says
Thank you. Giving it a try today with raspberries.
Do you wash potatoes this way too? If so, how do you store them afterward?
Lindsey Dietz says
Sallee, yep, I sure do wash potatoes this way–white, red, and sweet potatoes! I store them in a bowl on my counter when they’re clean. If my bowl runs out of room (which is a common problem in my house), I’ll stick them in the crisper drawer in the fridge. Either way, I’ve never had them go bad quickly. Does that help?
Thank you Lindsey for this post. I have been using the vinegar and water method for the past few years but I didn’t know that it would not kill certain bacterias or that it should be used full strength. So, thank you bunches!! Yes it does make my apples and pears squeaky clean with all wax residue completely gone so I thought we were ” safe “!
Question : I have stopped purchasing the bagged organic cut cleaned baby carrots because they just always have a chlorine taste to them. I’m assuming it’s because they treat them with chlorine bleach. Yet, you are saying that using the bleach method did not leave a. “funny or off taste” to the veggies. Are you familiar with the baby carrot problem? Nonetheless , I will be changing to the peroxide method! Thanks!
Lindsey Dietz says
Nancy, that’s a great question about the peeled baby carrots! I don’t buy them often, and when I do, the kids are the ones eating them. I don’t digest raw produce well, so I avoid it. I’m not sure how or if those companies rinse their carrots prior to bagging them. They must not rinse them well if you’re tasting chlorine. Plus, those carrots do last a REALLY long time, which makes me wonder if there is some other preservative or something on the carrots. I have noticed that a couple of times the carrots have gotten a slimy film after a few days and I’ve had to throw them out. I don’t know if that’s related to the washing or if I happened to get a bad batch. Hmmmm….something to think about!
I quite buying baby carrots when I started tasting a “soapy” on quite a few carrots in several bags. Besides, baby carrots aren’t really baby carrots. They are big carrots that are cut in smaller pieces or are leftover and then they are peeled down to smaller sizes. I think I will try the peroxide or vinegar on our produce after our next shopping trip.
Great post! I’ll be giving this a try. We lived in a third world country for a while and washed all of our produce in a water/bleach solution. I understand the need for the bleach but what bothered me was that no matter how hard I tried to be careful, I lost a few clothes and pretty aprons that were ruined because of it. I’d be inclined to start with the vinegar solution for that reason alone. 🙂 I also didn’t realize that I probably am not washing my greens quite enough and we do eat a lot of those.
Lindsey Dietz says
Jenny, I haven’t lost an apron or a shirt to the peroxide, so perhaps it’s diluted enough that it’s bleaching properties are neutralized? Did you feel like the bleach/water solution kept your produce fresher for longer? And did you ever taste any remnant of bleach on your food? Just curious!
We did often have that faint bleachy aftertaste on our food. We went through our produce rather quickly and purchased it often so I really don’t know that it kept it fresher that much longer.
Thanks for this post, I actually didn’t know this; I washed my produce as I used it.
Lindsey Dietz says
Edie, it’s totally fine to wash your produce as you use it. I just find it saves time later to wash them all as soon as I bring them home from the store, especially on days when I find myself scrambling to get dinner done quick!
So I spend my time trying to keep bromide and chlorine and floride out of my iodine receptors so there can be iodine where it should be and you suggest I add chlorine bleach to soak and wash my veggies in after I avoided gmos buy or grow organic etc etc I think I will leave my jaw on the floor and stick my tongue in my cheek and certainly not take you or your advise seriously (shaking my head and snicker snorting) sincerely yours truely
Lindsey Dietz says
Meg, I totally understand your concern about bleach. This is why I provided two other alternatives. As a hypothyroid patient myself, I completely understand keeping your iodine receptors open and avoiding the bromides as much as possible. You are more than welcome to wash your produce in whatever way you feel is best for yourself and your family, and if the bleach method isn’t for you, perhaps the peroxide or vinegar is. The rest of your comment was rude and unnecessary.
Um, yeah. If you don’t like the method why bother spending the time to leave a nasty comment about it?
I work in a restaurant and we soak our onions in a natural veggie wash. The only thing it does to them is help to get the outer thin, sometimes yucky layers of skin off of them. We also use them within 24 hours of soaking, so I don’t know if it would effect long term storage of them or not. But I do know that they are still wonderfully fresh and taste great after the soak and withing at least the first 24 hours. We don’t use whole garlic, but I imagine it would do the same, simply allow for the peels to come off easier. Thanks for the great info!!
Lindsey Dietz says
I can see how the water would loosen garlic skins; peeling garlic is the pits! LOL
We use the vinegar method and have for a while now. We like it very much and have even had berries last up to a month; only once, but it was when we were beginning our journey on healthier eating and so it was very helpful. 🙂 Now we eat multiple clam shells of berries a week, along with a TON of other produce!
As far as washing the onions and garlic, we just wash them all right along with everything and they last forever! Months we’re talking here. I’m still working into onions as they were my least favorite vegetable and we always get onions in our Bountiful Basket every other week; so we have literally had a few onions (kept out of the fridge and under apples whenever possible) last for about five months!!! 🙂
I know this is a 3 yr old post, but found it while searching for cleaning vegetables. Peeling garlic is easy if 1st you slice off the stem end, then press done with the flat of a knife blade until you hear a little crunch, then the skins come off really easy. But you probably already know about this!?!
Debbie Barker says
Great idea, I am always looking for better ways to peel garlic. Not only will I be doing a more thorough job on the veggies (been thinking for a while that I need to upgrade my process) but loosening garlic and onion skins as part of the bargain? Can’t beat it! Thanks….
What about head lettuce, like iceberg?
Lindsey Dietz says
We don’t use iceburg lettuce, as it doesn’t have much nutrition, but we do use cabbage. For cabbage, I remove the outer layer or two of leaves and then soak the whole head in my peroxide/water mix. The inner layers of the head can’t really get dirty anyway, and I always buy organic for my leafy veggies. Does that answer your question?
michaela bitner says
Iceburg actually contains tons of nutrition, micro and macro nutrients of all sorts!
Many people throw away the outer leaves on their brassica’s (Cruciferous vegetables – cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc). All of these outer leaves can be eaten like kale or collard greens rather than thrown away, all though out goats appreciate them. I am amused when I see someone pulling all of the out leaves off cauliflower, for example, and throwing them away. These leaves might be on the tough side, but can be eaten.
Great article. I learned a lot. I do have one concern- after just having read a whole book on hydrogen peroxide, I have come to understand that what is sold as 3% in a drug store is NOT the food grade. There are many grades on the market but food grade can only be bought over the internet and is considered 35%. Food grade means it is consumable. 3% is not because of the other things added to it, and should not be swallowed! You can, however, use it if it is thoroughly rinsed off after soaking. As well, 3% can be used in the mouth as a rinse only.
My husband is allergic to hydrogen peroxide. We’ve been using the vinegar method for a while now. We use vinegar for almost all cleaning purposes. Now I don’t know what to do. I don’t care for the bleach method because I can’t get it rinsed well enough no matter how hard I try and it always tastes like bleach. 🙁
Lindsey Dietz says
Anna, I see your frustration. Perhaps you could do the bleach wash first and then follow up with a vinegar spray? I promise that if you don’t use too much bleach and follow the recommended soaking and rinsing times, there isn’t even the faintest smell or taste of bleach. But if you followed up with the vinegar spray, I’m sure it might ease your mind about there being any bleach left. Let us know what you decide to do, please!
Tressa, BSN, RN says
My father was a bacteriologist when he was alive. He did his research about cleaning vegetables and fruits. He came up with the following protocol. Wash all in plain water, spray both sides with vinegar, when you have all veg sprayed in vinegar, spray both sides with H2O2, wait 5 min, rinse thoroughly. Pat dry and store. We never had any food poisoning from produce treated this way. All the best to you all.
Lindsey Dietz says
Interesting, Tressa! Thanks for sharing that! Your dad was a smart guy!
I have also read the book the Healer and I agree some times all the differant info can get confusing but now I have come to the idea that the proof is in the pudding so to speak Hazel lived to 106 thats good enough for me I think as a woman its best to go with gut feeling, and Meg if you dont like the info dont do it, just go with your gut feeling,
Lindsey Dietz says
Thanks, Debbie. I tend to agree with you. 😉
I wash my produce just before using it. Learned a great way for lettuce from Dr. Ben Kim. He said to submerge the lettuce in warm water for 15 – 20 min. Then put the lettuce in cold water for about the same amount of time. The result is very crispy, fresh lettuce. I store what I don’t use in a container in the refrigerator and it stays perfect for days.
The only change I made to this method is, I add vinegar to the warm water.
Has anyone tried just soaking their veg or fruits in alkaline or acidic water to clean the pesticides and wax? That’s what I’ve been doing for the past year…
and what is your experience?
As I was reading your article, I could hardly wait to get to the comment section to read the reactions about using a mild bleach bath. They were as I expected and exactly the same comments I have received. I have used the Clorox method for many years and personally believe it’s the best way to clean store bought produce. I also use it on any store bought organics as they also have been handled often, plus now you tell me they may have legal poisons on them too!! 🙁 There has never been a bleach taste or smell left, even remotely, on any veggie or fruit and I have a very keen sense of smell and taste. Those who said the odor and taste of bleach remained may not have used a soaking rinse bath as you stated or used way too much bleach. You are so right about taking the time to clean, rinse and dry all produce as soon as it’s brought home–saves much time and hassle later. It’s amazing how much yuck it left in the cleansing soak water after 10-15 min, as your photo shows. I don’t know who came up with the adding H2O2 to a water bath method, (I see it all the time) but when hydrogen peroxide is mixed in water, the H2O2 reverts to H2O, (back to water,) so how would that kill any germs and bugs? For those who refuse the bleach, Tressa’s dad’s method (above comment) sounds excellent… to wash in water first, drain, spray on vinegar, then H2O2 (straight on the produce,) wait 5 min and rinse… the vinegar takes care of the waxes, dirt and some microbes and H2O2 kills the rest. Also, using a strong natural citrus oil sounds reasonable. I really understand your reluctance of mentioning the bleach!! HaHa! I finally quit telling anyone about it b/c the reactions were so vehement, but so very glad you were brave and offered it as one suggestion. I have found that those who have a fit over something like this are often using other things that are so much more toxic and yet have no clue, like using plastic of any kind!!!! (Hoping someone will blog about this someday and warn others) Thanks for the great article. 🙂
Lindsey Dietz says
Thank you, Kim! I knew that whole bleach thing would stir up some controversy, but I do think the method is very effective and could even be a life-saver if someone inadvertently picked up produce tainted with E. coli, salmonella, or some other nasty pathogen.
I’ve not heard that H2O2 turns back to water when it’s mixed with water. I don’t think that’s accurate because I will mix peroxide with water to clean things like tile grout, and it always bubbles when it hits the grout and cleans very effectively. As pictured in the post, it was really effective in cleaning my kale! 😉
FYI for everyone so concerned about bleach bath for produce. This is also a treatment for eczema patients. 1/2 cup in a full bath soak for 20 min. It kills the staph on the skin. Shower off. I will be trying the bleach method for sure!
Christopher de Vidal says
You can still get the salad spinner at Ikea, only now it’s $4 instead of $5. Deflation?
It’s also available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/IKEA-TOKIG-Salad-Spinner-White/dp/B005GBHE5M
I started washing my veggies in plain water with just a drop or two of GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract). I don’t know how well it does compared to these other methods. Do you have any research on this?
H2o2 is $.69/bottle & is in ingestible. Why waste your $$ using more expensive oils? I can see being iffy about bleach but not h2o2. Now that I know the ratio, I will implement vinegar and/or h2o2.
I thought I would share this article. Toward the end there is a section on washing vegetables. They site research done. https://foodrevolution.org/blog/how-to-wash-vegetables-fruits/
Thanks for sharing this info. I’ve been washing our produce in vinegar + water for a while now. I didn’t know if was supposed to be full strength. I also just found out that Heinz white vinegar is in fact GMO, so I was looking for a better solution. As the smell of bleach gives me a headache, I will switch to hydrogen peroxide.
I just also just found out that Heinz white vinegar is made from GMO corn!
A class action lawsuit against Heinz was filed in March for their misleading “all natural” labeling and marketing because it IS made from GMO corn.
I was soooo upset to discover that I have been soaking and washing ALL of my organic produce in a GMO solution of white vinegar! I switched to Bragg’s organic ACV, but I might try the hydrogen peroxide.
Beware of GMO white vinegar everyone!
Thanks you Kara for this comment. I just came home from the grocery store where I went to buy a bottle of white vinegar and saw it was made from corn. I almost gasped out loud wondering if it was made from GMO corn, now I know. Any suggestions as to an alternative I can use in my dishwasher rinse cycle?
ok, I just used the bleach solution. after I dry the fruit whats the best way to store it? baggies…paper towels… ??????
also found that even tho I was very gentle a lot of the berries just got mushy! anyone else have this problem?
Yes, I had that problem too. Some of mine were a little mushy to begin with, but they got worse after soaking. 🙁 maybe we used to much peroxide?
p.s. some how splashed bleach water on a top I just worked hard to get into 🙁
Thanks for this post. Very timely for my needs, as I’ve been pretty much a lifelong pre-packaged food consumer and am venturing much further than usual into eating fresh produce. I’ve been rinsing most fruits and vegetables under water, but need to step it up with one of your methods.
(Found via a pin on one of Food Renegade’s Pinterest boards.)
Do the bleach and h2o2 solutions remove the wax from apples, etc? Or is only the vinegar soak successful at that?
Has anyone done an experiment checking if storing cleaned produce vs not cleaned produce actually helps it stay fresh longer? Rather than just going off anecdotal information. I ask because all the info I’ve read says to only clean immediately before using. If there’s evidence that cleaning the produce when I get it home will help it last longer, I’m all for it!
Thank you for posting these different methods in one spot 🙂
tried the bleach solution 3 days ago. it took the wax off the apples. no bleach taste and my strawberries look fresher than when I bought them. my blackberries and blueberries seemed to get mushy at first but are holding up better than when not washed. I always heard not to wash till you use them too. will try some lettuce tomorrow. I am very happy with how this has worked. just a pain laying it all out to dry .
Are you not suppose to use the peroxide method on strawberries? I just soaked 6 qts of fresh picked ones and now they are super mushy. I’m really bummed.
Do you wash mushrooms this way? I’ve always been told that mushrooms absorb any liquid that they come in contact with, so some people recommend just wiping them off with a damp paper towel. I would worry that bleach water would be absorbed.
I have always added salt to a sink full of cold water to soak my leafy greens and then rinse them well. I learned this from my grandmother who lived on a farm and grew, cooked and preserved just about anything and everything. She said the salt helped to kill any insects in the greens and dislodge sand/dirt from crevices. In the past year, I’ve started using the salt and water method for all my produce (except berries and mushrooms which I just rinse before using) and find that my produce lasts well in the fridge too. And the film left in the water leaves me thinking that I’m getting a fair bit of pesticides and/or wax off the food.
How much salt do you use and how much water?
Clorox, specifically, is sodium hypochlorite.
Note, Clorox is not the same chemical as chlorine, which is added to pools or municipal water sources for drinking.
Sodium hypochlorite breaks down into 2 parts: salt and water. This precise proportion won’t leave any residue on your food or have any toxic side-effects. It is also an important part of the oxygen effect.
Read more: http://undergroundhealthreporter.com/organic-food-benefits/#ixzz3EXzoPEFh
Great info! i was wondering about these. I’m living in the DR for this year and have been using small amounts of bleach, but have found my gums are having problems. i’m not sure if this is because of the bleach or the change in water in general, so I’m going to give the peroxide method a go to see what happens. Thank you! Have you by chance heard of anyone having trouble with their gums when using the bleach method? (or other methods) Thank you!
You might want to try organic virgin coconut oil for your gums. Swish around for about 15-20 minutes (hard to do) before bedtime and then spit it out (not in the sink, it will clog the drains). This will help regenerate the gums and kill harmful bacteria in your mouth before bedtime. I have read that a very harmful mouth organism creates plaque on your teeth, gets into your stomach (and with a lack of stomach acid (a common problem for many of us)), sets up colonies in your stomach and, ultimately, in your arteries (hardening?).
I have a few thoughts about this article. First off… you are correct. Vinegar is not approved for removing pathogens, bacteria or virus off of surfaces. However, it is scientifically proven that Bleach WILL kill both bacteria and viruses on any surface. While I do not LOVE the thought of bleach being on my food…. I more than HATE the thought of picking up bacteria or viruses off of food from an unknown country of origin… OR even a known country of origin!
I think you must use common sense when dealing with food safety issues.
And since one would be throughly washing the bleach off the produce… I personally feel okay with using bleach as a cleaning solution.
I do wonder about the scientific effectiveness of peroxide? Do you know if there are truly scientific studies done with this cleaning medium to back up your assertion that it kills all harmful pathogens? (all meaning both Bacteria AND Viruses)
As a matter of curiousity…I also wonder if there are any studies on essential oils or lime extracts etc… in this manner?
I have always wondered about soaking in bleach/water. Wouldn’t the bleach get absorbed into the fruit/vegetable through the veins of the food such as celery does when soaked in water? This is the reason why I only use vinegar because I don’t want the bleach to absorb into my food regardless if I can taste it or not. I did not know about the Heinz Vinegar being GMO either. Now, I will have to switch. Thank you for your article.
Does anyone know if it is the pH level that kills the pathogens, bacteria or virus off the veggies or is it the actual chemical composition of bleach? I’m asking b/c I have an water ionizer that is part of my water filter and it can create from very acidic water up to very alkaline water. Clorox bleach is 12.7 on the pH scale and I can get the same pH range on my machine. Anyone have any experience about this or know? I’ve been using very alkaline water to clean my veg (and this was one of the selling points of the machine)… but it would be nice to hear from someone else if they agree or disagree and why. Thanks!
I use Bragg’s apple cider vinegar to wash mine. Is white vinegar better for some reason? Also, I saw a video that recommended salt & lemon juice, it said it became some kind of acid (I couldn’t understand what was said): https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=11&v=FYVgGwYeEiU
Johnny P says
1 teaspoon bleach / Gallon H2O
It is recommended a 10 to 15 minute soaking time for thicker-skinned produce like citrus fruits, apples, and bananas, and root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and turnips.
She advocated a 5 to 10 minute soaking time for thinner-skinned produce like peaches, plums, berries, and leafy vegetables. After the soaking time, produce should be placed in a fresh water rinse for five minutes, then drained well before storing in the refrigerator.
If you choose to try this cleansing soak for your produce, I encourage you to use ONLY one teaspoon of Clorox (no other brand was promoted by Dr. Parcells) bleach to one gallon of water. Follow the recommended soaking times, and make sure you rinse everything thoroughly in clean water.
If this method isn’t for you, not to worry! I understand that bleach is not eco-friendly and can be harmful to humans and animals in large enough doses. I’ve got two more great options for you that are very natural.
Option 2: 1 Tablespoon Hydrogen peroxide / gallon of water.
If I am starting with tap water filled with chemicals & chloride mixing 6 drops of bleach per gallon to purify, waiting 30 minutes then adding hydrogen peroxide to purify the veggies should work or is this too far out?
You see having to filter the water first makes a major dent in the fresh/pure water supply.
Why would you BLEACH something you are about to eat?! Bleach is way worse then 2,4D or anything else they have on there – bleach kills instantly rather then 20 years later! The worst effect of bleach is the toxic stuff it releases when it comes into contact with any organic substance. If you’re really actually worried about bacteria on produce for some reason then use thymol.
Dorinda Balanecki says
Thank you so much for this comprehensive guide on washing produce and fruits! I knew there had to be a better way then just running water from the tap.
Every TV program always tells you to “wash your fruits and veggies” but until now no one has told us HOW to wash them!
Thank you Thank You Thank you!
The reason that the veggies look and feel fresher after soaking in chloro water is because of the water restoring turgidity to the plant cells, not because of the chloro. The problem is that soaking them for 15 minutes puts the chloro in the plants, from whence it can’t escape until digested. IMO and my practice (here in Central America) is to dip them in chloro water for no more than a few seconds after washing them in tap water to get the dirt and bug life off of them. Then rinse them well with purified water.
Of course, if I am cooking them, I just wash them in any water. The cooking kills anything in them.
Dios le Bendiga.
Dorinda Balanecki says
I have recently read about and started using baking soda to wash fruits and veggies. Works great and is far less toxic
I admire you for being brave enough to write this article Lindsey! : )
I have been washing my produce in bleach water for about 15 years and am 57 years old and very healthy. I first found out about it when I read one of Ann Louise Gittleman’s books where she mentioned her support of Dr. Parcells using bleach water.
When doing my soak, I never cut my produce first. After soaking and rinsing I let my produce air dry as I was told that bleach actually evaporates when left out anyway. I was amazed at how much longer my produce lasted (due to the oxygen that the sodium hypochlorite puts in the produce) For those that are interested, this article explains what sodium hypochlorite really does. It was even given as a bath soak for people with skin diseases according to this article. Even the manufacturers use it to clean the equip that our food comes in contact with. Just DON’T EVER mix it with peroxide (see article) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_hypochlorite
There is a food safety site that states bleach is even used to clean food industry produce. See here: http://www.foodsafetysite.com/educators/competencies/consumers/produce/produce2.html
I was also told by farmers that when produce is transferred it is treated with bleach water to keep insects from coming in from one country to another.
For those that feel it is too time consuming; you don’t have to stand over the sink all day to do this. I set a timer, do my laundry and other things while it is soaking & just come back to it after about 10- 20 minutes. Gittleman’s book says to do each produce separate but I have always mixed mine, otherwise I would be at it for 8 hours as I buy about 15 different kinds of produce at a time. The chlorine is going to kill all the bugs and toxins so it’s not like it will transfer from one produce to another anyway.
As for the person that asked about mushrooms, I do soak them but not very long; I have learned over the years which produce does better with less time; mushroom & strawberries being 2 of them as they soak up water easier and will get mushy. I don’t do blueberries either as I only buy them frozen. I have also found the best way for my asparagus to last is by standing it up in my narrow Tupperware pitcher in about 1-2″ of water. This keeps the tips from getting wet & mushy but they can still drink from the water they absorb from the bottom of the pitcher; they keep for a good week this way. A man at the grocery store told me if you can’t get them eaten within a week, just cut an inch off the bottom to refresh them just like you do with a bouquet of flowers!!!
Right now I have 4 dish towels laying on my counter top with all kinds of produce drying out. Once you getting into the swing of doing it you can figure out how to make time for it; think of all the hours you sit on FB or watching TV when your produce could be soaking at the same time. : )
As for vinegar & peroxide, there is an article on line where they actually tested what was left behind after using each of them and it wasn’t as good as the bleach. I did try them years ago but found my produce didn’t hold up as well and for me it had an aftertaste.
To the person asking about damage to the gums, I agree that oil pulling might help; the best place to find natural cures is at http://www.earthclinic.com I have been using this site for years!
Regarding carrots, I find the whole ones to be bitter so I buy the baby carrots but NEVER soak them in my bleach water; I rinse them really well as some feel like they have a film on them but rinsing well removes it. If they sit in the frig for a week I just rinse them again & they are fine. Most of my produce will last up to 2 weeks in the frig after cleaning. I do clean everything all at once so I can grab and eat whenever I want & not have to worry about washing again until the next shopping trip. If I don’t do this I will never get my produce eaten & everything will be wasted.
I too use a salad spinner; 1.50 at goodwill and I’ve had it for over 10 years; the old fashioned white one that you manually spin – works like a charm & gives my arms a nice workout! Shake it up & switch directions to get it good & dry.
P.S. Just be sure you only use REGULAR Clorox, NOT the splash-less or scented; even this website tells you how to mix it to purify drinking water so obviously it isn’t going to kill us.
Lindsey Dietz says
And thank YOU for being brave enough to share your experience w/ bleach water, too!
I had read about the Clorox bath method in Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman’s Fat Flush book years ago, so thanks for sparking my interest again! One question: Do you “bathe” the foods using regular tap water? I refill my 5 gallon jugs at the health food store, so it seems like an awful amount of distilled water to waste. I would think the bleach, vinegar or H2O2 would kill most of the bacteria in tap water to make it safe to clean with.
Lindsey Dietz says
At the time that I wrote this post, yes, I was using regular tap water. I don’t think it’s practical to use filtered water for washing everything! Now, however, we are on a well, so I use well water.
My grandaughter recently told me she had heard about washing vegs. Using baking soda.
1. Does it work ?
2.what is the ratio bicarbonate to water?
3.what is soak time to rinse time ?
Researching this again, I find that Ann Louise Gittleman has replaced her recommendation with something else because Clorox changed their formula. Do you know anything about that? I have used store brand bleach in the past because the label said it was sodium hypochlorite, and that seems to be what was specified. I haven’t bought branded Clorox in a long time so I don’t know what the label says.
Here’s what Gittleman recommended most recently:
Here’s the explanation of the original Clorox method:
After getting very sick from eating grapes not washed well I never ever eat any fruit or vegetables without the Clorox bath. However, I wash them for only a few minutes before thoroughly rinsing them. I also wash anything that needs to be peeled – dirty hands can leave nasty things on the skins of fruit. Fruit that I only wash right before eating are strawberries. They absorb whatever moisture is on their skins in the wink of an eye and loose their taste. So, right before consuming them just rinse very well in cold water and quickly dry them thoroughly using paper towels.
I found this late… 3/29/2020 … during the CORONA virus. The bleach water mix will work and is recommended by John Hopkins University. I was using vinegar water, but JHU states vinegar is ineffective. I don’t know about hydrogen peroxide. But my main take away from the JHU literature is that the virus is not a living organism. It is a protein encased in a fatty acid coating, so anything that would break down a layer of fat and expose the virus is effective, hence the recommendation to wash hands in warm soapy water. Chemicals like bleach are also effective. Thank you for this information as I was just recently thinking how best to prepare my leafy greens for my smoothies!
It makes sense to make this a permanent habit for reasons you discuss in your opening paragraphs. The water we use today is not the same water our grandparents used! Come home from grocery shopping and just plan to make a bleach water bath then and there. Clean everything at once so it’s ready for the week ahead.
Thanks for the article and the comments. While living in Mexico, I always washed all produce that came into the house with Microdyn, figuring that there would be no cross-contamination in the fridge. Now back in Canada, dealing with Covid-19 issues, I was searching for Microdyn here, and cannot find it, so came across your article. Once I run out of Microdyn, I will switch to bleach. Interestingly, once while travelling inside of Mexico in another town, went searching for Microdyn, and could not find it anywhere. I finally asked a clerk in a supermarket what she did, and she was using a bleach soak as Microdyn was too expensive. I am careful to time the soak especially with tender stuff like lettuce, and as someone put it, put on your timer, and do other stuff while soaking.
Jeanette Sherer says
Hi Lindsey, great tips! I would like to add 1 more; just don’t wash produce until immediately prior to use. This way, you can keep it tasting fresh for longer.
Hello thank u for this article it’s very helpful! I just am curios which of these ways will be most successful in killIng worms/parasites & there larvae/eggs?
Does washing veggies in the bleach wash solution ruin the fermentation process if I’m trying to ferment the veggies I’m washing in the bleach water?
Great article, I always wash fruit and vegs before eating but seldom let them sit in a “waterbath”. I always use a drop of dawn to a sink full of water and a vegetable brush on thicker skinned produce. I always rinse everything very well and have never had any problems, However I will be washing it with 1 teaspoon of bleach now after reading the article. Thank you
With Covid 19, this is very valuable information. I can only imagine people grocery shopping who are asymptomatic. I have my groceries I delivered, which I am very thankful for. Typically I grow my own vegetables but during winter, there are some things I still have to buy. I kept thinking, if I swallow pool water and live to tell about it, what is the harm in washing my veggies in diluted – very diluted bleach water? It makes sense, but every other article said not to. My guess, they don’t want some idiot who can’t follow directions using straight or too strong of a bleach solution and poisoning themselves. Just think about how many people instinctively LICK their fingers to open those cellophane veggie bags to put their produce in. We have all done it, and normally no biggie. THEN they TOUCH the produce and MAY NOT put the first one they touch in the bag.. then you come along and buy it. If they are sick, you have innocently been exposed.
I have used the clorox bath for years, based on Hazel Parcell’s directions. I read through your article and all the comments, and have an update for you all!
I just phoned the Clorox company, spoke with a lovely and helpful customer service person, and asked if the original formula was still available and was told no, it is now discontinued permanently. I asked for updated ratios, since the one with cloromax is the only plain disinfectant now available for me locally. The new directions are 1/2 teaspoon to 1 gallon water, soak for 2 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
This makes sense to me, since it says it’s ‘concentrated’. I’ve been using the full teaspoon up till now – oy! – but I’m still walking and talking, and my leafy greens (pretty much the only thing I soak, for 10 minutes) never taste of clorox so I guess I haven’t done huge harm….
Ann Louise Gittleman has an article that addresses the changes to the Clorox formula. (It is in keeping with Ruth’s instruction just above.)
She also explains that it has great cleansing and healing properties when diluted and used properly. It is a naturopathic, oxygenating salt bath that has been used for over 75 years.
Can someone recommend which bleach to use? I have been looking all over supermarkets, targets and Walmart but only see the kind that has “cloromax”. Is this one ok? It’s not the spashless/splash-less kind. There is also the concentrated version as well. I have not seen just good old “original formula”. If you can also recommend where to buy it from, it’s very much appreciated. Thanks so much!