A vegetable wash is a solution made for washing vegetables and fruits. Vegetable washes may be commercial or made at home. They are designed to clean fruits and vegetables of excess dirt and pesticide since water alone is not always an effective cleaner. Even when safe levels of pesticides are used, residue often still remains on produce. Pesticide residue and wax may be especially difficult to remove from produce with water only.
A homemade vegetable wash can be created by filling a clean dishpan, sink or bowl with cold water and adding 1/4 cup (60 ml) vinegar and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) salt to the water. The fruit or vegetables to be washed should soak in the salt and vinegar water for about 15 to 30 minutes. The vinegar helps remove pesticide and wax and the salt helps loosen dirt.
Soap, bleach or cleaners should never be used to clean vegetables and fruits, as these products may irritate the digestive tract. Commercial vegetable washes are available in soak and spray varieties. A vegetable wash for soaking is often in a powder form that is made to add by the spoonful to a sink or bowl of water. Spray vegetable washes are designed to be sprayed directly onto produce and then be wiped dry before eating the fruit or vegetable.
All fruits and vegetables should be washed after purchasing them. When produce is to be stored in the refrigerator, it should be stored as is and then washed with a vegetable wash just before eating. Even organic vegetables and fruits need to be washed carefully as they may have dirt build-up on them. Harmful bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella enteritidis or Typhimurium (Salmonella) and Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria) may also be found on produce if the soil it was grown in was contaminated through the feces of bacteria-infected cattle. Tomatoes, melons and sprouts are especially known for being susceptible to harboring harmful bacteria.
Particles of the contaminated soil could be on the produce. Listeria causes the potentially life-threatening illness Listeriosis. Salmonella and E. coli bacteria cause diarrhea and cramping. Not only is it important to thoroughly clean vegetables and fruit with a vegetable wash, but it's equally crucial not to select produce with any open, bruised or moldy areas, as bacteria can get inside the food.