How To Clean Vegetables From Pesticides And Bacterial Residue

Consuming vegetables and fruits without conscious effort to remove the pesticide and bacterial residue could be highly detrimental to the health and wellbeing of the consumers because most the chemical compounds in the pesticide residues have the potential to impair the health and wellbeing of the consumer. Fruits and vegetables are usually grown with pesticides to help preserve the quality and quantity for good market price.

Fruits  are the sweet, fleshy, edible part of a plant that contains seeds. Fruits are usually consumed raw while vegetables are succulent plant parts that are fit for consumption after minimal processing. Typical examples of fruits are  apple, pear, sweet orange, grapefruit , cucumber, banana etc.; while good examples of vegetable are cabbage, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, pumpkin, celery, onion etc.

Fruits and vegetables are good sources of miconutrients and phytogenic compounds that improve for human health. Vegetables in particular contain good dietary fiber, low, fat, salt, and, sugar content sufficient to build a defensive immune system. Notable vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables are vitamins A, vitamin C and E, Zinc, phosphorus, magnesium and folic acids.



Pesticides are chemical substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest in a garden. They are used in wide range of areas in gardening to increase yield and produce vegetables in good quantity and quality. Without the use of pesticides in gardening, crop losses due to pests attack and diseases conditions are  about 30 to 50% depending on the type of crop grown. There is a need to balance increase in food production, in right quantity and quality, and to ensure safety of food for consumers and the environment for better sustainability.

Pesticides Used For Fruits And Vegetable Production

There are different types of pesticides used for fruits and vegetables production. Each is targeted at controlling a particular type of pest.

  • Insecticides: For the control and elimination of insect pests in the garden.
  • Fungicides: For the control of fungi and fungal diseases
  • Bactericides:  For the control of pathogenic bacteria
  • Nematicides: For the control of parasitic nematodes
  • Acaricides: For the control of mites and spiders
  • Rodenticides;- control of mice and rats
  • Herbicides:- control of weeds.
  • Mollusicides:- control of mollusks.

These pesticides are targeted at various forms of pests as seen from their names; some are applied before planting while most are applied after planting. They all serve the same purpose to eliminate targeted pest.

How To Get Rid Of Pesticide Residue On Fruits And Vegetables

It is an established fact that pesticide residue cannot be completely removed from fruits and vegetables, however, the concentration of these can be reduced to a level that can  be absorbed by the metabolic pathway of humans. There are several kind of pesticides which include the following; acetamiprid , azoxystrobin, diflubenzuron, dimethoate, fipronil, imidacloprid, procymidone and thiamethoxam etc .

There are several methods of removing pesticide and bacterial residues on from fruits and vegetables; you would learn how to get rid of pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables  using any of these methods

  • Using 10% of sodium bicarbonate solution.
  • Using 10% of vinegar solution.
  • Using Water
  • Using the combination of sodium bicarbonate and vinegar solution.
  • Peeling

Method 1: 10% Sodium Bicarbonate Solution

You can get rid of surface bacterial and pesticides residues effectively by using sodium bicarbonate(baking soda,NaHCO) solution.

Here is how:

Mix some baking soda with water to make sodium bicarbonate ,then soak the fruit or vegetable for 20 minutes ,then remove and rinse with  fresh water to remove pesticide residues from the surfaces of the fruit or vegetables. According to this study  , the best treatment discovered to remove dimethoate residue was washing vegetable (tomato) with 10% of sodium bicarbonate solution; this reduced 62% of the residue in the tomato sample.  

Method 2: Using 10% Of Vinegar Solution

Vinegar solution is also widely used in removing bacterial and pesticides residue in fruits and vegetables.

This can be achieved by filling a large bowl with water and mix with vinegar, soak the fruits or vegetables in the mixture for 20 minutes and rinse the fruit or vegetable with water.

This study indicated that using natural vinegar wash would not effectively remove pesticide residues for porous fruits such as berries. The most suitable washing treatment that reduces the amount of residues of acetamiprid and procymidone was with 10% vinegar, reducing 93% and 43%, respectively.  

Method 3: Using water and detergent to remove bacterial and pesticide residues

Water is a universal solvent; water can also b e used to effecrively get rid of foreign matters on vegetables and fruits such as pesticide residues. In a study with strawberries pesticides were applied in the field to control insect pests. After harvesting, it was discovered that azoxystrobin and fenhexamid residues were removed by washing with tap water, however, pyrimethanil residues were not removed. Consequent washing of the strawberry fruits with commercial detergent solution (water and detergent) was the game changer as larger amounts of residues were removed (about 45% of azoxystrobin and pyrimethanil and 60% of fenhexamid).

Method 4: Combination of water , sodium bicarbonate and vinegar

The combination of water , sodium bicarbonate and vinegar can be used to remove pesticide residues. This study disclosed the efficacy of using water , sodium bicarbonate and vinegar to remove the residues from imidacloprid and thiamethoxam pesticides at various concentration levels. Washing the fruits with bicarbonate and 10% vinegar solution were more efficient, and did not differ significantly. Washing fruits and vegetables with water only showed the lowest residue concentration for diflubenzuron; and washing with water and vinegar, did not differ significantly for azoxystrobin.  

Method 5: Peeling

Peeling the exocarp of fruits is another way of removing pesticides residue. Some pesticides has the potential to penetrate into the mesocarp, though the exocarp often acts as a barrier for maximum penetration. Fruits like citrus and banana can be peeled to reduce pesticide residues. It was discovered that, peeling of fruits is the best when done under running water. However, in some fruits, removing of peels may result in the removal of one of the most nutrient-rich parts of the plants.  

Effects And Reasons For Removing Pesticides Residues

 It is very important to remove pesticide and bacterial residue from vegetables before consumption because these residues are toxic and can be harmful to human even more than the pest at which they are targeted. Pesticides can cause harmful effects after ingestion, inhalation or contact with the skin. Some symptoms like nausea, vomiting , diarrhoea , respiratory tract irritation and allergic sensitation  are associated to pesticide residue reactions.  The presence of concentrations of some pesticide residue in the fruits and vegetable can hinder some effects in the hormones (chemical messenger of the body) and hormone balance of the body. Some of these effects includes.

  • Decrease in fertility and genital malformations.
  • Reduced in semen quality.
  • Breast cancer.
  • Presence of cyst in the ovaries.
  • Diabetes and obesity.
  • Mental health problems.

In conclusion, Understanding the physiology or anatomy the fruit would help greatly to determine the method to use to get rid of bacterial and pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables. Washing with either water and or the aforementioned solutions, or peeling before consumption of fruits and vegetables is highly recommended to eliminate pesticide residues. Any of these bacterial and pesticide residues removal methods contributes substantially to reduced consumer exposure to pesticides to maintain good health.

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