How ya like them apples? Here’s the best way to wash the pesticides off produce

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Fall is in full swing and that means apple picking season! There are so many varieties of tasty treats to indulge in from nature’s bounty: Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji, Gala and more.

But with the Environmental Working Group routinely listing apples as part of its Dirty Dozen — an annual tally of 12 fruits and vegetables that retain the highest level of pesticides when you eat them — some people only buy organic apples to avoid heavy pesticides.

And we all know organic produce is way pricier than traditional non-organic produce.

So with that in mind, here’s a little trick that can help you wash your apples thoroughly enough that you may actually be able to skip organic — and the high-cost premium that goes along with it!

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Here’s the best way to wash your apples

Price is obviously a big dividing line in the sand when you’re deciding whether to buy organic or traditional apples.

It’s not uncommon to pay a premium of up to 60% on organic, according to recent numbers from Consumer Reports.

Price of organic apples versus traditional

But new research shows that you can remove most if not all pesticide residue on your apples in about 15 minutes by washing them with a common household substance.

That substance is baking soda, which is also known as sodium bicarbonate or by its chemical name NaHCO3.


Researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, tested three common methods of washing apples to see which removed the most pesticides.

Those methods included washing in tap water; a mix of Clorox bleach and water; and a mix of baking soda and water.

apple washing experiment

(Editor’s note: While using a Clorox solution to wash fruits and veggies probably isn’t common in your home, Consumer Reports notes that it is standard agricultural practice to use this method to remove dirt and kill microbes before bringing produce to market.)

The most effective method of pesticide removal? The baking soda and water wash!

“Using a 10 mg/mL NaHCO3 washing solution, it took 12 and 15 min to completely remove thiabendazole or phosmet surface residues, respectively, following a 24 hour exposure to these pesticides,” the researchers wrote.

While the scientists did not extrapolate their findings to other produce, it stands to reason a baking soda and water wash for 15 minutes would likely be a best practice for thoroughly cleaning any fruit or vegetable with a skin that you intend to eat.

So if staying on a grocery budget is a concern for you, consider the baking soda wash as a way to save money and still eat healthy while getting minimal pesticide intake.

You may never have to buy organic again!

RELATED: New guidelines: Children should be drinking a lot less fruit juice

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