How to clean strawberries with vinegar, baking soda, or salt

Learn how to clean strawberries to make sure they're safe to eat and pesticide free

A silver colander full of strawberries being rinsed
(Image credit: 4kodiak / Getty)

Want to know how to clean strawberries? Cleaning strawberries properly is important if you buy yours from a supermarket. Even homegrown strawberries should be washed before eating. 

Whether you want to use fresh strawberries to make a smoothie in your blender or you like eating them as they are, learning how to clean them will ensure that you get to enjoy these vitamin-packed berries safely. 

Why should I clean strawberries?

Strawberries may seem perfectly clean just picked, but it's very important to wash them. This is because conventionally grown strawberries are one of the most pesticide-laden fruit out there. One American study found traces of over 30 different pesticides on just one strawberry, which is very worrying, especially given the sponge-like nature of strawberries. 

Pesticides aside, strawberries are picked by hand, and unless you picked them yourself, you'll want to make sure you remove any bacteria lingering on them from other people's hands.

Strawberries being soaked before rinsing

(Image credit: VadimDem / Getty)

How to clean strawberries with vinegar

Vinegar, which you can buy in bulk from Amazon (opens in new tab) or any grocery store, is perfect for cleaning strawberries: it removes bacteria and pesticide residue. Just make sure not to cut your strawberries before cleaning them, or the vinegar could affect their flavor. 

Method:

1. Wash strawberries right before consumption or cooking.

2. Fill a large bowl or clean sink with four parts cold water to one part white vinegar.

3. Soak the strawberries in the solution for 20 minutes.

4. Rinse in clean cold water for a further couple of minutes.

5. Pat dry with a paper towel.

Red ripe strawberries in a stainless steel colander

(Image credit: TKphotography64 / Getty)

How to clean strawberries with salt

Washing strawberries with salt is great if your strawberries are the product of organic gardening. You don't need to worry about pesticides, but organically-grown strawberries can contain fruit larvae or tiny spiders, which some people dislike. 

Method:

1. Add a teaspoon of salt to a bowl filled with warm water.

2. Let the water cool down compeltely.

3. Submerge the strawberries in the saline solution for 5–10 minutes.

4. Discard the water and rinse. 

How to clean strawberries with baking soda

The best of all worlds, baking soda (opens in new tab) is very effective at cleaning your strawberries, removing chemical residue, dirt, and bacteria. The safety and cleaning power of baking soda has even been confirmed by the FDA. Baking soda will not affect the taste of your strawberries in any way, either.

Method:

1. Add a teaspoon of baking soda to four cups of cold water.

2. Soak the strawberries in the solution for 5–10 minutes.

3. Discard the water and rinse thoroughly.

How to wash strawberries: top tips

Whatever you choose to wash your strawberries with, there are a few rules to remember:

  • Only wash strawberries right before eating; storing washed strawberries will likely result in soggy fruit that's not pleasant to eat.
  • Don't cut or peel strawberries before washing.
  • Discard any strawberries that have gone soft and mushy; a good-to-eat strawberry should be firm and even in texture.

Does baking soda remove pesticides from strawberries?

Yes. A recent study by the University of Massachusetts showed that submerging fruit in a sodium bicarbonate bath and gently scrubbing them in the solution for about 10–15 minutes removed over 96 percent of common pesticide residue. 

Should I wash strawberries I've grown myself?

To be on the safe side, you should still wash your home grown veg, even if you've grown yours organically without pesticides. And if you use lawn weed killer anywhere near your strawberries, you absolutely should wash them. If you grow organically, you can just wash with water. 

Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design. 

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