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Does Water Really Clean Your Fruits and Vegetables?

When it comes to washing veggies, most of us rely on good ol' water. Others use vinegar or soap, but are these techniques more effective? The folks at Cook's Illustrated magazine wanted to know and decided to put it all to the test.

In their test, they washed fruit with one of the following solutions:

  1. Antibacterial soap (not recommended as food safety experts think soap isn't something you should eat)
  2. One part vinegar and three parts water
  3. Scrubbing with a brush
  4. Plain water

Once they had washed their fruit, they then took a sterile cotton swab and rubbed it on the outside of the fruit. The grime collected on the swabs was then placed into Petri dishes and sat at 80F for several days.

Want to know what their results were? Find out, just

The best result was a solution of water and vinegar, which ended up removing 98 percent of the bacteria. Second was the scrub brush, which removed a tiny bit more than just water alone.

To achieve this level of cleanliness at home, spray the fruit with enough to coat the surface and then rinse it under the tap. Cook's Illustrated's editor Jack Bishop had this to say about it:

"The cold water will wash the residual flavor from the vinegar, and finishes the cleaning process. So it's a 30-second, 50-cent investment."

What do you think? Will you use a vinegar solution to clean your fruits and veg?

Source: NPR
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xMiss-Worldx xMiss-Worldx 7 years
Thats what I do, I've never had a problem with it :) a few extra minutes to get rid of the bacteria is always welcomed.
Happy-Jenny Happy-Jenny 8 years
ya know i haven't gotten sick yet but with other people that have gotten e-coli...i don't think its a bad thing either...and viniger is dirt cheap
terryt18 terryt18 8 years
i'ma totally try this. i always figured i was only rinsing the dirt off with water, and maybe a bit of the pesticides. now i'ma add vinegar and munch with confidence.
Annanina Annanina 8 years
I took Food Sanitation class this semester and we just talked about this last Friday!!
OldSchooler OldSchooler 8 years
I couldn't agree more with FiestyRed and Allytta. And I don't bother washing organic produce unless noticeably dirty.
Dragon Dragon 8 years
Ditto on danig's comment -- a little bit of bacteria helps keep us healthy. I rinse with water for 10-15 s and then scrub with a paper towel. I just can't see going the extra step of washing with a vinegar solution.
danig danig 8 years
good point about the bacteria. our bodies need some bacs.
kiwitwist kiwitwist 8 years
I am with cravinsugar... a little bacteria is good for you. I am an avid hand washer so I don't need to become a psyhco about this too LOL!
LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 8 years
yeah i've never had a problem either
cravinsugar cravinsugar 8 years
I won't try this...I wash my fruits and vegs in water, and I haven't gotten sick ever. It is fine.
lisa212 lisa212 8 years
Good to know!
lisa212 lisa212 8 years
Good to know!
Twinkle1 Twinkle1 8 years
No, for the same reasons Allytta and FiestyRed mentioned.
beingtazim beingtazim 8 years
i sometimes get paranoid and do this or when apples are too waxy, but generally, no.
Allytta Allytta 8 years
no way. some bacteria is very healthy for my immune system and white blood cells. it's an exercise for my body.
FiestyRed36 FiestyRed36 8 years
Seems just a tiny bit ridiculous. I haven't gotten sick from eating any fruits or veggies that I eat after just washing them with cold water, so I don't see the point.
bobcatsteph3 bobcatsteph3 8 years
I'll definitely use this now! Besides putting the vinegar/water mixture in a spray bottle is going to be much cheaper than any of the sprays they have on the market!
wickidgrrl wickidgrrl 8 years
I have tried this, and remember to rinse under the tap. the vinegar smell does go away, and it doesn't ruin the taste:)
wickidgrrl wickidgrrl 8 years
I have tried this, and remember to rinse under the tap. the vinegar smell does go away, and it doesn't ruin the taste:)
millarci millarci 8 years
I'll have to try that. I also always wondered if just water really did wash away the bacteria. I guess it doesn't...
stefsprl stefsprl 8 years
I've always wondered if water alone was actually doing enough, so this is awesome to read. I wish they would have tested the fruit/veggie washes like veronicaraye mentioned, though, because I was going to buy a bottle of that to try.
tinkerbelle76 tinkerbelle76 8 years
Vinegar smells ever so gross, but I guess not as gross as bacteria!
tkoblondee tkoblondee 8 years
I'll try it. Now vinegar will go up to $5.00 a bottle!
vapidintuition vapidintuition 8 years
I've been doing this for a long time. Actually, the vinegar and water rinse works well for all sorts of situations where you might not want to use soap, like cleaning out fishtanks and hummingbird feeders, too.
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