For good health, the USDA recommends that you eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. But before you reach for that apple slice or celery stalk, reach for a container of fruit and vegetable wash. It's an excellent way to remove the bacteria, pesticides, and other unwanted elements that threaten to negate the benefits of your healthy food choices.
Since your goal is to rid your produce of unwanted elements, you might feel a bit uneasy about using a factory-made wash to clean it. We understand, and we're here to help you find the best choices available. Environne's Purely Essential Fruit and Vegetable Wash is our favorite because it removes four times more pesticides and other contaminants than water alone. Read on for more useful information.
Considerations when choosing fruit and vegetable washes
What's in the wash?
No residue left behind: For many consumers, that's the key to a good fruit and vegetable wash. A lot of washes are made of natural or plant-based materials themselves, so if a drop or two remains, you needn't worry. Let's take a look at two of the most common ingredients in fruit and veggie wash.
Citrus oil: By the time that supermarket apple reaches your fruit bowl, it likely has some buildup on it. Food-grade citrus oil cuts through the buildup -- wax, grime, other residue -- to polish your apple so it's shiny enough for the teacher's desk.
Ethyl alcohol: Just as you might use an alcohol-based cleaner to disinfect your sink, you can use a wash with food-grade ethyl alcohol to remove impurities from your produce. Plant-based ethyl alcohol is derived from corn and is safe in small quantities.
Spray or soak?
You can purchase fruit and vegetable wash in a spray bottle or as a concentrate to be mixed with water. Which is better? Well, they're both effective, but your choice will likely boil down to the quantity of produce you wish to clean.
If you're preparing lots of fruit at once -- say a platter full of pears for some hungry teenagers -- adding a few drops of concentrate to a bowl of water makes more economic sense because you can clean the whole batch at once. If you're in the mood for a plum and don't feel like standing at the kitchen sink with your hands immersed in water, a spray bottle is quicker. Simply spray your plum, wipe it down, and enjoy.
If you have any special dietary concerns, check the label. Fruit and veggie washes are made for people who are conscientious about what they eat. We think you'll be pleased by the level of informational detail you'll find on most containers.
Organic: If your produce is organic, you of course want your produce wash to follow suit. Check the label for the words "certified organic." These products are free of synthetic additives.
Kosher: You can use fruit and veggie wash on a kosher diet. Just be sure the produce is labeled "kosher."
Gluten-free: Most fruit and veggie washes are inherently free of gluten, but some are made in facilities that produce foods with gluten. If you're concerned, check the label to make sure your spray is certified gluten-free.
Fruit and veggie sprays can be expensive; some cost as much as $1 per ounce. If you buy spray bottles in bulk, however, you're more likely to pay $0.30 per ounce, which is palatable. Bottles of concentrate tend to cost about the same or a little less. If you're interested in saving money, it pays to do the arithmetic first so you know how much you're paying per ounce.
Q. I just got home from the supermarket. Should I wash my fruits and vegetables before I put them in the refrigerator?
A. No. Wait to wash it just before you eat it. Refrigerating freshly washed produce encourages the food to decay faster than it otherwise would.
Q. Can I clean my pre-bagged salad with fruit and veggie spray?
A. You can, and you probably should. Even salad that has been "pre-washed" can benefit from an extra washing at home, experts say. Run it through your salad spinner with water, and then run it again with a few squirts of bottled veggie wash.
Our take: Ideal for those who want an organic and cruelty-free produce wash.
What we like: Organic and kosher. Indefinite shelf life; product does not spoil.
What we dislike: It cleans but does not disinfect.
Melissa Nott is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.