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Last updated: November 14, 2022
It’s usually best to buy organic, but if you’re unable to, read on to learn how to remove pesticides from fruits and vegetables with this handy guide.
In recent years, we have become much more aware of the need to avoid pesticides. Similarly, there has also been a significant increase in organic food sales.
Every year the EWG publishes the Dirty Dozen of fruits and vegetables most contaminated by pesticides which further encourages us to either go organic or to put more effort into cleaning our produce before consuming.
Some of these foods, however, are either too expensive to buy organic or too difficult to grow yourself. So, let’s have a look at how we can best remove pesticides from produce to keep our fruits and vegetables as clean as possible.
5 Ways to Remove Pesticides
Use one or more of the following five ways to remove unwanted pesticides from your fruits and greens.
1. Use Plain Water (With Salt)
This may sound a bit simplistic, but by simply thoroughly washing our fruits and vegetables with warm water, you can remove quite a fair bit of pesticides that may be present.
The issue is that many people don’t actually wash at all or don’t do this properly. I used to be like that too until I decided to pay more attention to it.
To make the cleaning process even more effective, adding some salt is a good idea. The best way to do this is to soak your produce in a bucket (or in the sink) with a 10% salt water solution for about 20 minutes.
Some people even add a tiny bit of detergent or dish soap to help with the cleaning, but I wouldn’t recommend this.
While that may certainly be effective, the risk is that traces of detergent or soap may get trapped or absorbed by the produce, which is not what we want.
2. Use Vinegar
Vinegar works wonders for removing bacteria and can also help break down unwanted wax you often see on fruits like apples.
The best way to use vinegar to wash your fruit and vegetables is to use 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water.
Get a bottle of vinegar with a spray top and spray your fruit and vegetables. After spraying, rinse carefully under a water tap.
For a better result, leave your fruit and vegetables soaking in a vinegar/water solution for 10-20 minutes and then rinse.
Here is a simple DIY recipe to make a produce cleaner with vinegar:
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 cup water
Put this in a spray-topped bottle and start cleaning. Works fantastic!
3. Use a Commercial Fruit Cleaner
You can also use one of the many commercial fruit cleaners that are available online or in grocery stores.
These cleaners can typically remove pesticides, wax, and 99.9% of unwanted bacteria. Make sure, though, to pick a product with natural ingredients and avoid ammonia-based cleaners.
This Veggie Wash product is highly recommended:
- WASH WELL, BE WELL: Fruit and veggie wash removes wax, soil, agricultural...
- ZERO AFTERTASTE: Easily breaks down waxes and removes contaminants without...
- SAFE INGREDIENTS: Kosher Certified and Vegan, made with vegetable-derived...
4. Use Baking Soda
You can make your own produce cleaner recipe with baking soda as a core ingredient.
Here is a good recipe that works for me:
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of baking soda
- 1 cup / 250ml water
Spray your fruit and vegetables with this little homemade mixture, let it soak in for 5 minutes, and then rinse well with water.
As you can see, these homemade cleaners are very easy to prepare, and they are very effective too.
This one may sound too obvious, but peeling fruits is still a very effective way to remove pesticides.
Most fruits can best be peeled, which works great with apples, pears, nectarines, peaches, and so many other fruits.
Make sure you wash the fruits before peeling; otherwise, you can still transfer pesticides and bacteria onto the flesh.
I must admit, though, I do prefer to eat fruit with the skin because the skin is often the most nutritious part of the fruit. As such, I typically use one of the other ways to remove pesticides from my fruits.
Pros and cons of organic food.
You would be surprised how contaminated some of our favorite fruits and vegetables are. While there are undoubtedly good reasons for using pesticides in farming, this doesn’t mean we should just ignore them.
There are many effective and affordable ways to wash pesticides off fruits and vegetables. If you don’t eat organic, make a habit of cleaning your fresh produce, especially if you’re eating lots of fruits and greens that are on the dirty dozen list.
Do note, though, that organic farming may also involve the use of some pesticides, but it’s far more limited and regulated. Pesticides in organic food are mostly produced or extracted from natural sources.