How to Clean Fruits & Vegetables With Vinegar

The University of Minnesota Extension recommends washing fresh produce under clean, running water prior to consuming, but adding vinegar to the mix may help kill even more bacteria. A study published in 2003 in the "Journal of Food Protection" found that washing apples with a vinegar and water solution reduced salmonella on the outer skin significantly more than washing with water alone. Jack Bishop, editor of "Cook's Illustrated," performed a similar experiment, and found that vinegar killed approximately 98 percent of bacteria on the surface of fresh fruits and vegetables.

For Smooth-Skinned Fruits and Vegetables

Step 1

Pour the white distilled vinegar into a spray bottle and add 3 cups water. Secure the lid on the bottle and shake well to combine the ingredients.

Step 2

Spray smooth-skinned vegetables and fruits, such as apples and tomatoes, with enough of the vinegar solution to cover the entire surface area, about five or six squirts. Rub gently with your hand to make sure the skin is coated thoroughly.

Step 3

Rinse the fruit or vegetable under cold running water, which removes the residual vinegar flavor. Rub with your hands to help remove every trace of vinegar, shake off the excess water and pat dry with a clean towel before slicing.

For Leafy and Irregular Vegetables

Step 1

Pour the distilled vinegar into a large bowl or basin and add 3 cups water. Stir gently with a large spoon or ladle to mix the liquids thoroughly.

Step 2

Separate the leaves of leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach and turnip greens, and dip them in the vinegar solution. Remove from the bowl, rinse under cold running water, shake off any excess and pat dry before serving.

Step 3

Place irregular vegetables that have many crevices, such as cauliflower and broccoli, in the bowl of vinegar and water. Allow these vegetables to soak for at least two minutes before rinsing under cold, running water. Shake off excess water and pat dry before cutting or serving.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 cup white distilled vinegar

  • Spray bottle

  • Large bowl or basin


If your spray bottle isn't large enough to hold 4 cups of liquid, or if you need a larger amount of the mixture for cleaning large vegetables, use one part vinegar to every three parts water to make the cleaning solution.

Even for fruits and vegetables without edible skin, such as squash and melons, the process is beneficial since bacteria on the outer skin can be transferred to the inner flesh when cut.


Do not wash produce until just before you're ready to prepare and serve. If you wash fruits and vegetables before storing, they will spoil much faster.

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