Photo: How to wash fruits and vegetables

It’s easy to clean fruit and vegetables.

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 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.

Five ways to wash fruits and vegetables

  1. 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!
  2. Eco-friendly dish soap — Use an unscented, dye-free and antibacterial-free dish soap with water.
  3. Vinegar — 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.
  4. Vegetable glycerin — It's a plant-derived, simple cleanser found at organic grocers or health food stores. Use with water to scrub produce. Rinse.
  5. 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.

By Lindsay Coulter, David Suzuki's Queen of Green