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Should I Wash My Fresh Produce with Soap and Water?

A woman washing vegetables with plain water in her sink.
Morakod1977/Shutterstock

If you’ve been vigorously scrubbing your fresh produce with soap and water, we’re here to advise against it. Here’s why.

Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Use Soap on Produce

The CDC has advised us time and again to wash our hands, and regularly clean frequently touched surfaces, to decrease the spread of the coronavirus.

Unfortunately, those suds aren’t formulated with consumption in mind. So, while it’s tempting to scrub those fruits and veggies with soap, it’s actually not safe for your stomach.

According to the USDA, consumers shouldn’t wash produce with detergent or soap, because the cleaning products are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

When you wash produce with soap and water, then eat it, any residue absorbed into your fresh fruits and veggies can cause diarrhea, nausea, or other gastrointestinal issues.

The last thing you need are symptoms that borderline mimic signs of the novel coronavirus, causing more stress for you and your family.

Here’s What to Do Instead

Before eating or preparing any fresh fruit or veggies, wash them under cold water to remove any unwanted dirt or bacteria present on the surface. Cold water is ideal because using hot water may wilt or damage delicate produce.

Use a brush to lightly scrub anything with a firm surface, like potatoes, carrots, or apples. Gently rub all other fruits and veggies while rinsing them under cool running water.

It might also seem tempting to wash everything as soon as you get home. However, any extra moisture on your produce once placed in the fridge can cause it to go bad faster. So, if you do feel it’s necessary to wash them right away, make sure they are 100% dry before being placed back into the fridge.

In a time where everything feels overly complicated, washing your fruits and vegetables is simpler than ever. So, leave the hand soap for, well, your hands.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »

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