Does Fruit and Veggie Wash Actually Work?
Everyone wants fruits and vegetables that are clean and free of pesticides. If a quick rinse under the faucet doesn't fly in your household, there are produce washes on the market that claim to eliminate these unwanted ingredients once and for all. So we wanted to know: Are those store-bought washes worth the money, and do they really do a better job than just water?
Many studies have been conducted over the years to test the effectiveness of these cleaners. Researchers at the University of Maine tested three commercial washes and "found that distilled water was equally if not more effective in removing microbes such as bacteria and mold." The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meanwhile, also does not endorse these products, "because the safety of their residues has not been evaluated and their effectiveness has not been tested or standardized."
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Still, we wanted to put our money where our mouth is (literally) and see for ourselves.
It's important to note that when washing produce at home, different fruits and vegetables require different cleaning methods. For produce that has thick skin, like cucumbers and apples, or is grown in the ground, like potatoes and carrots, we recommend using a small brush to help gently scrub away any residue. To wash delicate produce, like berries, rinse them in a bowl of solution first, and then rinse again in a colander.
For our test, we cleaned four tomatoes using two commercial washes, Earth Friendly Products ($2) and Fit Organic ($23), as well as a homemade solution of distilled water, lemon juice and vinegar, and, finally, plain old distilled H2O. While the store-bought veggie washes did clean the produce as advertised, our homemade solution and distilled water did as well. There was no taste difference among the four tomatoes, and all visible residue came off using each method.
So when it comes to getting your fruits and vegetables clean, don't waste your money on store-bought washes. If you have the extra cash and want to splurge, hit the farmers' market and load up on the good stuff.
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