DIY: Natural Fruit and Veggie Wash

Text and images by Lindsey Rose Johnson
As Spring is here and Summer is quickly approaching, it’s a great time to think about all the delicious fruits and vegetables that will be growing in our gardens, hitting the roadside stands and appearing in our CSAs.  Whether or not you buy organic produce, it’s helpful to have an easy DIY Natural Fruit and Veggie Spray next to your sink.
Sure you could buy it, but it’s inexpensive to make at home and chances are you probably already have all of the ingredients in your cupboard.

Not only will it help remove any harmful pesticide sprays or waxes, it helps keep microorganisms at bay to keep fruits and vegetables lasting days longer.  (It’s true!)


For years I have been using white vinegar to clean my leafy greens when I bring them in from my garden.  I always wash my other produce and didn’t see the need to buy a commercial fruit and veggie wash spray.  Then I started thinking about the difference between apples I bought at the store and apples from my neighbor’s tree.  No wax.  The same with homegrown vs. store-bought cucumbers.  I wondered if maybe it would be better to start using a dedicated fruit and veggie spray instead of relying on peeling.  Fruit and veggie peels are so nutritious and full of fiber.  No more peeling if I can help it!  The spray can help remove some of that wax.  Which got me to thinking that it would be good for other fruits and veggies too.

So I made my own wash, testing it out on a bunch of grapes from the grocery store.

Grapes are not waxed.  But one thing I’ve always had trouble with grapes is the mold that quickly spreads from one grape to the whole bunch.  I hate that!  Before we can even finish the grapes, most of the bunch is squishy and moldy and they’ve gone to waste.  I want clean grapes, after all I’m not trying to make wine with them.  Microorganisms are not welcome!  But I also want them to last more than one or two days.

Before DIY Fruit and Veggie Wash

I quickly go through and pull off any moldy or soft grapes before I wash them.  Mold spores and natural yeasts are still on the grapes.  That’s some of that white bloom you see on them.  Mold will continue to spread even with the moldy ones gone, even when refrigerated.  You never know how long your produce has been sitting at the grocery store or what was done to it along the way after it was picked.  (Another reason to join a CSA and buy local when you can.  Unfortunately I love grapes and they only grow here in the summer.)

By spraying the grapes with my DIY Fruit and Veggie Spray, it helps remove and/or kill lingering microorganisms.  And the result?  Grapes that last much longer and don’t go moldy before I can eat them.

Sprayed with DIY Fruit and Veggie Wash

This fruit and veggie spray contains Grapefruit Seed Extract, a powerful, natural antimicrobial.  A little goes a long way.  It’s completely safe to use and I always have a bottle on hand.  I’ve used it to successfully get rid of thrush (candida), but that’s another story for another day. :)  It also contains other natural inhibitors like vinegar and lemon juice.

Clean grapes after sitting with the DIY Fruit and Veggie Wash for 5-10 minutes and rinsed well.

You just spray it all over the fruit and after 5-10 minutes, rinse it off, and then let the fruit (or veggies) air dry.  Excess moisture is another common cause of food spoilage.  It’s good to let things dry out a bit before storing properly.  Check out my notes below for other tips and helpful information about that.

And without further ado, here is the recipe for easy, natural DIY Fruit and Veggie Spray.

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DIY: Natural Fruit and Veggie Wash
Author: 
Recipe type: miscellaneous
 
Recipe for homemade natural fruit and veggie wash.
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon organic lemon juice
  • 10 drops grapefruit seed extract
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • ¾ cup white vinegar
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a pitcher and pour into a spray bottle. Spray onto produce (except mushrooms) and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Rinse well.
  2. Store fruits and veggies properly (either on the counter top or refrigerator).
Notes
Recipe source: food.com

My notes:

  • I recommend mixing the ingredients in a pitcher first because the baking soda reacts with the vinegar and lemon juice and will overflow from the top of the spray bottle.  Use a funnel to pour the mixed wash solution into a clean sprayer bottle.
  • This spray keeps for a long time.
  • I have used this on a lot of different fruits and vegetables.  I found it particularly helpful with fresh berries (blueberries and strawberries especially) and found they lasted days longer after being sprayed with the Fruit and Veggie Spray than without.
  • Let fruits and veggies air dry or lightly pat dry with paper or cloth towels as extra moisture can lead to spoilage.
  • Store fruits and veggies properly.
  • Use especially for thin-skinned fruits and veggies that will not be peeled before eating.  For produce with thicker skins, the spray will still help inhibit the growth of mold, so spray it onto the peels as directed above, rinse and pat dry before storing or consuming.  Always wash the outside of whole fruits and vegetables before cutting as bacteria and other microorganisms can be transferred to the inside.
  • Don’t use on leafy greens and lettuces.  Instead mix a few tablespoons of white vinegar with plenty of cold water to help remove insects, loosen dirt, and kill microorganisms.

If you’re looking for more information on natural fruit and veggies wash, Apartment Therapy has recipes for two more washes.

One last tip

If you’re looking for a fantastic veggie brush, I highly recommend the Full Circle Ring Vegetable Brush.It’s wicked awesome at getting into tiny crevices in homegrown carrots and potatoes.

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10 Comments

    1. Natasa, good question! I do think it will be fine without it. You can buy GSE online and it is also available in health food stores or places like Whole Foods. It might even be available at pharmacies.

  1. Hi! Do you think a pure grapefruit essential oil would have the same effect as the grapefruit seed extract? Thanks!

    1. Hi! I’m not 100% sure, but I would say probably not. Grapefruit essential oil is so great for a lot of things, but I don’t know if it has the same antimicrobial benefits. That being said, you don’t have to add it in. You can make it without the GSE.

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