The Right Way To Clean Your Produce

Eating fruits and vegetables every day is vital for your overall health, but you might be at risk of getting sick if you're not cleaning your produce correctly. 

The FDA recommends washing your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling your produce. Make sure your cutting board, knives, and anything else you'll be using are clean. Then, rub the fruit or vegetable under cool, running water. Cleaning agents like vinegar, soap, and produce wash are not necessary. You only need water to clean your produce. 

Use a vegetable brush on firm produce like cucumbers and melons. Dry with a clean paper towel or cloth. Remove the outside leaves on leafy vegetables like lettuce. Be gentle when cleaning mushrooms, berries, and any other produce that's likely to fall apart. Run them under cool water and gently wipe with your finger. 

Store in your refrigerator at 40 degrees or colder. The CDC adds that you need to store your produce separately from your meats and seafood. So, why do you need to clean your produce before eating?

Why you need to clean your produce

According to the FDA, about 48 million people get sick every year from food contaminated with germs. There's also a concern about getting COVID-19 from fresh produce because there are so many people touching and handling the produce — from the farm to the grocery store and every place in between — there can be a lot of germs. The same goes for farmers market produce. That doesn't include the number of people sneezing, coughing, talking around the product, and getting droplets on the fruits and vegetables. So its wise to clean produce to avoid getting salmonella, E. coli (which can cause food poisoning), or listeria from contaminated fruits and vegetables (via the CDC).

Use the directions above to properly clean your fruits and vegetables when you get home from the grocery store or farmers market. Store them away from meats and seafood to avoid cross-contamination. Washing your produce will significantly reduce your chances of getting sick from contaminated food.