Vegetables on a counter with mesh bags in front of a white backsplash

How to Wash Your Produce With Vinegar & Other Natural Cleaners

Last Updated: June 21, 2022

Read on for our two cents on how to best clean your fruits and veggies with vinegar and other natural cleaners so they're safe to eat and will last a little longer on the shelf.

There are few things more satisfying than knowing where one's food comes from. For those who eat from their garden, the journey of one's produce can truly be a farm-to-table affair.

More often than not, however, the path of our produce is lengthier and handsier—with more points of contact and a greater chance of contamination.

So how can we best clean and elongate the shelf life of our produce? Read on for our two cents on how to best clean your fruits and veggies with vinegar and other natural cleaners so they're safe to eat and will last a little longer on the shelf.

Is it dangerous to eat produce without washing it?

Woman and daughter cooking together in the kitchen

From contact with wildlife to pesticides, chemical exposure, and the many hands that helped your food get to market, your produce needs to be washed before eating.

If you don’t wash your fruit and product, you run the risk of coming in contact with harmful bacteria such as E. Coli, Salmonella, and Listeria according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Grove Tip

What about organic produce? Do you have to wash it?

Although fewer and less harmful chemicals are allowed in the growing of organic produce, there are still 25 approved synthetic chemicals as outlined by the National Organic Program, the regulatory framework governing organic food production in the United States.

Additionally, contact with animals and unclean hands and surfaces are additional reasons to wash and sanitize your fruits and veggies before eating them.

Tools you'll need:

Tools you’ll need:

There are a number of ways to wash your produce:

Close-up image of packaged vegetables at a market
  • With plain water
  • Using a homemade vinegar solution* or a pre-prepared one such as Aunt Fannie's Produce Wash
  • A combination of both water and a vinegar solution, which is what we'll be going over below!

*Homemade vinegar solution

Combine the following ingredients in a large bowl for soaking your produce. Scale this recipe, keeping the same proportions, for sanitizing greater quantities at a time.

  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 1 cup of lemon juice
  • 3 cups of water
Aunt Fannie's Produce Wash on napkin next to bowl of strawberries

Aunt Fannie's Produce Wash

If you aren't the DIY type, check out Aunt Fannie’s Produce Wash which combines all of these ingredients for you in one easy spray bottle.

Add 4 ounces of Aunt Fannie’s Produce Wash to a gallon of water, and soak the produce for two minutes. Swish it around, then rinse it thoroughly with water.

You can also make a spray with 1 tablespoon of wash in 16 ounces of water. Spray it on your vegetables and fruits, rub or scrub, and rinse with water.

How to wash your fruits and vegetables: Step-by-step

How to wash produce with a tough exterior (root vegetables, melons, pineapple, cucumber, etc.):

  • Run items under cool water while scrubbing with a soft-bristle produce brush
  • Peel/remove the outer layer of your produce, if desired
  • Soak produce in a homemade or pre-prepared vinegar solution for 5-10 minutes
  • Rinse with fresh water to remove any potential vinegar aftertaste and smell
  • Lay items out on a clean towel to dry or dry items individually by hand

How to wash leafy greens

  • Pick through and remove any wilted, inedible leaves
  • Remove the outermost layer for items such as radicchio, cabbage, and lettuce
  • Agitate greens in a homemade or pre-prepared vinegar solution and allow to soak for 5-10 minutes
  • Rinse with fresh water then pat dry with a clean towel or dry with the help of a salad spinner

How to wash soft fruits (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, etc.)

  • Fill a bowl with a homemade or pre-prepared vinegar solution and soak fruits using a colander or strainer for 5-10 minutes
  • Refill your bowl with fresh water and dip items a few times to remove any potential vinegar aftertaste or smell
  • Lay out on a clean towel to air dry
  • For storing, line a food container with a fresh paper towel and then transfer items to your fridge

Quick tip: Store your soft fruits in an airtight container, like Le Parfait, to get them to last a little bit longer.

How to wash edible fungi (mushrooms)

White mushrooms, such as buttons and creminis, can be cleaned according to the soft fruits instructions above.

Other more absorbent, gill-heavy varieties (such as morel, chanterelle, oyster, portobello, and shiitake mushrooms) are best tackled by wiping them down using a clean paper towel and small amounts of vinegar solution.

A few more tips to keep in mind before washing produce:

  • Wait to wash fruits and vegetables until right before consumption to extend the life of your produce; moisture and exposure can cause earlier spoilage.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands (before and after handling produce) as well as surfaces and utensils throughout to avoid cross-contamination during preparation.
  • Cut away any bruised, rotting, or inedible parts before cleaning.
  • If peeling or removing an outer layer, wash it first as bacteria and contaminants can find their way into interior parts you'll be consuming.

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