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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 8 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 10 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 10 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 10 years
I took Food Sanitation class this semester and we just talked about this last Friday!!
OldSchooler OldSchooler 10 years
I couldn't agree more with FiestyRed and Allytta. And I don't bother washing organic produce unless noticeably dirty.
Dragon Dragon 10 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 10 years
good point about the bacteria. our bodies need some bacs.
kiwitwist kiwitwist 10 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 10 years
yeah i've never had a problem either
cravinsugar cravinsugar 10 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 10 years
Good to know!
Twinkle1 Twinkle1 10 years
No, for the same reasons Allytta and FiestyRed mentioned.
beingtazim beingtazim 10 years
i sometimes get paranoid and do this or when apples are too waxy, but generally, no.
Allytta Allytta 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 years
Vinegar smells ever so gross, but I guess not as gross as bacteria!
tkoblondee tkoblondee 10 years
I'll try it. Now vinegar will go up to $5.00 a bottle!
vapidintuition vapidintuition 10 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.
lexichloe lexichloe 10 years
I'll probably give it a try! Thanks for this. :)
ley ley 10 years
too much work.. too lazy.. probably not unless my fruit or veg looks totally dirty
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