Should you wash your fruit and vegetables before putting them in the fridge?

Food storage ideas are reaching a whole new level of organization - but is it entirely necessary?

person washing peppers and other vegetables in the tap of their stainless steel sink
(Image credit: Getty)

Whether it's a reaction to the pandemic, or due to us having more time on our hands thanks to working remotely, social media has exploded with fridge organization videos. It's shockingly easy to fall down a rabbit hole of clips showing freshly washed fruit and vegetables being stored away neatly in glass jars. 

But is this burgeoning food storage trend a #lifehack we should all be adopting at home? We spoke to experts to find out whether you should wash fruit and veg before storing them in your best fridge freezer, and for tips on making fresh produce last longer.

Should you wash fruits and vegetables before storing?

a beautifully colorful fridge with fruit and vegetables organized by color

(Image credit: Getty)

Sometimes it can feel like our fresh produce is out of date before we even have a chance to eat it – fresh berries for your morning smoothie have a particularly limited lifespan, making it feel like a ticking time bomb as you race to use up all the fresh fruit and veg from your weekly shop before mold starts to appear. It seems like washing vegetables in cold water with some vinegar can go a long way in keeping some fruit and vegetables fresh. 

That said, experts are divided on the new kitchen storage idea - Health and Wellness advisor at Coffeeable Nadia Charif is firmly against it. ‘As a professional health fanatic, I’m meticulous with my food storage, and Instagram is ruining my mood!’ Nadia tells us.

She says she's alarmed by the aesthetic videos of giving produce 'baths' by washing it before putting it away. The wellness enthusiast argues that it creates an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive in, which certainly won't extend food's shelf-life.

box of fruit and veg sat on wooden decking

(Image credit: Getty)

‘Admittedly, using vinegar helps to kill this bacteria, especially in berries,' she continues, 'but you’re best to simply wash your produce shortly before consumption, rather than risk bacteria growth while they’re being stored!'

Kysha Harris, chef and food editor for The Spruce Eats sees things differently. 'The first thing to note is that all fruits and vegetables are different, so there's not one singular strategy that will prolong the life of every item,' she says.

Harris recommends paying attention to which items you store together, as this also impacts the life of certain fruits and vegetables. For example, storing potatoes next to onions will cause the potatoes to sprout faster.

person washing vegetables and salad leaves in ceramic sink

(Image credit: Getty)

She also told us that storing different fruit and veg close together can accelerate the ripening process, meaning they spoil quicker - so that's one reason to try storing items in separate containers.

'As far as washing and using glass jars, the only things that have a prolonged shelf life using similar methods are things with long stalks like asparagus and green onions, and lettuce,' she says.

So there's nothing wrong with enjoying colorful rows or organized jars in your fridge. But the time-consuming process of pre-washing and storing doesn't seem worth it if you ask us – and can sometimes even be harmful to the shelf-life of the produce.

Millie joined Real Homes in early 2021 as a homes news writer. When she isn't writing about trends, makeovers and houseplant care, she spends her free time making tweaks to her rented flat in North London. Her next project is a very basic armchair reupholstering job to help create a cosy reading nook in her living room. She loves browsing antique centres, tending to her small front garden, and is never without some fresh flowers at home.