DIY Vegetable Wash for Removing Wax & Pesticides from Fruits & Vegetables

homemade vegetable wash recipe

Pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables can be a problem when buying conventionally grown. But there is a natural homemade solution to help with this – a DIY fruit and veggie wash to help remove dirt, bacteria, wax, and pesticides easily.

Wax on, wax off.

In an ideal world, we’d have money growing on trees that we could spend on as much fresh organic produce as we’d like. However, for a lot of us, buying only organic isn’t within our budget, so sometimes we have to compromise.

Prioritising certain organic foods over others can help to reduce and even eliminate much of the pesticides from the foods we eat, as some are more prone to being pesticide-laden than others.

Prioritising Certain Organic Foods

When grocery shopping, I keep a little note on my phone of the “Terrible 20” and “Fab 14” list. This list shares which foods are okay to buy conventional, and which should be bought organic.

It’s really helpful for when you’re on a tight budget and can’t buy everything organic. The foods listed are in order of least pesticide-laden to most pesticide-laden (similar to the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” list).

homemade vegetable wash recipe
Before and after.

The Fab 14 & Terrible 20 Shopping Guide

All these foods are listed from best (lowest pesticide levels) to worst (highest pesticide levels).

Fab 14 (okay to buy conventionally grown):

  • Avocado
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet peas
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mango
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Mushrooms

Terrible 20 (always buy organic):

  • Sweet corn
  • Hawaiian papaya
  • Summer squash (zucchini or yellow crookneck)
  • Lettuce
  • Blueberries
  • Kale/collard greens
  • Hot peppers (chilli)
  • Potatoes
  • Soybeans (edamame)
  • Snap peas
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Sweet bell peppers (capsicum)
  • Spinach
  • Celery
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Apples

It’s particularly important that you wash non-organic produce, but still wash organic produce, too, just to be on the safe side. According to the Food Revolution Network:

Nearly all farmers — even organic farmers — use some pesticides. They just use different ones.

Why would organic farmers use pesticides? Like conventional farmers or anyone who has a backyard garden, organic farmers are faced with weeds, insects, and diseases.

Most of the pesticides on the USDA organic national list of allowed substances are natural in origin. Conventional farmers are allowed to use 900 different synthetic pesticides. But organic farmers are allowed to use only 25 synthetic pesticides – and then only in carefully regulated ways.

Before we get started in learning how to make these super simple produce washes – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my email newsletter at the bottom of the page to keep up to date on the latest recipes, DIYs, gardening and health tips I share!!

DIY Fruit & Veggie Washes

According to Wellness Mama:

The University of Maine studied the most popular store bought fruit and vegetable wash brands and found that not only did many of them contain chlorine (to kill bacteria on the produce), but in lab testing, they were no more effective than using distilled water.

Unfortunately, neither commercial washes or distilled vinegar completely removed waxes, pesticides, and other residue from produce.

However, homemade fruit and veggie rinses have been found to be quite effective at removing unwanted chemical residues, waxes, and disease-causing bacteria from produce.

produce rinse pic

The most effective way to do this is to use different washes for fruit and vegetables (as you don’t want your berries tasting like vinegar).

DIY Wash for Most Fruits and Vegetables

One of the simplest and most common ways to naturally clean produce is to use plain white vinegar. For majority of produce with a skin, this is a good wash to use.

remove wax from fruit pic

Ingredients:

Optional:

  • Lemon juice

To make:

  1. Place the fruits and veggies in a large bowl or freshly cleaned kitchen sink, then fill with water and add white vinegar.
  2. Let them soak for up to one hour, then scrub the produce gently to remove any wax coating, and rinse.
  3. Let the produce dry completely before placing in the fridge to prevent decay.

DIY Baking Soda Produce Wash

According to the Food Revolution Network:

A new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry compared the effectiveness of plain water, a Clorox bleach solution, and a baking soda and water solution.

Perhaps surprisingly, the baking soda solution was found to be most effective at removing pesticide residues both on the surface and beneath the skin of apples.

Again, this is not for all produce, just the majority of produce with a skin. Smooth skinned fruits, such as apples, nectarines, and cherries, can be washed in this baking soda solution the same way as veggies.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp baking soda
  • 12 1/2 cups water

To make:

  1. In a freshly cleaned kitchen sink, fill with water and add baking soda. Stir through to dissolve. Place the fruits and veggies in to soak.
  2. Let them soak for up to one hour, then scrub the produce gently to remove the wax coating, and rinse.
  3. Let the produce dry completely before placing in the fridge to prevent decay.

DIY Berry Wash

Berries are not an easy food to clean, as they are so delicate and tend to take on any flavour they come into contact with (no one likes the taste of vinegar-y berries).

Using lemon juice that’s been diluted with water is a great way to clean berries without them taking on the taste of other flavours.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups water
  • Glass spray bottle (I advise against using plastic as the lemon juice can corrode the plastic)

To make:

  1. In a glass spray bottle, mix the water and lemon juice together, then spray onto the berries. Make sure the berries are fully coated before placing them in fresh water to soak for about 15 minutes.
  2. Let them dry completely before storing them in the fridge.

DIY Mushroom Scrub

To clean mushrooms thoroughly, you can gently scrub mushrooms using a mushroom brush and then rinse them quickly under running water. After that, gently dab the mushrooms dry with a clean kitchen towel.

DIY Lettuce and Leafy Greens Wash

Lettuce and greens are quite delicate, making them a challenge to wash. They’re also more likely to contain insects.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Glass spray bottle (I advise against using plastic as the salt and the lemon juice can corrode the plastic)

To make:

  1. In a glass spray bottle, pour in the salt and water, and stir until dissolved. Next, add in the lemon juice and gently stir to combine.
  2. Spray this solution onto the greens, then let them sit for about a minute or so before moving them to the sink with diluted vinegar water.
  3. Let them soak for about 15 minutes, then rinse them in cold water and allow to dry completely before storing them to the fridge.

Storing greens in mason jars with some water in the fridge can help keep them fresher for longer.

As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. I am not a doctor. All opinions expressed are my own personal thoughts and feelings of the products mentioned. Check with your doctor or health practitioner if you are uncertain about trying out any of the products, recipes or tips mentioned in this post.

Do you opt for organic? Where do you source your fruits and vegetables from? Share in the comments below.

Lots of love,

🖤 Vanessa

Sources:

Wells, Katie. (Updated: July 30, 2019). DIY Fruit and Vegetable Wash (& Preserver). Wellness Mama. Retrieved from https://wellnessmama.com/28/fruit-vegetable-wash/

Calton, Jayson, PhD, Calton, Mira, CN. (2015). The Micronutrient Miracle. Rodale Inc. 733 Third Avenue, New York.

How To Remove Pesticides From Fruits And Vegetables. (April 24, 2015). Happy Healthy Mama. Retrieved from https://happyhealthymama.com/how-to-remove-pesticides-from-fruits-and-vegetables.html

Natural Cleaners to Get Wax Off of Fruits and Vegetables. SFGate. Retrieved from https://homeguides.sfgate.com/natural-cleaners-wax-off-fruits-vegetables-79334.html

Martinko, Katherine. (January 29, 2016). Make your own veggie and fruit wash. Tree Hugger. Retrieved from https://www.treehugger.com/green-food/make-your-own-veggie-and-fruit-wash.html

Don’t Break the Bank: The Fab 14 & Terrible 20 Safe Shopping Guide. Calton Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.caltonnutrition.com/nsrichfood-fab-14/

Benzaken, Hilla. (October 17, 2018). 5 Super Simple Ways to Get Pesticides Off Your Produce. GoodNet. Retrieved from https://www.goodnet.org/articles/5-super-simple-ways-to-get-pesticides-off-your-produce

Honeycutt, Emily. (Updated: March 31, 2021). How to Wash Vegetables and Fruits to Remove Pesticides. Food Revolution Network. Retrieved from https://foodrevolution.org/blog/how-to-wash-vegetables-fruits/

Simple Tricks to Remove Pesticides From Fruits and Vegetables. (Updated: August 16, 2017). NDTV Food. Retrieved from https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/simple-tricks-to-remove-pesticides-from-fruits-and-vegetables-696039

Roberts, Catherine. (October 25, 2017). An Easy Way to Remove Pesticides. Consumer Reports. Retrieved from https://www.consumerreports.org/pesticides-herbicides/easy-way-to-remove-pesticides-a3616455263/

Maura. DIY Natural Fruit and Vegetable Wash Spray (3 Simple Methods). Living Well Mom. Retrieved from https://livingwellmom.com/natural-fruit-veggie-wash/

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