This Is How to Wash Fruits and Vegetables to Remove Pesticides

Pesticides are biological or chemical agents used for protection of crops from weeds, insects, and infections. They are used on vegetables, fruits, rice, wheat, olives, as well as non-food crops like grass, cotton, and flowers.

People are exposed to these pesticides mostly by eating these foods. However, they can cause abdominal cramps, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, confusion, and anxiety.

Children, fetuses, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are most at risk of negative health effects from pesticide exposure.

Luckily, you can use one natural ingredient to wash off most of the toxic pesticides from the fresh produce you eat every day. Researchers explain baking soda is powerful enough to clean the fruits and vegetables you buy from the harmful pesticides.

The Research

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts analyzed the effectiveness of different washing agents, including baking soda, in cleaning the apple flesh and peel from pesticide residues.

They contaminated organic gala apples with phosmet and thiabendazole (the two most common pesticides). The first is a popular insecticide, and the second is a fungicide that’s extremely effective in penetrating the apple peel.

Then, they washed the apples with 3 separate liquids. These were 1% baking soda/water solution, tap water, and a US EPA’s approved commercial bleaching solution. In fact, this bleaching solution is widely used for cleaning fruits and vegetables.

The apples were soaked in the bleach solution, rinsed in running tap water, or submerged in a baking soda solution, each time for two minutes.

The Results

The outcome of the experiment showed that the baking soda solution is the most effective way to clean pesticides from fresh produce. However, it took 12-15 minutes to clean the apples from the pesticides completely.

More precisely, they scrubbed the apples gently for 12 minutes until 80% of thiabendazole was gone. When it comes to phosmet, it took 15 minutes to remove 96% of it.

How to Use It at Home

You can use this efficient, eco-friendly produce wash to remove pesticide residue from hard-skinned fruits and vegetables in two ways.

The first one is to fill a container with water and add a few tablespoons of baking soda. Then, put the fresh produce in the container and let it soak for a few minutes. Finally, rinse them with cold water.

Another way to use this ingredient to clean your fruits and vegetables from pesticide residue is to sprinkle some baking soda on them and scrub it away using a produce brush.

This is excellent for muskmelons and similar fresh produce which has rinds with nooks and crannies ideal for trapping dirt and microbes.

Thing to Consider

Even though a lot of people peel most fruits and vegetables to help reduce the pesticide residue, they lose the bioactive compounds of the peels.

Therefore, it’s best to keep the skin in most cases, such as in apples, and wash the produce with a baking soda solution to effectively remove the pesticides.


The research showed that baking soda solution can completely remove phosmet and thiabendazole in and on apples. Also, it showed that the standard post-harvest method of washing the produce with a bleach solution is not entirely effective.

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