How to Make Fruit and Vegetable Wash with What’s Already in Your Kitchen

updated Dec 27, 2023
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

While it’s tempting to eat fresh produce straight out of the grocery bag, please don’t! Commercial produce sanitation is up to speed, but most of our own produce-handling practices are not: That piece of fruit has likely been touched by many hands before it got into your cart — unwashed hands, like those of my young children. For that, I apologize (and suggest you wash your fruits and vegetables before eating them).

While store-bought veggie washes have not been proven to be as effective as we’d like them to be (here’s more on whether packaged veggie washes are actually worth it), you might not be comfortable just running your produce under cold water, per the FDA’s recommendations for cleaning vegetables. If that’s the case, consider making your own fruit and vegetable wash to loosen debris, remove pesticides, and eliminate some of the bacteria that other grocery shoppers passed on to your produce.

Below, learn how to make your own wash for fruits and vegetables — for both the standard fruits and veggies, and for leafy greens, which should be cleaned separately.

How to Make Your Own Fruit and Vegetable Wash

This recipe calls for vinegar, a popular ingredient in DIY cleaning solutions. Although some people use vinegar as a disinfectant, it is not registered as an official disinfectant and does not kill dangerous bacteria like staphylococcus. That said, vinegar is acidic, which makes it a potent cleaner.

What You’ll Need

  • Spray bottle
  • Measuring cup and spoons
  • Colander
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Water
  • Lemon juice
  • Gentle scrub brush
  • Paper towels

Instructions for DIY fruit and vegetable wash

Credit: Joe Lingeman
  1. Make your solution: To clean most fruits and vegetables, mix a solution of 1 cup vinegar to 4 cups water inside your spray bottle. Then, add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Shake well to combine.
Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Spray your produce: Place your fruit or vegetable in a colander in the sink. Spray it liberally with the mixture, then let it sit for 2 to 5 minutes.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Rinse: Rinse off the mixture thoroughly with cool water, using a vegetable scrub brush on thicker-skinned produce.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Dry: Pat dry with paper towels.

How to Make Vegetable Wash for Leafy Greens

What You’ll Need

  • Glass or metal bowl
  • Measuring cup and spoons
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Colander or a salad spinner
  • Paper towels

Instructions for DIY leafy green wash

Credit: Joe Lingeman
  1. Make your solution: Place your greens into a clean glass or metal bowl. Fill the bowl with a solution of 1 cup vinegar to 4 parts water, then add a tablespoon of salt.
Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Soak your greens: Let the greens sit in the solution for 2 to 5 minutes, then remove.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Rinse: Rinse off the mixture thoroughly with cold water either in a colander or the basket of a salad spinner.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Dry: Dry the greens with paper towels or give them a run through a salad spinner. It’s recommended to do this right before you eat the greens, since any excess moisture can lead to decay in the fridge.