red apples

Before biting into a juicy apple, you may want to wash any pesticides off its skin. You can buy special fruit and vegetable washes in the grocery store, but new research shows a simple solution you can make at home performs well.

Removing Pesticides in Your Own Kitchen:

Scientists at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst tested a way to remove pesticides from apples (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, online October 25, 2017). They coated Gala apples with the fungicide thiabendazole or the broad-spectrum pesticide phosmet. Tests showed how much pesticide the apple skins contained before they were washed.

Then the investigators washed them in plain water, water with bleach or water with baking soda. None of the washing techniques completely removed thiabendazole that had soaked through the skin into the apple’s flesh. Nonetheless, a 12-minute soak in water and baking soda did a good job getting thiabendazole off the skin, while a 15-minute soak in the same solution got rid of phosmet.

Can You Do This at Home?

The solution used in the laboratory was one teaspoon baking soda in two cups of water. That should be accessible in nearly any home kitchen. The true test will be patience: remember to allow the apples to soak in the baking soda solution for 15 minutes to get the pesticides off the skin. We’d suggest rinsing in plain water to remove any hint of baking soda as well.

Presumably, the amount of pesticides residue on a single apple is small. It might not be enough to cause any problems for an adult eating the apple. But it makes sense to minimize exposure as much as possible, especially when the solution is so simple.

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. JB

    I wash my apples with liquid soap kept at the sink, then rinse with clear water and dry with a paper towel. Also do the same with avocados before peeling them.

  2. Ann L.
    Portland, OR

    I had a couple apple trees planted years ago. I never sprayed them with anything.
    Thought I would have good and safe apples to eat, but all I got in every apple was worms. I cut all the bad stuff off the apple and ended up with a tiny piece to eat.:)
    So, I buy organic apples.
    Ann L.

  3. Madeleine
    Sarasota, FL

    Thank you all for the suggestions. I have often thought before eating the God via nature provided red orb on how much pesticide etc. I would be ingesting by eating peel and all. To clean it up, I sometimes use the store bought fruit cleaner from the grocery store and sometime I wash the exterior with hand foam wash I keep next to my faucet.

  4. Jeanette

    The researchers applied a fungicide, not pesticides to the apple skin. Even after the 15 min soak, the fungicide had penetrated the skin. What about pesticides? And what about systemic pesticides that grow with the apple?. Sorry! Apples are #4 on EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. I only eat organic apples.

  5. Becky

    It’s my understanding that the pesticides are trapped between the peel and the wax coating that is put on most apples. Is this true and if so does the baking soda trick still work. I personally buy organic and wash them with n a solution of white vinegar water.

  6. Al

    I heard that washing with dish soap does the trick also.

  7. Anne
    Bakersfield, Ca.

    According to recent news, buying “organic” is a giant waste of money, as is probiotics.

    • Horselover

      For what it’s worth, I suffered with excessive embarrassing flatulence for years. Probiotics have changed my life! Would never give them up.

  8. Anne
    Bakersfield, Ca.

    I don’t wash any apples that I purchase. I take a paper towel and apply quite a bit of pressure to the apple and polish it thoroughly so that any exterior residue is polished off.

  9. Bob
    South Carolina

    How much of the chemicals were present prior to washing and how does this compare to the limits set by the FDA. Remember there is harmful chemical in our natural environment all the time and not just those introduced by man.

    Also with the baking soda/water method, what does this do to the chemical? Does it neutralize the chemical or extract it out of the skin? If the chemical gets absorbed into the skin why wouldn’t it also go into the meat of the apple?

  10. MommaN

    Would there be any bad consequence to treating 6 or 7 apples all at the same time? Would there be any change to the apples eaten a few days later? Or does this have to be done just before eating the apple?

  11. Linda

    Apple cider vinegar spray on fruit, wait 30 seconds. Works wonders.

  12. Paul
    Columbia River Gorge

    I doubt people would take that much time. Glad we buy organic apples from the grower.

  13. Micky
    Dallas, Tx

    Question: Does the pesticide not effect the fruit itself? Does it not penetrate the skin, or what if the pesticide was sprayed while the fruit was forming? Thank you for the suggestion.

  14. Parke

    Simpler to just buy organically grown apples in the first place!

  15. Linda

    Rather than use the baking soda solution and waiting 15 mins. I would rather just peel the apple.

  16. Fran

    I spray all my fruits with a white vinegar solution allow them to sit for about 10-15 minutes then rinse.

  17. Verna

    This is such good advice. Thank you. This could apply to other fruits and vegetables also.

    • Bev

      What Part vinegar to water?

  18. Tony
    FL 32724

    We only buy organic apples: do your comments apply to organic apples as well?

  19. Cindy M. Black
    Seattle, WA

    Thank you for this article! I have repeatedly tried to find out whether it’s indeed possible to remove pesticides from apples… or whether the pesticides soak way into the apple and no amount of scrubbing can get them out. Til now, I’ve received no clear answer.

    You can also, of course, buy “fruit and veggie wash” at several stores; I get mine from Trader Joe’s, and I put it on full-strength, scrub like crazy with a stiff brush, and then let the apples stand for 20 min. or so before rinsing. That is, if I have to buy conventionally grown apples…. I usually buy organic because I gag at the thought of ingesting pesticides.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.