How should I clean fruits and vegetables before eating?

Chad Kramer
Chad Kramer on behalf of dotFIT
Make sure that you are washing both vegetables and fruits separately from fresh cuts of meat, eggs, etc., in order to avoid cross contamination. Rinse fruits and vegetables with warm water to remove dirt and pesticides. While rinsing with warm water, use a brush and scrub the fruits and vegetables for approximately 10 seconds each. If you wish for a more thorough cleaning, soak them for a few hours in water.

White vinegar may also be used to further disinfect fruits and vegetables naturally. Mix 1 part vinegar with 3 parts water, scrub with a brush and rinse thoroughly with warm water.
Christie Korth
Nutrition & Dietetics
The best way to remove clean and remove wax and pesticides from produce is to:
  • Fill your sink with water. 
  • Add 1/4 cup of vinegar.
  • Allow to soak for 15 minutes. 
This method is more effective than the veggie washes sold in health food stores.

Your best bet is to buy organic produce that does not use pesticides or herbicides and will be easier to wash.

Remember, even a thorough wash does not remove some of the chemicals which can seep inside of vulnerable fruits and vegetables, like strawberries.
Frances Largeman-Roth, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
The best way to wash produce depends on the fruit or veggie. Watch this video featuring registered dietitian Frances Largeman-Roth to learn which produce is best washed right away and which should be swished seconds before eating.
Marco Di Buono
Nutrition & Dietetics
The best way to clean vegetables prior to eating is to rinse them in nothing more than cold water.

Health authorities like Health Canada, for example, recommend washing vegetables under fresh, cool running water even if you plan to peel them, and to use a produce brush for foods with a firm surface.

For more information visit the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Information at or Health Canada's website at
Doreen Rodo
Nutrition & Dietetics

It is important to rinse all fruits and vegetables before using them, including bagged salads. Scrub the outside of vegetables like cantaloupe, potatoes, cucumbers, apples or other skinned items with a soft brush, under running water. Rinse items like berries, cherry tomatoes, cherries, and lettuce in a strainer under running water, gently shaking them for better distribution.

Sarah Krieger
Nutrition & Dietetics
Whether the fruit you eat is grown in your garden, is organic from the farmer's market or is purchased in the grocery store, it is best to wash all fruit under cool water before eating. This of course is after hands are washed. Other people touch fruit before buying, so assume that and wash and then dry. It is not necessary to use soap, but a gentle scrub with a hand or dish brush is fine as well to reduce the bacteria on the outside of the fruit: especially melons, which grow in the dirt. For berries and cherries just rinse; scrubbing will damage the outside.

Continue Learning about Cooking & Health

Cooking & Health

Cooking & Health

Most Americans don't prepare meals from scratch, and many eat out frequently. Reconnecting with food by cooking it can improve not only taste but health. How you cook can make a difference not only to taste, but nutrition. Boiling ...

broccoli or cabbage can destroy antioxidants. Microwaving or cooking on a griddle can preserve them. Stir-frying can be a good, quick way to prepare food too. Frozen and fresh vegetables have similar nutrient levels (not always similar taste). Canned foods do not. Some foods require adequate cooking time to ensure safety. If you think you don't have time to cook, a little planning can go a long way. Veggies may be pre-cut when time permits, and beans or pasta can be prepared in advance without loss of flavor or nutritional value. Many recipes may be modified to lower fat or sugar variations.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.