To optimize my time as much as possible, I would like to know if I can simply put them in water and leave them there for a while. This would help if there are lots of fruits and vegetables to be washed. Would this help to remove bacteria and pesticides on them? How long should they be soaked in minimum to really be effective? How long in maximum to avoid effects on taste and nutrition? How long before they get spoiled? Should I put something into the water?

  • What's wrong with a quick wash? I don't understand what your concerns are.
    – GdD
    Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 10:40
  • 5
    This could have the opposite effect, and spread a contaminant everywhere... Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 10:40
  • 1
    There are sources that recommend vinegar and water for up to 1 hour to help dissolve pesticides. dailymom.com/nest/…
    – paparazzo
    Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 12:01
  • soaking in a salt solution or baking soda solution seems to help remove pesticides, albeit only on the surface: pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jafc.7b03118
    – Jay
    Commented Jan 5, 2020 at 23:21
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    Does this answer your question? is it okay to wash vegetables by soaking/submerging?
    – user104366
    Commented May 28, 2023 at 21:38

2 Answers 2


Washing fruit and vegetables in water is less an exercise in sterilisation and more a case of simply washing off any mud or debris. Soaking in still water does nothing to clean, well, anything really. Even if you sterilise the water and container, the fruit itself will still be teeming with bacteria which would be perfectly happy to multiply in stagnant water.

Simply wash the fruit/veg under a briskly running stream of water to remove any major dirt. There is unlikely to be anything terrible on fruit or vegetables in any case, assuming you have a healthy immune system.

If you really want to reduce bacterial load, the only solution is thorough cooking.

  • Would the pesticide be washed under briskly running stream of water, or by rubbing them invisibly by hand? Is the practice of soaking them in salt water make any difference?
    – Ooker
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 1:55

Washing/soaking in a 3:1 water/vinegar mixture can eliminate 98% of bacteria. 1 However, there is not a distinct improvement over washing under running water.

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