You Should Absolutely Be Washing Your Fruits and Veggies—Here's How

You’ll want to read this before you make dinner.

wash fruits and vegetables
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They say fruit is nature's candy. It's delicious, sweet, and it comes in its own wrapper. There's just one little thing we tend to forget about nature: while it's beautiful, but it can also be awfully dirty. This includes that piece of fruit sitting on the counter and the carrots in your vegetable crisper.

According to Natalie Sexton, producer of Natalie's Orchid Island Juice Co. in Fort Pierre, Florida, all fruits and vegetables should be cleaned before you consume them. She says the only exceptions are frozen or packaged produce with labels clearly stating they are pre-washed and ready to eat. She adds, "Even if you won't be eating the skin or peel of a piece of fruit, it should be washed before cutting since the debris on the outside can transfer and contaminate the inside once you open it."

Why Do You Need to Wash Fruits and Vegetables?

Fruit and vegetables can carry more than just dirt. According to the CDC, they can also carry germs like Salmonella, E-coli, and Listeria. This can lead to food poisoning, which is especially threatening for adults over 65, children under five, and anyone with a compromised immune system. Luckily, washing your produce is quick and easy.

How to Wash Produce

Make sure you start with a clean slate. "Prior to handling anything in the kitchen, always start by washing your hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds," Sexton says. "Then, dry them on a clean paper towel or designated hand towel."

Next, hold your produce under cold tap water for at least 10 seconds and make sure that the full exterior is submerged and rinsed. "This cold rinsing process will help remove any pesticides and/or dirt on the surface of the item," says Sexton.

How to Wash Firm Produce

If you're washing a piece of firm produce, like an apple or potato, Sexton says to take a stiff-bristled brush and scrub it under a stream of water. The bristle will remove any dirt embedded in the divots. No soap is necessary. "Cold, running tap is the best option to use when cleaning your fruits and veggies," she explains.

How to Wash Leafy Greens

Leafy greens need to be treated with care. "It's best to separate leaves by hand, gently pulling them off the head, and rinse the leaves individually," says Sexton. As an alternative, she also says you can place leafy produce in a bowl of cold water and swish it around to remove any dirt or residue. When you're finished, drain into a strainer, taking care not to pour the dirty water onto your other ingredients.

How to Wash Delicate Produce

Produce items like berries, mushrooms, and soft fruits are too delicate to clean with a brush. Instead, hold them under a steady stream of cold tap water and run your fingers gently down the sides to loosen any dirt or impurities.

How to Dry Fruit and Vegetables

Now that your produce is clean, Sexton recommends drying with a clean paper towel or designated cloth. "This will help remove any further bacteria," she says. "You can pat your produce dry or lay the items out flat on the towel." Once it's dry, you can eat or prepare like usual.

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