How to Sanitize Fruits and Vegetables?

Date: 29-January,2021Last Updated: 26-September,2022
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Since your weekly grocery runs are now all about the masks, alcohol-based sanitizer bottles, and a pair of gloves, and the people around the globe are trying to adhere to the norms of physical distancing while shopping for their versions of essentials.

The common question that comes after your shopping trip is,

"What do I do with my groceries thereafter and how do I sanitize vegetables?"

Many viral videos show people sanitizing fruits and vegetables by putting them in the dishwasher, while some scrub them down with alcohol-based wipes while the others soak them in potassium permanganate.

Experts suggest that the right way to clean groceries was, whether we were bringing them in or delivery was. One must remember that Corona is a respiratory virus we are dealing with and inhaling it causes infection and not about ingesting it.

Therefore to maintain a level of cleanliness and hygiene by sanitizing fruits and vegetables can reduce the possibility of contracting aerosol or droplet-related infections, such as tuberculosis.

What to keep in mind while on your grocery runs?

Maintain at least a three to six-meter distance from people around. Wear a mask mandatorily as there are a lot of asymptomatic carriers who will be active and out and about and you will probably not know. If everyone wears a mask, the safety turns two-fold! While you are out and bout shopping for groceries, you will inevitably end up touching many surfaces.

Does a pair of gloves help?

It's not a completely foolproof method, even though it has its advantages. When you have a pair of gloves and a mask, therefore the tendency to bring your hand to the face reduces.

Ensure that you kept a hand sanitizer handy during grocery runs so that you can sanitize as soon as you get back before you touch any surfaces in the car.

Once you are back home

Once you are back home before you proceed to quickly sanitize vegetables, keep the grocery bag outside your home, disinfect it first, dust the groceries with a clean cloth, and discard the cloth. Followed by this, take it to the kitchen and take the groceries outside it and place it in a clean place. Ensure that you leave all your cleaning implements near the sink. When you are back, throw your mask and gloves into a dustbin without having to touch them with your bare fingers. Clean down the sink and work area surrounding it like you usually would, with the regular wash you would use for your utensils.

Wash the produce( fruits and vegetables) in water (cold) for at least 30 seconds. Harder vegetables such as carrots and potatoes can be cleaned with a scrub brush and water, and these are the first steps to sanitizing vegetables once you reach home.

Vegetables and fruits:

It must be noted that rinsing them with soap is not a good idea and not advisable to sanitize fruits and vegetables, as there is a lot of danger in ingesting the soap, which can later cause gastrointestinal distress leading to vomiting and severe diarrhoea when consumed.

Alcohol-based wipes have lab-made chemicals that are not to be ingested and could have unknown long-term effects if used too often.

Just use tap water on vegetables and fruits for 20 seconds just how you would wash hands and NEVER dump veggies in a dishwasher is inadvisable. This is the BEST and natural way to sanitize vegetables.

Lay out the vegetables out in the sun for an hour or two before you take them into the house.

Although there is no scientific proof that turmeric, rock salt vinegar or baking soda added to the water can actually get rid of a virus and therefore sanitize vegetables, and there is no harm doing so, since these are food items, so it is safe to ingest.

Creating 'dunk tanks' where all vegetables are washed together with potassium permanganate, which is an antiseptic and can be used for sanitizing produce like fruits and vegetable, but there is no scientific backing to this either.

How to make your own vegetable dunk tank at home?

  • Making a vegetable dunk tank at home is easily sanitize vegetables in an effective way, and here is what you need.

  • Mix one cup of vinegar + four cups of water and add in one tablespoon of lemon, and shake well to combine the elements. Transfer the contents into a spray bottle.

  • Keep all fruits and vegetables in the sink, spray and let it sit for two to five minutes.

  • Rinse with cold water and pat dry.

  • However, for leafy greens, you can place them in a bowl with one cup of vinegar and four parts of water.

  • Add 1 tablespoon of salt.

  • Let the vegetables soak in for 2 to 5 minutes. Then, rinse it off with cold water and pat dry. Hence, sanitizing fruits and vegetables has been made easy.

  • Any excess moisture can make them decay in the fridge.

Eggs: Being the simplest method to sanitize groceries, the best way to clean eggs is to thoroughly rinse them with water.

Packets and cardboard boxes: Since these are not going to be consumed directly by yourself, they are safe to be wiped down with alcohol-based wipes to clean groceries on the outside.

While it is not clear as to how big of role vegetables, fruits and the food packaging itself plays in transmitting the virus, New England Journal of Medicine published a recent study virus was found on plastic and stainless steel for up to almost 72 hours, and on cardboard for up to 24 hours. Therefore the last thing you need in getting them inside your home is that sanitizing groceries on the inside and outside is very important.

Often you don't give a thought or two on how a simple chocolate wrapper gifted to your child or a dress delivered to you online, could carry the virus.

Precautions are always better than care, and that is why you need to to clean your groceries before getting them to your home.

Tins and water cans: This step must be followed before removing the seal, it is to wash the can fully with running tap water and using your hand wash to clean out the nooks and crannies.

What to do about food deliveries?

Opting for contact-less deliveries is a very wise choice where the delivery person leaves the packet is left at one's doorstep, therefore, minimizing your contact with the delivery executive. After you take the item inside the house, make sure you immediately dispose of the extra packaging, including covers, the bowls, and cardboard boxes, in a bin with a garbage bag. This must later be taken outside and thrown into the main dump if accessible or left outside for the collection to take place.

Do not to use cash. Opt for easier and safer online transactions whenever possible, or else, give out exact change. So try & plan deliveries for a time just before your building's garbage collection.

Transfer cooked food into a clean container and heat the food before consumption which makes sure your food is automatically sanitized due to the heat.

Other Simple tips and reminders to sanitize groceries and keep you safe are:

  • Use sanitizing spray-on products and clean edible items well either in hot water with adding a pinch of turmeric into it for sanitizing vegetables which come with packaging.

  • The very first thing to do is to wash your hands before you start unpacking and then proceed to clean groceries. Wear a fresh and clean pair of gloves and start with disposing of packaging.

  • The ideal thing to do is to leave your groceries unattended for 72 hours to allow the virus to become inactive.

  • If this is not possible as sanitizing fruits and vegetables is required to be done as soon as possible, set up a cleaning station to avoid contamination other parts of your house.

  • Sanitizing vegetable for at least 20 seconds with water with your own vegetable wash and avoid using soap

  • Sanitizing fruits and vegetables can be done by rinsing them entirely before storing them.

Covid 19 outbreak came out of nowhere into our daily lives and has not been easy on us. Though sanitizing fruits and vegetables brought was always a 'must-do', we must now be more careful about cleaning the groceries too.

Anything brought home from the outside to home needs to be sanitized for the safety of all. Going out for groceries or other essential commodities is something you cannot avoid; however, you can reduce the risk following simple yet strict hygiene routines and sanitizing vegetables diligently.

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