How Long Should I Soak Vegetables in Vinegar for Cleaning?

Many harsh chemicals such as pesticides, antibiotics, preservatives, etc. are on our food which must be washed away. If we don’t wash our vegetables properly, the chemicals, unseen germs, and harmful substances will slowly and steadily cause harm to our immunity. So, how can we keep our food absolutely chemical-free?

Soaking vegetables in a vinegar and water solution is the best way to deep clean them. All you need is a bowl of water. Add 1 part vinegar (for 3 parts of water) and soak your vegetables in this solution for a maximum of 15 – 20 minutes.

Tada! In just 15 – 20 minutes, your fruits and vegetables will be free from bacteria, chemicals, and other harmful particles. Once they are out of the vinegar solution, you might want to scrub and rinse them with tap water to get rid of the pungent vinegar flavour or stubborn particles. But, do you think vinegar is safe to use? Is this the only way to purify our vegetables? Let’s figure it out!

Is it Safe to Wash Vegetables in Vinegar?

Before I answer yes, it is safe to use vinegar to deep clean your vegetables, let’s understand what vinegar is and how it is a good choice.

Vinegar is majorly made up of acetic acid and water where the amount of acetic acid is around 4-8% only. This means that vinegar is acetic acid in dilute form and acetic acid is an organic compound. Acetic acid is also used in various food items as a food additive So, yes! It’s safe to use vinegar for cleaning purposes.

Now, the next question that might be popping into your head is the amount of water in vinegar. Vinegar is mostly water. More than 90% of the solution is simply water then why is there a need of mixing vinegar in water for washing vegetables?

What is the Ratio of Water to Vinegar when Cleaning Vegetables?

Although vinegar is 90+ percent water, still it is too strong to use without diluting it in water. If you taste just a drop of vinegar, it is too sour to handle. This indicates that vinegar is a strong solution and it is very important to make an appropriate cleaning solution by further diluting vinegar with water.

Usually, the most effective cleaning solution can be made using 3 parts water and 1 part vinegar. This ratio is safe for fruits and vegetables to soak for 15 – 20 minutes. If you feel that you want to soak it for a longer time, then 30 minutes is also a good time for edibles to stay in the vinegar solution.

What Does Soaking Vegetables in Vinegar Do?

The molecular structure of vinegar absorbs water molecules and this creates a strong cleaning solution. This cleaning solution has the power to dissolve mineral deposits, harmful particles, grease, grime, and dirt leaving your food cleaner and healthier for human consumption. It also kills various bacteria and germs sticking to your food.

Does Washing Vegetables with Vinegar Really Help Remove Pesticides?

Pesticides are of different types and have various chemicals in them. When sprayed on plants, these chemicals stick to our food too and they are not healthy for the human body thus it is essential to wash them off. And, the vinegar solution is proven to remove various types of chemical residue on vegetables.

Do Organic Vegetables Need to be Washed with Vinegar?

When we hear the word “organic” we assume that this produce is 100% free from harsh pesticides. Well, that could be true, but still, organic fruits and vegetables do have bacteria, dirt, and harmful particles sticking to them. This is why it is essential to wash the organic vegetables properly using the vinegar solution.

How to Wash Vegetables with Vinegar (Step-by-Step)

It’s convenient, cheap, and effective to use white vinegar for deep cleaning the produce. Here is the quick cleaning method:

1. Materials Required

Gather a large bowl, white vinegar, and a measuring cup. It is all you need to make this cleaning solution.

2. Make Vinegar Solution


To make this solution, first, you must check how many fruits/vegetables you want to soak in the bowl. If you are pouring 3 cups of water to soak your produce properly, you need to add 1 cup of white vinegar to make your vinegar solution. If you want double the solution then double the amount, you can add 6 cups water to 2 cups vinegar.

3. Soak Produce


Soak Produce


Make sure you have enough solution to completely submerge your produce. Let your vegetables enjoy bathing in vinegar solution for 15 – 20 minutes.

4. Rinse Well

After 20 minutes, you can simply take the produce out of the vinegar solution to scrub and rinse under tap water. It’s important to scrub to get rid of any stubborn particles/dirt.


How to Store Vegetables After Cleaning with Vinegar?

Once the vegetables are clean, they are ready to go through proper drying before seeing the refrigerator. If you want to dry them instantly, use a drying towel/paper towel to completely dry the vegetables before storing them. Otherwise, you might just want to lay the vegetables on the drying mat on your countertop for air drying.

Once the vegetables are completely dry, you can simply store them in your refrigerator’s produce bin. If the vegetable needs to be stored at room temperature, make sure it’s completely dry before putting it in your produce basket.

Can You Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Clean Vegetables?

Make Vinegar Solution


Most people are not a fan of the pungent smell of vinegar or they might be allergic as I am. So yes, apple cider vinegar is a great substitute for white vinegar to clean vegetables. If you want to use apple cider vinegar, you only need 2-3 tablespoons for 8 cups of water to make a perfect produce wash.

Can You Use Cleaning Vinegar to Wash Vegetables?

Yes, you can, but you should not. Confused? Let me make it clear. In most cases, cleaning vinegar is simply a stronger version of white vinegar. It has more percentage of acetic acid than white vinegar. So, you might want to use it in lesser quantities to make a cleaning solution for your vegetables.

But, if you read the label of cleaning vinegar carefully, there is a good chance that there will be a warning that it should not be consumed. Thus, there might be some other chemicals added or concentrated acetic acid that might cause more harm than good. This is why it is better not to use cleaning vinegar to wash produce.

If you are out of white vinegar and apple cider vinegar, I have some other ideas as well.

What are Some Alternative Ways to Clean Vegetables?

Here are some interesting ideas to make produce wash using commonly found items in your house. The interesting part is that you might have never known this disinfecting side of the following items.

Hydrogen Peroxide Castile Soap


Citrus Essential oils

Salt Baking Soda
For 1 gallon of water, you need only 1 tbsp of 3% hydrogen peroxide to make a vegetable wash.



For 1 gallon of water, you need only 1 tsp of castile soap +5-6 drops of any citrus essential oil.



Soaking vegetables in 2% salt water can remove a lot of harmful pesticides, germs, dirt, and grime. For 1 litre of water, you need two teaspoons of baking soda.

For all the above solutions, you need to soak the vegetables for at least 5-10 minutes. After that, scrub them and give them a good rinse with water. Finally, allow it to dry completely before storing.

Final Thoughts

There are so many homemade cleaners you can make in just a few minutes to deep clean your fruits and vegetables. But, there are different opinions. Some people find one solution better than the other one. You might want to check some recent studies available online on how these cleaners work on produce to remove unwanted germs, particles, and chemicals.

In case you are still confused about which cleaner you should make and you feel doubtful, try using store-bought produce cleaners.