Organic Washes for Produce: What are they? Do they work?

Published on 18 January 2024 at 11:59

Organic Washes for Produce…What are they? Do they work?


I’ve always washed my fruits and produce.  Even when I’ve grown them right at home.  It’s just a natural thing to do when you bring your harvest in; whether by garden, farm market or grocery store.  So, I rinse them in water.  But since I’ve started getting serious about going organic, I began to wonder if my quick rinses were enough.   As some readers have pointed out, just going organic doesn’t mean you need not worry about washing your produce.  Pesticides and other things can be in the air, in the soil.  You can also not knowingly buy something that has pesticides on it. 


Pesticides are not good for us.  Agricultural pesticides have been linked to diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, birth defects, reproductive problems and more. Licensed pesticide applicators who used chlorinated pesticides on more than 100 days in their lifetime have been found to be at greater risk of diabetes, according to researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  It has been documented that the average lifespan of a migrant worker in the United States is under 50 years old.  And in another example, glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular weed killer Roundup is a known carcinogen and endocrine disrupter.


So washing is important, right?  The answer is yes.  Washing all fruits and vegetables before you eat them is always a good practice.  It depends on how and when you do it to effectively remove residual pesticides.  First off, you need to wash it far longer than you think. quick rinses just weren’t cutting it.  Soaking is key, experts say.  You don’t need to buy expensive cleaners though.  Some good cleaners you have already on hand are salt, baking soda or vinegar.  A study from Food Control found that soaking for 20 minutes in a 10% solution of any of these three eliminated residues of common pesticides far more than just washing in water.  It works pretty well and can remove up to 88% of chemical residue. 


Here’s an easy and effective recipe to try:

Fill up a large sink tub with six cups of cold water and add:

 2 cups of distilled white vinegar

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Optionally, you can add tea tree, lemon or grapefruit essential oil, 20 drops

Mix it all well.  Let items soak for 20 minutes, rinse and let air dry.  And thoroughly wash your tub or scrubbers when done.


More simply, you can use a vinegar solution of 10% vinegar to 90% water or 10% baking soda to 90% water and let soak 20 minutes and then rinse and air dry.  For salt water, add 1 teaspoon salt for every cup of water in warm water.  Let water cool, then soak your produce for 30 minutes.


There are other things you can do too.  By peeling the skins of your vegetables and fruits you get rid of the parts where most pesticides are found, the skin.  Most processing methods also help; canning, blanching, freezing or fermenting.  But shockingly, they found that dehydrating and drying merely concentrated the chemicals!  if you like to dehydrate, make sure to buy organic and thoroughly clean before dehydrating. It is even more important to be vigilant here.


We can’t be perfect or 100% safe, and it doesn’t do any of us any good to stay stressed out about it, but if we have the knowledge, we can help ourselves and our families a lot.  If you want to become more involved, there are two organizations that share your concerns; What Is Beyond Pesticides? — Beyond Pesticides  A non-profit organization that works to protect public health and the environment by leading the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides and Pesticides Reduction ( A non-profit organization that uses science, law, and creative media to protect the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive. 


It's a journey when you begin to be more focused on eating clean.  Take it one step at a time---and soak, soak, soak!  See you next week.


*PS Here’s the update on my hair loss I reported some months ago.  The tea tree essential oil is working!  Hair is not as full and thick as before, but it is growing back.  My tea tree saved me again!  But here’s a warning; to animals and pets tea tree is neuro-toxic and can cause seizures and death, so make sure to keep this essential oil away from them and wash hands carefully before touching or petting them.  For us, in moderation it is very healing.



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Rebecca E. Maggard
4 months ago

I wash my fruit and veggies, then spray with hydrogen peroxide , let sit then rinse.
I need to try some of these ideas.