Make Your Own Veggie and Fruit Wash

person washes large fresh mango under running water in kitchen sink

Treehugger / Vanina Howan

Fight food contamination by taking the time to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating. Here are some easy and cheap ways to do it at home.

It’s important to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating. Many are contaminated with bacteria, which contributes in part to the estimated 9 million people who get sick each year from eating dirty food in the United States. Washing can dissolve wax coatings, get rid of pesticide residues, and reduce the presence of bacteria. Learn how to make your own simple veggie and fruit washes at home:

Using vinegar

Vinegar is a natural disinfectant. Combine equal parts white vinegar and water. Spray onto hard-skinned fruits and vegetables, rub it in, and rinse; or place in a bowl and soak soft-skinned fruits for 1-2 minutes before rinsing.

Using lemon

Fill a bowl or sink with cool water. Dissolve 1⁄4 cup salt, then add juice of 1⁄2 lemon. Separate leaves of cabbage and florets of broccoli or cauliflower. Soak produce for 10 minutes, then rinse.

Using baking soda

In a bowl, combine 1 cup water, 1 cup white vinegar, 1 tbsp baking soda, and 20 drops grapefruit seed extract. Transfer to a spray bottle. Spray onto produce (no mushrooms) and let sit 5-10 minutes before rinsing. You can also shake a bit of baking soda onto the surface of a hard-skinned fruit or vegetable and rub in with a bit of water; the abrasion will remove residue and wax.

Using essential oil

Add 10-20 drops of lemon essential oil to a sink full of cold water. Let produce soak for 10 minutes, then rinse.

Leafy Green Wash

Combine 3 cups water and 1 cup white vinegar in a bowl. Soak leafy greens for 2-5 minutes. (You can add a handful of ice cubes to recrisp leaves, if necessary.) Drain, rinse, and dry.

Germ Buster

Add 2 tsp hydrogen peroxide to a full sink of water. Leave items to soak for 20 minutes. Rinse well.

Liquid detergent

If you’re in a rush, squeeze a drop of non-toxic dish detergent onto hard-skinned produce, such as apples or carrots. Rub well and rinse thoroughly.


It’s OK if all you’ve got is water. Just use lots of elbow grease (and maybe even a scrub brush) to make sure you’re scouring the surface of the produce thoroughly.

Extra Pointers:

Be sure to dry produce with a clean cloth, and to use a clean knife and cutting board. Cut away any blemishes and rotten spots that could harbor bacteria. Wash fruits and vegetables even if you don’t eat the rinds or peels, such as oranges, melons, and winter squash, since contamination can get transferred to the inside as you cut.