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How to clean fruits and vegetables in vinegar

This article explains the right technique to clean fruits and vegetables using vinegar. It is very safe to use and at the same time, acetic acid present in it helps to get rid of most of the pesticides and bacteria present on the produce.


Most of us are falling ill and suffering from various diseases because of consumption of contaminated food. Pesticides and harmful chemicals are sprayed on fruits and vegetables to protect them from bacteria and other organisms. If we do not clean them properly before consuming then pesticides, germs and dirt present on them do a lot of damage to our body. Consuming fresh produce is a key to remaining healthy. However, consuming a large number of pesticides along with dirt in the form of soil does more harm to our health than any good. Pesticides can cause cancer and damage our vital organs. Vinegar is a very important product which can very well solve this problem. It will not only kill bacteria but also remove most of the pesticides from the produce and will make it safe to consume. It is easily available in the market and not very expensive. Its acidic nature makes it more effective in cleaning fruits and vegetables.

Produce with stickers and cuts

Many fruits come with a sticker attached to them. Remove the sticker and properly clean that area so that all the adhesive glue comes out. If a sticker is not removed before rinsing of produce with water and removed later then that portion will remain unclean. Any bruised area or cuts present on the surface of produce should be removed before rinsing of washing them. This will prevent entry of germs from a bruised area into the inner portion of the produce.

Water and vinegar solution

Take distilled white vinegar about a cup and to that add 4 cups of plain water. Mix the solution properly and soak produce in it for 10-15 minutes. Later remove the produce and give it a rinse in cold running water.

Vinegar and lemon solution

Lemon itself is effective in killing germs and mixing vinegar and lemon together can result in the production of a much more effective solution. This is because the acidity of this solution is higher than water and vinegar solution. This solution can kill large amounts of bacteria. It can even kill E. coli.


  • Rinsing or soaking in vinegar alters taste a little.

  • Since vinegar is strong in nature, it changes the texture of fruits and vegetables which get soaked in it.

  • It damages porous outer-peel of fruits like berries.


  • It decreases the number of bacteria which are adhered to produce.

  • It removes a large number of pesticides.

  • It prevents berries from molding within a few days.

Get rid of soil before vinegar treatment

Before treating fruits and vegetables with vinegar and water solution, it is very important to get rid of soil that is attached. Presence of soil will deteriorate effectiveness of acetic acid present in the vinegar. Once all the soil and organic matter are removed either by rinsing method or soaking method then subject produce to the vinegar water solution. Soaking method is best when it comes to getting rid of soil from the produce.

Cleaning produce having smooth outer surface

Fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, plums, apples, grapes all have very smooth outer surface. Excessive cleaning or scrubbing cannot be done in cases of this produce. If done then not only will skin get ruptured, but fruit too becomes mushy and looks crushed. Take a spray bottle and fill it with vinegar and water in the ratio of 1:3. Use this spray bottle to coat the vinegar solution on the outer surface of produce which needs to be cleaned. Let the solution remain there for 30-45 seconds and then wipe it with a paper napkin. Rinse produce under running water to get rid of vinegar solution. Use fingers to clean the smooth outer surface of produce to rinse away all the vinegar solution that was sprayed. Do not use any scrubber.

Cleaning produce having rough outer surface

Rough-skinned fruits and vegetables are difficult to clean and need to be scrubbed hard to get rid of all the pesticides and soil that has contaminated them. Also, scrubbing will not do any damage to them. Instead of spraying 1:3 vinegar and water solution, they need to be soaked in this solution for some time. Green leafy vegetables should be cut off from their root portion as their root portion carries lots of soil. Separate leaves from one another and soak in this effective solution to ensure proper cleaning. The same procedure should be followed for cleaning cabbage. Some examples of rough-skinned fruits and vegetables are potatoes, watermelons, cabbage, broccoli etc. After soaking for some time, remove the soaked produce. Make use of vegetable scrubber and scrub outer portion of the produce. Scrubbing will make sure that produce has been cleaned properly. Next, rinse it under cold, running water and then dry it using a paper towel or clean cloth.

Precautions to be taken with produce

Do not expose produce, especially afterf they are rinsed to non-vegetarian items like poultry, eggs, fishes, meat etc as these products may be contaminated with bacteria. Storing them along with rinsed produce means that we are exposing produce to get contaminated with bacteria. Even produce which has thick rind needs to be cleaned properly with water. The best example is melons. Though they have a very stony rind, still they need proper cleaning. Bananas, on the other hand, are never cleaned with water. This is because we feel that its skin is too thick to pass contamination to the inner fruit. However, it is not true. Even banana has to be rinsed under running water before consuming. Vegetables like spinach, tomatoes, and lettuce are also seen as causes of an outbreak of foodborne illnesses. Thus, no vegetable or fruit can be taken lightly when it comes to washing or cleaning them before consumption.

Maintain cleanliness

Kitchen sink which we use for rinsing or soaking purpose should be kept clean. Sink or colander which we often use to wash our fruits and vegetables if left unclean will result in bacterial contamination of our produce. Regularly clean kitchen sink by mixing water with chlorine bleach. Pour down warm water regularly through the drainage hole of the sink.


Vinegar is a very effective product to clean produce and get rid of all the harmful pesticides which are sprayed on it. Vinegar makes it dirt and germ-free. It is very safe to use and produce which gets cleaned using it usually sparkle as it gets rid of all the wax and layers which were applied to them. Soaking produce for 5-10 minutes is enough. When cleaning soft-skinned produce, a mist sprayed on its outer surface is sufficient. Do not forget to rinse produce with clean, running water to get rid of the acidic taste of vinegar. A ratio of 1:3 has to be maintained between vinegar and water. A small amount of vinegar in a large amount of water is not going to do any good. The temperature of the water should match the temperature of the produce which we wish to clean. If there are varieties of fruits and vegetables which need to be cleaned then it is better to clean them separately. Make sure to get rid of soil from the produce before treating it with vinegar. Make use of this wonderful vinegar which is easily available in each and every house and treat fresh produce either bought from a store or plucked from one's own garden or farm to make it free from contamination and enjoy good health. Learn many more such techniques to clean fruits and vegetables by going through How to clean fruits and vegetables by rinsing method and Soaking method.

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Author: Natarajan26 Dec 2017 Member Level: Gold   Points : 2

Nice write-up about using vinegar to clean the fruits and vegetables. Washing bananas, certainly many people like me would not know. I thought bananas are safe fruits when on the move. We peel the skin, do not touch the inner fruit apart from nipping of the top end if the pulp is exposed and then leaving a small bit behind at the tail end. Many parents peel the banana and then give it to the child whose hands may not be clean often. we should make then learn to peel it themselves as they eat to minimize the contamination chances.

Some people are in the habit of washing fruits and vegetable once they bring it home. It is better to wash just before using them and not before storing them (especially if using this 1:3 vinegar water solution).

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