How to Clean Fruits & Veggies

Hi Friends!

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with all the fixin’s.  Hubby and I spent a peaceful quiet day together celebrating our day of thanks! I made Hubby a simple “non-traditional” crock pot turkey breast meal with a fresh turkey breast, stuffing, low-fat/low-sodium soups, green beans and onions.  To complement this easy to make one-pot meal, I made homemade cranberry sauce and a fairly healthy apple and walnut cake (I need to experiment with this recipe a bit more to make it even healthier).  As for me, I prepared a healthy Harvest Squash made with acorn squash stuffed with wild rice, onions & celery, fresh cranberries, almond slices, and dried apricots.  Yummy!

You may be asking yourself, why two different meals?  Well, my body pretty much dictates my eating habits these days, and eating turkey, stuffing, and gravy were outside my body’s limits for now  😦 

Living with the aftermath of a nasty intestinal bacterial infection and the complications I’ve experienced has been challenging (and scary), to say the least.  As a result, I’ve had to make several lifestyle/eating changes that would make your average folk’s head spin.  Changes like…

  • Eat 100% at home (it’s been over 8 months since I’ve set foot in a restaurant)
  • Eliminate wheat and products containing wheat from my diet  (i.e., Gluten/Wheat-Free)
  • Eat more in-season fruits and veggies from local organic sources 🙂
  • Sanitize/wash all fruits and veggies – especially store-bought and “pre-washed” products (see important step-by-step instructions below) 
  • Eat 4-5 small meals daily with foods that are easy to digest
  • Eat a liquid/soft diet for several days when things “act up”

All positive changes (well, if you throw out the liquid/soft diet part).

To help minimize the chance of becoming infected with a food-borne bacterial infection, I’ve adopted a fruit and veggie cleaning regimen that I stick to very closely.  I emphasize minimize because it’s close to impossible to eliminate all food-borne “threats” 100% (this is a huge topic, so I’m gonna keep mine down to just cleaning fruits and veggies).  Ultimately, hubby and I will be growing our own fruits and veggies, so we’ll have tons more control over our food source, but for now, we have to make the best of what we have available to us.  So that means, a fruit and veggie cleaning regimen for store-bought fresh fruits and veggies, pre-packaged/pre-washed produce (which I buy at a very minimum), AND fresh organic fruits and veggies.

Clean Your Fruits and Veggies! 
This includes…

  • Store bought fresh fruits and veggies

  • Pre-packaged/pre-washed produce

  • and… Organic fresh fruits and veggies

Why include organically grown produce?  Think about it… organic is typically grown in composted manure soils, are exposed to (and have) various molds, are exposed to insects/parasites (which can and do carry disease), and, like the mainstream produce industry, is highly dependent upon the hygienic practices of the grower / harvester.  It makes me cringe when I see people yank off a fruit or vegetable fresh from the garden, pop it in their mouth, chew and swallow!

Without further adieu… here’s the process I follow for cleaning fruits and veggies.

Cleaning Method

Tools you’ll need:

  • Several clean towels
  • Fruit/veggie scrub brush
  • regular Chlorine Bleach (unscented)
  • Teaspoon
  • Gloves
  • Strainer
  • Large slotted spoon
  • Apron (optional)
  • Large bowl (optional)
  • Cutting board, knife and storage containers/bags (to prep/store your cleaned fruits and veggies)

Helpful Tip:  It’s quicker and easier to wash fruit and veggies in batches based on the skin type… thin-skinned or thick-skinned.  Below are a few examples of thick and thin-skinned fruits/veggies:

Thin Skin Thick Skin
Grapes Avocado
Green Onions Apple
Tomatoes Potato
Cabbage Lemon

There are a few different cleaning methods out there, but my integrative doctor (M.D.) recommended the following to remove bacteria, mold, parasites, bugs, etc.  Note: in addition to the steps below, be sure to use a scrub brush to scrub your fruits and veggies gently, but thoroughly.


Chlorine Bleach Solution

1 teaspoon chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of fresh water

Soak thin-skinned fruits & veggies: 10 minutes
Soak thick-skinned fruits & veggies: 20 minutes

Rinse well!

Step #1: Lay out clean towels and tools; be sure not to place unclean fruit and veggies on your clean towels

Step 2 & 3: Remove all stickers and tags from produce and fill sink (or large bowl) with 1 or more gallons of fresh cool water.

Step 4: With protective gloves on (and apron, if you want) add 1 teaspoon of Chlorine Bleach (unscented) for every gallon of water used (can do this while water is running to help mix bleach with water)

Be mindful of splashing – if you get the bleach water on your clothes, it can remove the color (permanently); if you get some in your eyes, promptly follow the safety/first-aid instructions on your bleach bottle

Step 5: With protective gloves still on, gently place fruit into the water (again, be mindful of splashing) and let soak – make sure everything is well covered with the bleach water (you can place something on top to keep everything under the water or use a spoon to occasionally dunk/move things around).

Set your timer as follows:

10 minutes for thin-skinned fruits and veggies
(i.e., green onions, grapes, tomatoes, leafy greens, broccoli,  etc.)

20 minutes for thick-skinned fruits and veggies
(i.e., winter and summer squash, apples, pears, potatoes,  etc.)


After a few minutes of soaking, gently scrub your fruits and veggies


Step 6: Rinse. Rinse. Rinse.

Step 7: After rinsing, lay clean fruits and veggies on the towels you placed out, dry, prep and put away. 

Now your fruits and veggies are “ready to eat” for the week.

Hope you find this helpful.

God Bless,



Filed under Miscellaneous, Preserving the Harvest

2 responses to “How to Clean Fruits & Veggies

  1. Paula

    Glad to hear you are both feeling better. Sounds like most things are under control by now. Hey can you send me that stuffed squash recipe? I love, love, love that kind of stuff. Boy all your gardening sounds super time consuming but so rewarding. Take care and hope to hear from you soon. Xoxo

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