How to remove pesticides from your fruits and vegetables

Tomatoes washed to remove pesticide. Credit African Harvesters

How to remove pesticides from your fruits and vegetables

A lot of people wonder how they can remove pesticides from their fruits and vegetables. If you are one of them, I have good news for you. This post highlights six proven DIY ways of removing pesticides from fruits and vegetables. Although you cannot completely remove pesticides from your food, you will be sure to get rid of some, making your food safer than it would have been if you did not take any precautions.

Heart of fruits and vegetables. Image Credit: Belmonth Health &Wealth

Make use of running tap water

Just washing your fruits and vegetables under running water, you will be able to get rid of most the pesticide residues on the surface. Washing your fruits under running water does not only get rid of the physical debris: if you leave it under running water for several minutes, residues of pesticides which were on it will be washed away as well. If you intend to store them in the refrigerator after this, you may pat-dry with clean napkin. I recommend this for everyone because it is the least you can do to keep yourself and loved ones safe. In a recent research, washing produce with running water reduces the amount of pesticide residue for 9 of 12 tested pesticides. For more information:

Apples being washed under a running tap. Image credit: Google images


It is better to peel off the outer layers of some vegetables, such as cabbage, lettuce and onions. Of course, before peeling, you need to give them first round of washing under a running tap. Other vegetables and fruits with crevices (potatoes, carrots, apples, guavas, etc.) sometimes hide pesticides, making it difficult to get rid of the entire residues. You may peel off the skin at the crevice if you think washing alone cannot get rid of the residues. However, it is important to note here that the peel of some fruits are power-houses of nutrients.

peeled potato
Peeled potato. Image credit: Kitchen Byte

Scrub with a vegetable brush

Some vegetables are usually harvested very dirty and that is because they grow in the soil. If you have ever bought potatoes, or carrots straight from the farm or farmers’ market, then you must know what I mean. This is what prompts some produce retailers to wash them in detergent to make them clean and increase the general appeal. But there is absolutely no need to use detergents! Just give them a good scrub with a vegetable brush. This way, you will be getting rid of both the debris and pesticide residues. Please note that this is different from the regular scrubbing brush. Typically, a vegetable brush is a hand brush for scrubbing vegetables. It has softer bristles on one side and harder ones on the other.

vegetable brush
Vegetable brush with soft and hard bristles.
Image credit: Quickcrop

Use vinegar and water

You may also choose to soak your fruits or vegetables in a solution of 10% white vinegar and 90% water. Let it stand for about minutes. Use a wooden spatula to stir them around. Then remove them from the vinegar solution and rinse thoroughly before consumption. This method has been proven to be very effective for removing most of the pesticides. It does a little more than plain water would. I have read that for 100% performance, you will need undiluted white vinegar. But that will leave your fruit with a vinegary taste, which you most probably do not want!

A bottle of white vinegar. Image credit: Food and Wine Magazine

Use baking soda

In my opinion, this is the queen of produce cleansing! 1-part baking soda to 100 parts water is recommended to for washing off pesticides from fruits and vegetables. After mixing the baking soda thoroughly in the water, soak your produce for 12 to 15 minutes in the solution. Rinse with clean water and enjoy!

baking soda
A sachet of baking soda. Image credit: Urban Platter

Wash them in salt-water solution

Another sure way to remove pesticides from your fruits and vegetables is to wash them in a salt-water solution. Washing your fruits with saltwater is easy and cost effective. 10% salt-water solution has been found to get rid of most pesticides on fruits and vegetables. A 10% salt solution has been found to be just as effective as full-strength vinegar (and nobody wants the vinegar-taint on their fruit!). Remember to rinse off the salt from the produce when you bring it out. Also put the salt into consideration while preparing a meal with your vegetables!

Table salt. Image credit: Connect Nigeria

There, you have it! The list is by no means exhaustive. There are still many more ways of getting rid of pesticides on your fruits and vegetables. What is your favourite way of washing fruits and veggies?. What are the other methods you know? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below. I will love to hear from you.

Kunbi Omotoso

Promoting safe food choices in Nigeria


  1. Samson - 10 November 2019 Reply

    This is very useful information. I believe that rinsing works well so I take my time to rinse properly before eating any fruit.

    • Kunbi Omotoso - 10 November 2019 Reply

      Thank you so much, for your response. I like the fact that you mentioned proper rinsing. I always tell people that it is the minimum we can do. Fruits and veggies need to be properly washed because we are washing to remove dirt and pesticides.

  2. Emmanuella - 9 January 2020 Reply

    Very useful information. I’ve used salt for washing my veggies. I’ve heard of venigar and now baking soda….this is good

    • Kunbi Omotoso - 28 January 2020 Reply

      I am glad to know you found it relevant. Let us keep eating safe.

  3. Taiwo - 18 April 2020 Reply

    What a good read!
    Weldone ma.

    • Kunbi Omotoso - 18 April 2020 Reply

      Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you found it informative.

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