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How to Clean the “Dirty Dozen” Fruits and Vegetables

The "Dirty Dozen" refers to 12 fruits and vegetables most likely to be covered in pesticide residue. (Yuck!) Here's how to safely clean each one.

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background from freshly harvested strawberries, directly aboveShutterstock/GCapture

Strawberries

To help remove pesticides and bacteria, rinse your fresh strawberries in salt water. Dissolve one teaspoon of salt for every cup of warm water and let cool before adding your strawberries. Let them soak for a couple of minutes, then rinse under cool running water.

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Spinach background full imageShutterstock/virtu studio

Spinach

Simply running water over your spinach probably won’t make it clean enough to eat. (Here’s why.) Instead, fill a clean sink or large bowl with cold water and swish your salad greens around. This dislodges any grit that might be stuck in the leaves.

Learn how to wash all of your farmers market vegetables.

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bright nectarines in the marketShutterstock/lanych

Nectarines

Before biting into a juicy nectarine, give it a baking soda bath. (It’s one of the most effective ways to eliminate germs and bacteria, including E. coli.) Just combine one ounce of baking soda with roughly 100 ounces of water, then let your nectarines soak for 12 to 15 minutes. Rinse and enjoy!

 

 

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Red applesAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Apples

There’s a reason apples at the grocery store are so shiny—they’ve been sprayed with a chemical to give them a waxy sheen. Using a soft bristled brush to gently scrub the outside of the apple will remove this layer much more effectively than rinsing alone.

Are you using the right apple for your recipe? Find out.

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Healthy fruits Red wine grapes background/ dark grapes/ blue grapes/wine grapes,Red wine grapes background/dark grapes,blue grapes,Red Grape in a supermarket local market bunch of grapes ready to eat;Aripai Leangphet/Shutterstock

Grapes

Grapes are one of the hardest fruits to clean properly. The solution? Baking soda and salt. Place your grapes in a bowl, sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons salt and 1-2 teaspoons baking soda. Shake the bowl to evenly coat each grape, then rinse thoroughly with cold water. Psst! This new grape variety tastes like candy.

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A group of ripe peaches in a bowlPNPImages/Shutterstock

Peaches

Because peaches have such thin skin, it’s best to use your hands (not a bristled brush) when washing. Even when you’re peeling peaches to make a delicious dessert like peach cobbler, you should still wash the fruit first. If not, you risk some of the leftover pesticides soaking into the peach itself.

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Cherry basket / Sweet cherry background/ cherry with leafShutterstock/Shulevskyy Volodymyr

Cherries

Cherries, like apples and grapes, tend to have a waxy chemical coating. You can remove it by soaking fruit in a vinegar solution. Fill a large bowl with water, add a cup of distilled white vinegar and then pour in your cherries. Let ’em soak for 15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

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Beautiful Pear Yummy Juicy FruitShutterstock/Faraz Hyder Jafri

Pears

The fruit and vegetable wash you see for sale is often not effective, and can also contain chemicals like chlorine. DIY a safer wash at home by mixing lemon juice, vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spritz on your pear, rub gently and then rinse with water.

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red tomatoes background. Group of tomatoesShutterstock / Ewa Studio

Tomatoes

A quick rinse under the faucet won’t cut it for tomatoes (or any produce, really). The key is to hold your tomatoes under cold running water for 30-60 seconds, and rub gently to remove germs, dirt and pesticide residue.

 

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Heads of celery. Close-upValentyn Volkov/Shutterstock

Celery

Always separate celery stalks before washing (don’t wash the whole bunch together) to make sure you get in all the nooks and crannies! If you can’t get rid of those brown streaks at the base of the stalk, cut that section off before eating.

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Fresh organic potato stand out among many large background potatos in the market. Heap of potatos root. Close-up potatos texture. Macro potatoShutterstock/Titus and Co

Potatoes

Your dishwasher is for more than washing dishes. It can also wash your potatoes! Load your spuds into the racks (like you would your plates), then run the dishwasher without soap. This is a great—and very efficient—technique when you have a lot of potatoes to prepare.

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Colorful green , red and yellow peppers paprika backgroundShutterstock/AlexeiLogvinovich

Bell Peppers

When washing bell peppers, we recommend using cold or lukewarm water. Why? Rinsing a cold vegetable with hot water can actually cause bacteria to soak into the vegetable.

Amanda Tarlton
As both a freelance lifestyle writer and editor for a national teen magazine, Amanda spends most of her time creating #content. In those (rare) moments when she's not at her desk typing furiously, she's likely teaching a hot yoga class, reading the latest chick-lit or baking a batch of her famous scones.

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