4 DIY Homemade Fruit and Vegetable Wash Recipes

If you’re looking for a safe and cost-effective way to clean your vegetables, you’ve come to the right place. There are many benefits to using a homemade vegetable cleaner, which is made from natural alternatives to chemical cleaners.

Homemade vegetable wash in spray bottle with tomatoes and leafy greens

Compared to commercial produce wash, a DIY fruit and vegetable wash will save you money and get those vegetables clean.

What About Cold Tap Water?

The FDA says to clean your produce under cold running tap water while gently rubbing with your hands (or a brush when it’s called for). And this is what I usually do. I believe it does a good job in most cases.

Why Use a Fruit and Vegetable Wash At All?

There are two main reasons I know of. First, some people just don’t trust the cold water routine. And that’s fine. Second, even if you trust the cold water routine, you may occasionally run into something that won’t come off your produce with just water.

For example, grocery stores like to put some kind of wax and sometimes stickers on fruit. Sometimes I feel like I can’t get all of the adhesive off from the stickers or all of the wax off with just water and hand-rubbing.

This homemade fruit and veggie wash will do the trick, and without adding more chemicals to what you were already trying to get off your produce.

The Benefits of Using a Homemade Fruit and Veggie Wash

Homemade vegetable cleaners offer several advantages over store-bought cleaners. Here are the main benefits:

  1. No weird chemicals: Homemade vegetable cleaners are simple. They don’t have any of the unpronounceable chemicals  that can be found in store-bought cleaners, so you know what you’re getting.
  2. They work! These recipes really do get rid of stubborn dirt, pesticides, and bacteria from your fruits and veggies. 
  3. Cost-Effectiveness: Making your own vegetable cleaner is much cheaper than buying expensive produce cleaners.

1. Vinegar homemade fruit and vegetable wash

This is the simplest homemade vegetable wash you can make (and my favorite). Diluted vinegar is a very good natural cleaning agent. It’s powerful enough to remove dirt, bacteria, and pesticides from fruits and vegetables, but gentle enough not to damage the produce in the process. 

The acidity of vinegar helps to break down any residue or waxy coatings on produce, which I know I don’t want to be eating. 

While vinegar isn’t actually a disinfectant, it does have antimicrobial properties that can kill bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella. And it’s environmentally-friendly.

How to Make it:

Take 1 part distilled white vinegar and one part water. Put it in a spray bottle.

How to Use It:

You can spray it onto hard skinned fruits and veggies (apples, potatoes, carrots, avocados). Rub them around in it with your hands and then rinse them under cool tap water. 

For softer fruits and vegetables (tomatoes, berries, leafy greens, and broccoli), put the same mixture into a large bowl or plugged up kitchen sink and let the produce soak in it for 2-5 minutes. Then rinse well under cool running tap water.

2. Lemon juice

Lemon juice is another good acidic natural disinfectant. It can remove wax and pesticides from vegetables and help eliminate bacteria.

You can simple dilute lemon juice with water and use it as a vegetable cleaner by soaking or spraying your vegetables before rinsing.

How to Make it:

Mix 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and a cup of water in a spray bottle.

How to Use It:

Same instructions as vinegar.

3. Baking soda

Baking soda is a versatile natural ingredient that can remove surprising amounts of dirt from vegetables. You have a couple of options for how to use it.

Make a Paste

Mix it with water to create a paste, and rub it all over your produce. Rinse thoroughly to remove any residue.

Make a Spray or Soak

Just add a tablespoon of it to the lemon recipe above to make it more powerful. Then follow the same instructions for spraying or soaking your produce.

Don’t add it to the vinegar mix. You can’t mix a solution of vinegar and baking soda for cleaning.

4. Salt

Salt is another natural abrasive that can help remove dirt and bacteria from vegetables. It can draw out bugs or worms, too.

How to Make It:

Mix a tablespoon of salt with a cup of water to create a solution. Or add a tablespoon or two of salt to the vinegar or lemon recipe for added cleaning power.

How to Use it:

Once the salt is well-dissolved, spray the mixture onto veggies and follow the same instructions as for vinegar. Or make a saltwater soak for vegetables and leave them in it for at least 5 minutes.

How to Store and Use Your Homemade Vegetable Cleaner

1. Store your homemade vegetable cleaner in a cool, dark place to maintain its potency.

2. Use a clean spray bottle or container to store and apply the vegetable cleaner.

3. Shake the container before each use to ensure the ingredients are well-mixed.

4. Follow the instructions for use provided with the vegetable cleaner recipe to ensure optimal cleaning results.

Tips for Cleaning Different Types of Vegetables

1. Leafy greens

Soak lettuce and spinach in the vegetable cleaner for a few minutes, then thoroughly rinse to remove dirt and pesticides.

2. Root vegetables

Scrub potatoes and carrots with the vegetable cleaner using a brush to remove dirt and bacteria.

3. Delicate vegetables

Gently wipe tomatoes and berries with a cloth soaked in the vegetable cleaner to avoid damaging their skin.

4. Thick-skinned vegetables

Wash cucumbers and zucchini with the vegetable cleaner using a sponge or brush to remove dirt and residue.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Making Homemade Vegetable Cleaner

When making your own homemade vegetable cleaner, it’s important to be aware of common mistakes that could affect the effectiveness and safety of your cleaner. Here are some mistakes to avoid:

  1. Using too much vinegar or lemon juice: Using excessive amounts of vinegar or lemon juice can leave a strong taste on your vegetables. Always dilute these recipes by at least 1 part water – even more is okay.
  2. Not rinsing vegetables thoroughly: After using the vegetable cleaner, make sure to rinse your vegetables thoroughly with water. Otherwise it could leave behind a residue or taste on your produce.
  3. Not cleaning the spray bottle well enough: Make sure your spray bottle has been washed recently before you mix your veggie spray in it. It could add dirt or a bad taste to produce otherwise.
  4. Storing the vegetable cleaner improperly: To keep your homemade vegetable cleaner fresh, be sure to store it in a cool, dark place like a cabinet or pantry. 

Maintaining the Freshness and Quality of Your Vegetables

Once you’ve cleaned everything, it’s important to store them properly. be sure to store them properly in order to maintain their freshness and prevent spoilage. You can check out our article on how to store fruit and veggies. It lists most of the various fruits and veggies you’ll find in North America.