Does washing fruit and veg in vinegar really make a difference?

The answer is: YES.

Washing something that has come from the dirt, sprayed during its growth, handled during harvest, handled during sorting, handled during packing, handled during transit, handled during unpacking and then handled again by who knows how many hands once on display at the store/market… Well that seems like a good old fashioned common sense thing to do, yeah?

But you’d be surprised at how uncommon it is or how lacking in importance that it can be considered.

To wash your fruit and veg before you eat them is important. Even the organic stuff, it still comes into contact with dirt, organic pesticides and human hands.

The Journal of Food Protection(1) inoculated apples, tomatoes, lettuce and broccoli with Listeria and then compared various washing techniques: soak for 2 min in tap water, Veggie Wash solution, 5% vinegar solution, or 13% lemon solution, rinse under running tap water, rinse and rub under running tap water, brush under running tap water, or wipe with wet/dry paper towel.

They found:

  • Pre-soaking before rinsing significantly reduced bacteria in all but the broccoli.
  • Dry brushing apples and tomatoes was effective at reducing bacteria compared with soaking and rinsing.
  • There was no significant difference between tap water and lemon or vinegar solutions for lettuce.
  • And concluded “Therefore, educators and extension workers might consider it appropriate to instruct consumers to rub or brush fresh produce under cold running tap water before consumption.”

Look, if all I had was a paper towel or tissue, or just plain water to rinse, this would do but I do prefer to soak my fresh produce in an apple cider vinegar bath before eating it. And the International Journal of Food Microbiology(2) agrees with me:

Lemon juice, vinegar and the mixture of lemon juice and vinegar (1:1) were tested for their effectiveness in reducing the counts of inoculated Salmonella typhimurium (approximately 6 and 3 log cfu/g) on carrots. Treatment of carrot samples with lemon juice vinegar alone for different exposure times (0, 15, 30 and 60 min) caused significant reductions ranging between 0.79–3.95 and 1.57–3.58 log cfu/g, respectively, while the number of pathogens was reduced to an undetectable level after 30-min treatment by combined used lemon juice vinegar.”

When you combine lemon juice and vinegar and soak your F&V for 30 minutes there will likely be undetectable levels of pathogens!



How I care for fruit and veg:

  • Oranges, mandarins, bananas are put straight onto the bench top fruit baskets. I will wash oranges before slicing as bacteria can be transferred from the flesh to the skin via the knife blade.
  • Berries, stone fruit, grapes, apples and pears are soaked in an apple cider vinegar solution then rinsed and laid out onto clean, dry towels to dry. Berries and grapes are stored in air tight containers in the fridge, the others go into the fruit bowl.
  • Cherry tomatoes are also soaked, rinsed and dried then put into their own bowl on the bench top as the children eat these regularly throughout the day.
  • Vegetables are stored in the crisper in the fridge and soaked and rinsed as I need to use them.

Yes it’s extra “work” but it’s worth it. Love, K180, x



1.  Journal of Food Protection. Efficacy of Home Washing Methods in Controlling Surface Microbial Contamination on Fresh Produce. Number 2, February 2006, pp. 252-468, pp. 330-334(5)

2. International Journal of Food Microbiology. Effectiveness of lemon juice, vinegar and their mixture in the elimination of Salmonella typhimurium on carrots (Daucus carota L.) Volume 96, Issue 3, 15 November 2004, Pages 301–305.