How to Clean Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

There are 2 issues to consider when cleaning produce: first, removing pesticides from store-bought non-organic fruits & vegetables and second, cleaning bacteria, worms and pests from organic produce. Both require separate instructions for how to best clean. This is really important for someone eating a high raw food diet because most of your food will be in the raw, uncooked natural state!

Washing produce is especially important for people eating a high raw food diet.

Always use a dedicated bucket used only for cleaning your fruits and veggies. That means, do NOT use the same bucket to wash laundry or anything else. You do not want to re-contaminate your food with more chemicals! If you use chemicals to wash your sink then do NOT clean your produce in the sink. Use a clean bucket instead. I have a small bucket and a large bucket so if I buy a small amount of produce, I can always use the smaller bucket. On big shopping days, I use the large one.

How to Wash Organic Fruits & Veggies

The biggest issue with organic produce is unwanted pests like worms and parasites, and even worse, their microscopic eggs. Several times I’ve cut open a head of raw organic cabbage and found live worms inside. This is the reality of eating organic! What can I say, the bugs have good taste in food! This is how nature intended it. Interestingly enough, when I soak my produce as explained below, I will sometimes see worms or slugs float to the surface of the water and then it’s easy to scoop them out.

For organic produce, fill your bucket with water, fill it with fruits and veggies and add 20-30 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) to the water for a large-size bucket. In a small bucket, you can add 12-15 drops. Let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse. GSE is fantastic for killing fungus and bacteria and is not in any way harmful to you. In fact, it’s very good for you!

GSE is available at any local health food store or can be purchased easily online.

Once you get into the habit of doing this, it becomes an easy part of your routine. I like to wash everything as soon as I get home before I put it in the fridge so I don’t get lazy and forget to do it later. Especially for raw foodists, it is essential to wash your produce correctly. I learned the hard way and wound up with 21 feet of intestinal roundworms, which in part was from 3 years on a raw food diet without cleaning my produce properly. To simply rinse with water is not enough – this will not kill the unwanted microbes.

How to Clean Non-Organic Fruits & Veggies

I highly recommend Activated Charcoal Powder to pull the chemical pesticides out of your non-organic produce. This is how it’s done: Fill your bucket with water and add 2 tsp. of loose “activated charcoal powder” (in Thailand this is sold in health food stores specially as a vegetable cleaner).

In the USA, I was able to find medicinal-grade loose Activate Charcoal Powder online. The other option is to use 3-4 capsules of Activate Charcoal Powder into your water. The capsules can be found at any local health food store on online at vitacost.com. You do NOT want to use charcoal brickets or burnt toast – this is not activated charcoal and will not work (I actually had a client whose naturopath told her to do that, unreal!).

Soak all fruits and veggies for 10 minutes in the charcoal/water mixture, then rinse. When I’ve done this in Thailand, I was amazed to see all of my produce come back to life – everything looked fresher and the veggies seemed to stay fresher, longer in the refrigerator.

Internet Urban Legend is Incorrect

Please note: I have seen some websites that wrongfully promote Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) as a way to pull pesticides from produce. While GSE is great for killing bugs and harmful bacteria, it does NOT remove pesticides out of fruit and vegetables.

Activated Charcoal is an absorbing agent, like a sponge; while GSE is a cleaner of bacteria.

Ideally, if you have the time and patience, you should first soak your non-organic produce in a Charcoal/Water mixture for 10 minutes, rinse, and then soak in 12-15 drops of GSE/water mixture for 10 minutes to clean any bacteria and parasite eggs.

Organic Food is the best food ever, and even better when it’s cleaned well!

Other Ways to Clean Organic Produce

Some additional methods for cleaning produce are described in the book Juice Fasting and Detoxification by Steve Meyerowitz:

Washing Pests out of Produce:

Lemon Bath– Fill Sink (or bucket) with cold water, add 4 tbsp. salt and the juice of one lemon. Soak for 10 minutes then rinse under cold water. (Can also substitute lemon with ¼ cup of raw apple cider vinegar).

Clorox Bath– Use 1 teaspoon Clorox bleach per gallon of water. Let produce sit in bath for 5-10 minutes. Drain; soak again in fresh water for 5 minutes. (Remember, there is chlorine in your drinking water. This is how many undeveloped nations wash their produce).

HCL Bath– Pour one ounce hydrochloric acid into 3 quarts water. This is equivalent to 1% solution. Soak for 5-10 minutes and rinse. (Use only food-grade quality HCL).

My Favorite Method

From all of these options, I use the Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) to wash my produce. If the produce is not organic, I normally still just use the GSE. In rare cases when I know the food is over-sprayed with chemicals like in Panama, I will use the Activated Charcoal Powder.

When traveling, I carry a small bowl, colander and a bottle of GSE so I still can wash my produce on the road.

For more on how to start a raw food diet, how to do a detox at home or what minerals you may specifically be deficient in, book a private health consult with me via Skype.

How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Coaching Session:

1. Take photos of your eyes with a digital camera.
2. Email the photos to me for approval.
3. We schedule a time to meet via phone or Skype!

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Jennifer Thompson has been working with raw food, juices, smoothies and detox for over two decades to help people heal. Today, she shares her expertise worldwide, offering lectures, workshops, training and one-on-one consultations at various health and detox retreat centers. She provides Iridology Readings & Health Coaching via Skype and Phone to clients and continues to educate, motivate and inspire others on their journey of healing. When she’s not working, you’ll find her hiking in the mountains, power-walking along the sea or globe-trotting to a new and exotic health destination.
29 replies
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear Tony,

      I would try to avoid aluminum buckets as you don’t really need extra aluminum…What other types of metal buckets do you have to choose from? (sorry but I don’t know what types of metal are sold where you live) I personally use my sink now that I have a good sink in my kitchen, so that’s a ceramic sink for soaking and washing veggies. When I was traveling, I used plastic buckets (in the idea of doing the best I could with what I had). I would think that a better choice over a typical plastic bucket would be one made from BPA-free plastic. I hope that helps!

      To your health,

      Jennifer

      Reply
  1. ellen
    ellen says:

    Hi..Jen.i am busy with a 40day water fast i finished 26days already..i drink warm water…..past few days i vomit…when i drink the water…any reason why?

    Reply
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear Ellen,

      Please contact by email through my contact form and I will be happy to work with you, thank you! (I cannot answer this type of question in a comment and it is not relevant to this post, thanks for your professional understanding!)

      To your health,

      Jennifer

      Reply
  2. Lily
    Lily says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    I have heard and normally use Bicarbonate soda to soak around 10 to 30 mins. Or salt for that matter but I don’t use salt.

    Please let me know if this is just as good.

    Thanks, Lily

    Reply
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear Lily,

      Actually I never considered bicarbonate soda (baking soda) since I never really thought of it as something strong enough to kill bacteria or pests…but I do see that people are using it as a natural pest control so maybe it will work! I guess the real test would be finding some produce with bugs on it, cleaning with baking soda and seeing what happens. My “gut” tells me I would probably add vinegar to the mix to bring in another level of disinfection. I hope that helps and thanks for sharing what works for you!

      My best,

      Jennifer

      Reply
  3. Ana ANderson
    Ana ANderson says:

    Hello,
    Can i remove the veggies i just washed in the carbon or gse water and put other in that same water after the 10 mins?

    Reply
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Hi Ana,

      I usually discard the water, rinse the tub and put fresh water + GSE for the next round of veggies. In the rare case that the water looks really clean – sometimes this happens for fruit more than veggies since veggies tend to have more dirt – then I will re-use the water + GSE for 2 or 3 soaks.

      I hope that helps!

      My best,

      Jennifer

      Reply
  4. Pascal Yang
    Pascal Yang says:

    Couple of months back I found out roasting your own raw coffee beans really gives you wonderful coffee without the carbon. Those that we normally buy in supermarket or shops are burnt black when they roasted them. It’s carcinogenic when it becomes carbon. No wonder I didn’t feel good after I drank them. My brother died of cancer at age 42 drinking carcinogenic coffee and smoking 40 ciggies a day. Ciggies plus burnt coffee sure way to go.
    I changed to coffee from chinese tea because good chinese tea is about 6 to 8 times more expensive than coffee. If you have tried the real expensive chinese tea you would start to look down on the normal chinese tea simply because of the big difference in taste and the good feeling aftertaste.
    When I fast I drink small tiny cups of my home roasted coffee (about 3) and I fart a little but the fart doesn’t smell at all , a good sign the colon is in good state and the fart indicates my fasting is working nicely.
    When you home roast your coffee you will find the coffee bean is brown not black and some are sort of still a little raw, that’s when the nutrients are still there and the aroma and taste are so much better than the bitter taste of carbon I had from the shop coffee.
    Big commercial entrepreneurs are threatened by people like you and me because we take things in our own hands now. They can get lost with the advertising we will do the right thing. Good day.

    Reply
  5. Louise Burns
    Louise Burns says:

    Hi jennifer I am going to Dominican Republic soon for a month to help in “Deaf search”. We teach sign language and the bible to the deaf. Anyways some friends who are already there recommended bringing the grapeseed extract. But now i think i will also bring the charcoal.(Along with essential oils like peppermint, lavender, tea tree oil which my search has informed me is good for repelling all sorts of critters from noseeums to rats) MY question tho is doesn’t charcoal bind to things and actually remove not only bad but good from the body. So is there any worry in taking my herbs and enzymes etc… that charcoal will make them less effective? Thanks louise

    Reply
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Hi Louise,

      If you are using the charcoal powder to clean your veggies, then it will all be well and truly rinsed away after you finish washing. Charcoal picks up pesticides and rinses off, then your veggies are cleaner and more safe to eat. If you are taking charcoal capsules for food poisoning, then you will only be taking on that occasion and it’s not the end of the world to lose some nutrition from one meal of food if it saves you from puking up your guts for 3 or 4 days (at which point you would lose all nutrition from any food anyway!).

      You should NOT be taking charcoal capsules every day as a supplement because 1) there is no need to do so and 2) it will also absorb nutrition from your food. Use it like a natural medicine, only when needed and all will be fine!

      Safe travels!

      Jennifer

      Reply
    • Louise Burns
      Louise Burns says:

      LOL! OK that make sense.. I appreciate your help and quick response
      I am a little anxious as Ive never been out of the country and im trying to take any wise precautions.
      louise

      Reply
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Hi Nora,

      It’s best to consult with your medical doctor with this question in case you have any pre-existing conditions or are on any other medications. Thanks for your kindest understanding!

      To your health,

      Jennifer

      Reply
  6. Scott
    Scott says:

    How big a bucket for 12-15 drops of GSE? 1 gallon? 5 gallon? I’m sure the dilution would affect the results. GImme a number! 🙂 Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Hi Scott,

      As a general rule, the bucket I use is about 14 litres and I will add 15-20 drops of GSE to my veggies if the bucket is completely full. For a half bucket I will use about 12-15 drops of GSE. Of course, I also rinse everything well. Hope that helps and happy eating!

      My best,

      Jennifer

      Reply
      • Scott
        Scott says:

        Perfect! Thanks so much!!! Right now I’ve been using a large salad spinner (just the outer part) to soak and that’s 2.25 gallons filled. I use a smaller bowl to rinse and do it in 2-3 “jobs”. I may end up getting some dedicated bowls just for this purpose, though. Been raw 4 months and apparently just started washing my veggies correctly. Great info you’ve got here!

        Reply
  7. Jim
    Jim says:

    I would also appreciate an answer to Simones’s question regarding prevention of amebiasis in the Philippines. I am currently living in that country, recovering from that parasite. The experience was not fun and I don’t wish to repeat it. Unfortunately, little to no information is available locally on this specific topic. Thanks.

    Reply
  8. web site
    web site says:

    This post is definitely getting bookmarked. Despite dealing with some of the same veggies every season, I still find myself asking google “how to store/ clean…” before I put my veggies away. Thank you for the great tips!

    Best regards!

    Reply
  9. Davie
    Davie says:

    Hi. For non organic produce like baby watermelons, after I clean them how do I wash the buckets without using chemicals 🙂

    Reply
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      Hi Davie,

      Use Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) or vinegar diluted in water to clean your bucket. Blessings to your health!

      Jennifer

      Reply
  10. leah
    leah says:

    Hello. I’m looking at the page you recommended for activated charcoal, but i am confused on which to purchase. Does it need to be suitable to ingest? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      Hi Leah,

      In the link I provided, the activated charcoal is indicated as food grade quality and suitable for internal ingestion to be taken internally for the treatment of poisoning, drug overdose, food poisoning, severe diarrhea and vomiting. Since you are using it to wash veggies, you can use any of the food grade types (coconut shell, bamboo, etc).(Link here: http://www.buyactivatedcharcoal.com/medicinal_charcoal )

      Thank you!

      Jennifer

      Reply
  11. Simone
    Simone says:

    Hi, sorry for questioning I’ll be live in Philippines and there is amebiasis on the vegetables there. Can I wash out it with the method above? Thank you in advance for the answer

    Reply
  12. Florin
    Florin says:

    What about the ‘Fruit and vegetable wash’ solution made by Earth Friendly Products often found at Whole Foods?! Did you try that? It’s a coconut based cleaner that’s suppose to ‘remove soil, dirt, wax and other contaminants’…
    Though to answer my own question, it doesn’t seem to remove wax from non-organic shiny apples 😉 Though I might be wrong since I didn’t use a microscope or any chemical test to determine if it works…
    Now that I think about it, the wax seals the pesticides on the skin since it is applied right before the apples hit the stores… The wax is waterproof, so even if the pesticides would wash away with plain water, the wax does a good job of ‘protecting’ the pesticides 😉 I guess the safest way would be to peel the waxy apple and discard the peel…
    But not all fruit can be peeled…

    Reply

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