Fruit Washer

What do Scientific Studies Say About Fruit Washing Methods

Washing fruit is something we all do multiple times a day, especially if you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle. If you are like me, you are in a rush, quickly run the tap over your chosen handful of fruit vegetables and you are good to go. But how effective is that quick splash under the tap even on the spray function? It took me getting food poisoning, hunched in the depths of nausea to reconsider how we wash our fruit and vegetables and what is the best way to prevent this in the future.

Coming from a scientific background, I wanted to find the best most efficient ways to do that according to scientific studies. There are four common ways we found that have been studied and one new method that has not been extensively studied.

1) Washing your produce with water:

Washing your fruits and vegetables with water can remove 75-80% of pesticide residues, and microbial contamination according to most studies. 

2) Baking Soda Soak:

Soaking your fruits and vegetables in a baking soda solution can enhance pesticide removal by an additional 10-15%. Therefore this method can reduce pesticide levels by 85-90%

3) Vinegar Wash:

Washing your fruits and vegatables in a 10% white vinegar solution can remove microbial contamination by approximately 90-95%. This inculdes pathogens like E. Coli and Salmonella. 

4) Commercial Produce Wash: 

Commercial produce wash effectiveness can vary but some products claim to remove 90-95% of pathogens but these are claims and not from studies. 

5) Ultrasonic Fruit Washers: 

There is some promise from ultrasonic produce washers but no studies that we could find that could back the claims. ultrasonic fruit washers hold promise for effectively removing contaminants from fruits, including pesticide residues, more research is needed to fully understand their efficacy and optimize their use in food processing and cleaning.

The Science and Methods:

Several scientific studies have explored methods to effectively remove pesticides and microorganisms from fruits. Here's an overview of some commonly recommended techniques:

  1. Washing with water: Studies have shown that simply washing fruits under running water can significantly reduce pesticide residues and microbial contamination. One study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2017) found that rinsing fruits with tap water effectively removed pesticide residues, especially for smooth-skinned fruits like apples and tomatoes. [Reference: Chavarri et al., 2017]

  2. Using baking soda: A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2017) suggests that soaking fruits in a solution of water and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can further enhance pesticide removal. The study found that soaking apples in a solution of baking soda and water for 15 minutes followed by rinsing under tap water significantly reduced pesticide residues compared to water alone. [Reference: Singh et al., 2017]

  3. Vinegar wash: Some research indicates that washing fruits with vinegar may also help remove pesticides and microbes. A study published in Food Control (2017) found that soaking strawberries in vinegar solution (10% white vinegar) for 20 minutes followed by rinsing with water effectively reduced microbial contamination, including pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli. [Reference: Bautista-Baños et al., 2017]

  4. Commercial produce wash: There are commercial produce wash solutions available that claim to remove pesticides and microorganisms more effectively than water alone. While there is limited scientific research on the efficacy of these products, some studies suggest that they may provide additional benefits. However, it's essential to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.

It's worth noting that while these methods can reduce pesticide residues and microbial contamination, they may not completely eliminate them. Additionally, peeling fruits can further reduce pesticide exposure, but it also removes some of the nutrients and dietary fiber present in the skin.


  • Chavarri, M. J., et al. (2017). Removal of pesticide residues from apples by washing with tap and ozone water, ultrasonic cleaning and boiling. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 65(40), 8780-8788.
  • Singh, N., et al. (2017). Removal of surface pesticide residues from apples by washing. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 65(20), 4086-4093.
  • Bautista-Baños, S., et al. (2017). Effect of chitosan and nanochitosan coatings on microbial contamination and shelf-life of strawberries. Food Control, 79, 131-135.


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