Learning from the Expert: A Guide to Produce Washing


An in-store wall of fresh produce
Vegetables on Counter
                                         By: Akua Woolbright, Ph.D., National Nutrition Director, Whole Cities Foundation


At a time when food safety and sanitation is imperative, proper handling of fresh produce can help you stay healthy. Whether your produce comes from the grocery store or your garden, washing fruits and vegetables is always a good practice. You can do so at home without using harmful soaps and household cleaning agents, which can cause digestive issues.

For most people, it is probably safe to consume packaged pre-washed produce without additional washing. The exception is those with compromised immune systems.


How to Get Started: 

•    Wash your hands after unpacking and putting away any groceries or tending to your garden.

•    Always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after preparing produce. 

•    Even if you do not plan to eat the skin on your fruit and veggies, thoroughly wash your produce to remove dirt, bacteria, and any surface residue or contaminants

While COVID-19 has heightened our awareness surrounding food safety, we should always take this amount of care when cleaning produce. 


Two Methods for Produce Washing: 

1. Soak 

When washing produce, create a simple vinegar- water solution to soak your produce.



1 Cup water 

1 Tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar or White Vinegar 

Dash of Baking Soda (optional)



Place produce in sink or tub and soak in vinegar-water solution for five minutes. Scrub firm or hard produce vigorously with a clean produce brush. Rinse thoroughly with water and dry completely with a paper towel or clean cloth.


2. Spray

When spray washing your produce, you can purchase a produce wash that comes in a spray bottle or make your own produce spray. 



2 Cups Water

1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar 

10 Drops of Essential Oil, such as orange, lemon or grapefruit oil (optional) 


Combine ingredients and pour in a clean spray bottle. Spray the produce thoroughly. Scrub firm or hard produce vigorously with a clean produce brush. Rinse thoroughly and dry completely with a paper towel or clean cloth.


General Produce Water Temperatures:


Firm produce (i.e., sweet potatoes, carrots, onions) 

Warm or Hot


Delicate produce (i.e., lettuce, berries, soft tomatoes) 

Cold or Tepid 


Stay tuned for more tips and best practices for better health!



As the National Nutrition Program Director for Whole Cities Foundation, Dr. Akua Woolbright uses her extensive background in nutritional science and wellness to help people harness the healing power of food and make lasting lifestyle changes.


Comments (1)

5.13.2020 [SHIRLEY WALLER]

We have always receive the best guidance and insight from this powerhouse of knowledge embodied in Dr. Woolbright. Thank you Whole Foods for sponsoring the programs to the city of Detroit and thank you Dr. Woolbright.


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