Photo: How to wash fruits and vegetables

Wash produce before eating, NOT before storing, to prevent rot. (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

Lots of people touch, sniff and sneeze on produce — from the farm to the grocery store. So even if you're enjoying organic and local farmers market fruit and veggies, you're bound to encounter dirt and germs (and some pesticide residues) from all the caring hands it passes through.

But don't buy fancy produce washes. Make your own! It's cheaper and avoids plastic containers.

Tip: Wash produce before eating, NOT before storing (which will make it rot faster).

Tip: Firm-skinned produce, such as melons and citrus fruits, needs warm water, a scrub and rinse. Soft-skinned produce, such as strawberries or grapes, needs a soak for a few minutes.

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Five ways to wash fruits and vegetables

Eco-friendly liquid soap

Choose a simple, unscented, liquid castile soap. Add a squirt to a sink full of water. It's just like washing your hands to remove germs!

Eco-friendly dish soap

Use what you have with water, such as unscented and antibacterial-free dish soap, which meets these criteria.


Fill a sink with warm water and add plain white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar), one part vinegar to four parts water. Soak, then rinse.

Vegetable glycerin

It's a plant-derived, simple cleanser found at organic grocers or health food stores. Use with water to scrub produce. Rinse. Note: Add a squirt to a 500 ml spray bottle.

Soap nuts

Stir a few soap nuts into water to release the natural saponins in their shells. Make the solution as needed. Note: Soap nuts can be used a few times before composting — maybe do a load of laundry?

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

June 9, 2015

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Jul 07, 2015
4:21 AM

What are “soap nuts”? And where do I get them?

Jun 16, 2015
8:29 AM

Castile soap or soap nuts as far as I know are not available in England.Can you give me an equivalent substance to use as I really want to make sure we are not ingesting chemicals Thank you

Jun 15, 2015
6:20 PM

I have tried using soap nuts in my laundry and found them to be ineffective. Is there a way to improve the odds of them working?

Jun 15, 2015
5:38 PM

I am wondering about the regular white vinegar. It is made from ? GMO corn?

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