Why You Shouldn’t Wash Fruit with Soap

Fresh fruits are delicious and an essential part of a balanced diet. It’s natural to want to ensure the fruit you bring home for your family is clean and ready to eat, especially if you’re not buying pre-washed produce. However, there are improper methods to prepare your produce, including using soap to clean it. Soap leaves a residue, and because fruit is porous, soap can seep into it and stay there, even with thorough rinsing.

Ingesting hand, dish, and any other kind of soap can cause vomiting or diarrhea, or irritate your gastrointestinal system. Plus, using it to wash your fruit will change the flavor and make it taste soapy. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend not only avoiding soap to clean your fruit, but also bleach solutions, detergents, and commercial produce cleaners. Instead, focus on using proper buying, handling, and cleaning methods; that way you can ensure your fruit is safe to eat — and free of any soapy residue.

How to properly wash fruit

Water running over strawberries in colander

Safe handling of fruit begins at the market. Choose produce that is undamaged and keep it away from any raw meat in your cart. At home, proper storage helps keep fruit fresh, so it’s a good idea to learn how to best store each kind of fruit in order to avoid any mistakes. Again, keep your fruit away from raw meat in the fridge and on the counter, and make sure your knives and cutting boards are sanitized before using them.

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When it comes to cleaning fruit, first wash your hands with soap and water, then wash your fruit under running water. You can use a clean scrub brush on firm fruit, but using your hands on softer fruit will suffice. If you buy pre-washed fruit (and it is labeled as such on the package), you can skip this step.

And what about other popular methods of cleaning fruit, like adding baking soda or using a vinegar solution? While there’s no harm in using them, they’re not necessary, either. So skip the extra steps, give your fruit a good scrub under running water, and enjoy.

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