Spoiler: You do, and here's how to make it yourself
Hi, my name is Rebecca and I'm freaked out by germs. I take off my shoes before I walk into my house. If you need some natural hand sanitizer, I’m your girl. These tendencies obviously follow me into the kitchen, starting with an item you might deem unnecessary: fruit and vegetable wash. OK, you can roll your eyes and claim vegetable wash is a scam. All right, you’ve never gotten sick from the kale you never wash. I’m sure any soil still hanging onto your cilantro is just improving your immune system.
Hot take: You might just be getting lucky. I tend to have bad luck, so I use vegetable wash. And guess what? It adds just a few extra minutes to my cooking routine.
What is fruit and vegetable wash?
Fruit and vegetable wash is basically hand soap for produce. While much of the produce available at the grocery store is rinsed, it’s rarely, if ever, completely washed. Because of this, if there happens to be bacteria like E. coli and salmonella crawling on your produce and you plan to eat it raw, you could get sick. Produce with exposed edible skin like apples and cucumbers are also often treated with wax to increase their shelf life. While some waxes are naturally occurring on produce and all used are technically food-grade, you still might not want to eat them. Vegetable wash cleans away all the grit and grime—significantly more than rinsing produce with water alone.
OK, what’s in it?
The Honest Company’s Fruit and Veggie Wash contains purified water, citric acid, sodium citrate (a preservative), sea salt, vegetable glycerin (used to keep oil-and-water-based mixtures blended), decyl glucoside (a natural surfactant), and calcium ascorbate (a compound of calcium and vitamin C).
Ecos’s Fruit & Veggie Wash is made of water, denatured alcohol (a corn-derived solvent and anti-foaming agent), Caprylyl/Myristyl Glucoside (used to keep oil-and-water-based mixtures blended), potassium sorbate (a preservative), and citric acid.
How to wash leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, berries, etc.
Place produce in a salad spinner—oh, yeah, you probably should get a salad spinner, but if you don’t have one, a large bowl will also work—and fill it with cold water. Dump the water and repeat this step once or twice, swishing the produce around in the bowl, especially they’re sandy or soil-caked. After the water runs clear, fill the spinner again and add a few spritzes of fruit and vegetable wash. Swish the produce around, then let it sit for 1-2 minutes. Rinse the produce with cold water another 2-3 times. Spin the produce in the salad spinner (delicate berries can air-dry or be dried on a kitchen towel). If you see a lot more dirt in the bottom of the bowl, rinse, spritz, swish, and soak the produce 1-2 more times, until no dirt shows up after spinning.
How to wash firm produce like apples, tomatoes, grapes, eggplant, cucumber, etc.
Place produce in a salad spinner or bowl and rise with water. Drain the spinner, then spray the produce with a few spritzes of vegetable wash. Rub the wash all over the produce, using your hands or a gentle kitchen brush. Rinse dirt and vegetable wash off the produce, then dry on a kitchen towel.
A natural solution
For those who don’t want to buy a solution with which to wash vegetables, you can DIY. It’s completely easy to make your own fruit and vegetable wash, and it requires just a couple ingredients you probably already have. Mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 tablespoons white vinegar per cup of water in a clean spray bottle. Use a spritz or two as explained above.