3 Simple Homemade Veggie Washes

More than 9 million people get sick every year from dirty food, and according to a recent study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, fruits and vegetables contaminated with harmful bacteria cause 46 percent of those illnesses.

Good food hygiene that we practice at home, every day, can have a significant impact on our public health. It’s true! We can help prevent the spread of food-borne illnesses just by taking time to wash not only our hands, but also our fruits and vegetables.

First, make sure your  clean your work surface, i.e. counter-tops, cutting boards. You can wash the surfaces with warm water, or a commercial preparation specifically made for countertops. Remember, sponges harbor bacteria, so if you use them be sure to clean them frequently. (paper towels are preferred)

This  20-second plain-water rinse will get rid of some bacteria, but for a more thorough germ-killing rinse, these easy, homemade veggie washes will help cut down on any bugs that could make you sick.

Super-Simple Veggie Wash

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar

1 cup cold tap water in a spray bottle

Mix, shake well, and apply to your produce. Rinse with tap water before cooking or serving.

Leafy Green Wash

1 cup distilled white vinegar

3 cups water

Mix the water and vinegar together in a bowl. Allow your greens to soak in the bowl for about 2 minutes, then rinse them well.

This wash, which researchers from the magazine Cook’s Illustrated found killed 98 percent of bacteria on food, is good for leafy greens because greens are more likely than other forms of produce to be contaminated with E. coli bacteria, according to the CDC.

If you want even more of the germ-killing boost, add a tablespoon or two of salt. A study in the Journal of Food Protection found that vinegar’s ability to kill E. coli bacteria was “significantly enhanced” when salt was added to the mix.

All-Purpose Germ Killer

1 spray bottleful of undiluted white vinegar

1 spray bottleful of undiluted hydrogen peroxide

Spray your food first with the vinegar and then with the hydrogen peroxide. Rinse thoroughly.

You can use this on produce or on raw meat to kill E. coli, Listeria, and salmonella bacteria, according to a study in Food Microbiology. You can also use the mixture to disinfect your countertops.

Alternately, spray the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide on a surface, then let it dry. Don’t rinse or wipe the surfaces down afterwards.

Note that these veggie washes will remove some pesticide residues from non-organic produce along with bacteria, but because many pesticides are “systemic”; they wind up in the meat of the produce, where you can’t remove them. That’s why it’s important to buy certified-organic produce as much as possible.


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