Chlorine Bleach For Sanitizing Raw Fruits And Vegetables


In addition to sanitizing food contact surfaces, chlorine bleach solutions may be used for sanitizing raw fruits and vegetables during the washing or peeling process.

We occasionally hear of salmonella contamination of raw fruits and vegetables causing gastrointestinal illnesses. It’s not that hard to imagine how it could happen…

When buying fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, it is often unknown where the produce has specifically come from, under what sanitary (or lack thereof) conditions, who picked it, processed it, how was it handled, was it kept clean during distribution, how many people have picked up the produce and put it back down on the grocery store shelf, were their hands dirty…

Here’s one way to assure that your raw fruits and vegetables are sanitized:

Federal regulations permit the use of sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) in washing produce (21 CFR Part 173).

The conditions:

The concentration of sanitizer in the wash water must not exceed 2000 ppm hypochlorite.

The produce must be rinsed with potable water following the chlorine treatment.

Having said that, most sanitizing operations, unless the produce is very dirty, will not need a sanitizer concentration greater than 200 ppm total chlorine to achieve the desired sanitizing effect – provided contact times of one minute or greater (typically sufficient to achieve a thorough kill).


How To Make A Chlorine Bleach & Water Solution To Sanitize Raw Fruits And Vegetables

2 teaspoons Regular Bleach (8.25% sodium hypochlorite)
1 Gallon of clean water

This will result in a 200 ppm (parts per million) chlorine solution.

Let fruit or vegetables stand in solution for at least one minute.
Then rinse with tap water or potable water.

Note: Use Regular bleach (no additives) with sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient. Today’s Regular Clorox bleach is ‘concentrated’ at 8.25% sodium hypochlorite. If you are using Regular bleach of 5 – 6.25% sodium hypochlorite (read the label), then use 1 Tablespoon per gallon to achieve a 200 ppm sanitizing solution.

Note: For sanitizing non-food surfaces, make your own chlorine bleach & water solution.

Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service
– Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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  1. This is another area we have experimented with the use of Borax. Any vegetable which has a ‘non-permeable’ exterior is suitable for treatment with. Again, the action involved always leaves trace quantities of same behind and that is what serves to interdict any fungal growth after treatment….you’ll have to experiment with the quantities involved but in my experience it takes less then a teaspoon full per gallon of wash. I would NOT recommened this for any cut vegetables or thoae with a permeable skin as consupmtion of that will likely cause an enormous GI distress.

    Remmber, the bleach WILL evaporate quite quickly, and thus have no further inhibitory effect; the Borax remains till washed off. Lastly, the use of BOTH is accpetable as well…they are not mutually antagonistic (chemically) when mixed.

  2. good info, thanks.

    also, we have used, and I have read it recommended several times, to use vinegar.

    roughly cup of vinegar in gallon of water. soak any fruit / veg for a few minutes (assuming the main dirt is previously removed).

    works very well,
    EXCEPT if you want to wash your stuff and leave till next day….stuff will often get a funny puckering on the skins. no idea why. Great if you eat within few hours.

    anyone know, does vinegar do as good job as bleach?

    1. Actually yes,

      Vinegar is rather acidic, thus it’s sterilizing effect is undertood as most ‘critters’ don’t tolerate such well. That said, do NOT ever mix vinegar with bleach…ever. The tandem of any hypochlorite with an ACID is very bad; essentially you might well ‘evolve’ a form of nerve gas…’Sarin’ IS prodced whenver a strong acid is mixed with bleach, I think the reaction proceeds to COCL2 …I’m not perfectly sure about the vinegar, better ‘safe than sorry’ there.

      I should mention this: if you elect to leave any residue of Borax on a fruit or vegetable then yo must needs wash it prior to use…consumption is NOT recommended. Likely the ‘prune’ effect you mention is a reslt of the acidic action of the vinegar against tissue for which it is not a native comnponent.

    2. Using vinegar (or lemon juice) is great for bacteria but not for viruses. If you are concerned about coronavirus use the bleach solution as the vinegar won’t get the job done.
      It should be noted that idea if a little is good a lot is better is not the case. Do not exceed the recommended concentration. In a restaurant you’ll get written up by a health inspector just as fast for you sanitizers (food or surface) being too strong as not strong enough.
      Test strips can be purchased at amazon or any restaurant supply store. I recommend the roll variety as opposed to strips.

      1. Hi James. Thx for the info. What strips are u speaking about and where to purchase? How much bleach/h20? Must I rinse them? Thx. Bless you. Mary

        1. I washed fruits and vegetables with 5 teaspoons in 1 gallon of water without knowledge. Can I go ahead and feed babies?

  3. Although bleach can work well, I find vinegar less irritating than bleach for rinsing. I guess it depends on how much purifying you want to do.

  4. Funny you say that, back in 1986 I was stationed at Fort Ord, a US Army base in central California. One day myself and friends went Mountain biking up by Castroville, CA. Castroville is the artichoke capitol of the US. As we biked through an area of artichoke fields trying to make it to the beach we saw a field hand taking a leak on one of the artichoke plants. To this day I will not touch an artichoke.

    1. Actually, if one takes the time to become better informed, one will find that urine does not contaminate vegetation, even that grown for food, and is sometimes advocated as a sustainable practice in agricultural areas where there is a scarcity of water. Based on your comment, however, it is possible that your intent was to condemn immigrants, and there is also a high possibiity that you are a descendent of an immigrant as well. That would characterize your statement as hypocrisy.

      1. Urine DOES contain bacteria, hepatitis A can be transmitted this way, especially if the bowels have been emptied nearby. Now, why would you jump to any conclusion about who was doing the peeing? It was a field hand; could have been the farmer’s son.
        Think. Don’t condemn.

        1. Alabama jojo et all—–don’t know who is peeing where, and not so sure it is of consequence, consider what is used to fertilize farm/veggie fields….—Have read many articles that commercial animal farm operations (pig/cow) produce huge amounts of waste. It is stored in massive tanks, liquefied and used to spray on veggie crops as “liquid fertilizer”. Seems like there must also be huge amounts of disease spread such.

        2. Anon;
          Not into this conversation, but I can testify for a ‘fact’ on the “Brown Watering” of veg’s, have witnessed myself on my last trip through Washington State, was out and about looking for a small farm.
          As one Farmer put it, Brown makes it Green….. and I added, “and stinky, smells like crapo around here”, he just laughed and said “no, that’s the smell of money”.

        3. I don’t know about urine, but manure has been used for thousands of years for fertilizer. I would rather use manure on my garden than all the chemicals that commercial farmers use

          1. Ugh. Why love it? Hopefully, that’s just your sarcasm showing. :P
            I thought SarahKnows’ hyper-pc, smug response was totally unnecessary fertilizer…if you get my drift.

      2. NRP ——-sure, smell of money for HIM…For the humanity eating it, it is a “real crapshoot” as to what diseases one is exposed to…

        I have seen many articles (with photos) about this, and it is a wonder humanity survives such stupidity.

        1. Anon;
          You’ll get no argument fro me on the “Crap-Shoot”.

          “it is a wonder humanity survives such stupidity”

          Honestly, not to sure Humanity is “Surviving” or just living on borrowed time.

      3. NRP ====Yuppers…

        on a recent note re this/alert…You’all see the CDC alerts not to eat ANY (packaged/chopped/whole/etc) Romaine Lettuce, as it is strongly suspected to be source of e coli, many deaths/many hospitalizations/etc…”They don’t know HOW it all got contaminated”….REALLY? DUH?

  5. I have read, many times, that Household Vinegar
    will thoroughly remove bacteria/viruses/ pesticides from any food products soaked in vinegar water, for a few minutes.

    tastes better than bleach, too.

    1. Experts found that a white vinegar and water wash kills 98% of bacteria and removes pesticides.

      You can concoct your own vinegar/water mixture at home to save money

      Good Green Habits for Washing Produce
      •Mix 3 parts water to 1 part white vinegar (3:1 ) in a spray bottle.
      •Spray on fruits and veggies to get rid of pesticide residue.
      •Rinse with water after spraying.

      •Fill a bowl with water and add 1/8 to 1/2 cup of vinegar, depending on the size of your bowl.
      •Place your fruits and veggies in the bowl.
      •Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
      •Rinse with water.

      (((on a personal note, I suggest only doing enough for each eating/meal. I have found that if I do up a bunch, say carrots, by the next morning the skin of the carrots looks “gibbled” (sorry), all wrinkly and nasty looking. Totally fine at first. No idea why this happens)))

      1. wrong vinegar does not kill viruses!! use bleach!

        stop giving bad advice. using soap can eliminate coro-viruses because they have lipid shell damaged by soap

    2. @Anon, wrong!!!! vinegar does not kill viruses!! use bleach!
      stop giving bad advice. using soap can eliminate coro-viruses because they have lipid shell damaged by soap

      1. @cc, take a breath. Their reply was written in 2014, before the virus. It was probably good back then, but now we need to be a little more strict. Check post dates before jumping people’s butts

        1. Lol Doesn’t matter 2014, since the facts remain constant. He is right to correct the wrong info. I’m here to look up and had he not commented, I’d have thought vinegar is just fine. Although best to do own research.

  6. I would like to know if you can let the produce sit in chlorine water for more then a min and if not why?

  7. If you soak the produce in either a vinegar or bleach solution, can the solution be reused?

  8. Our AGriculture spokesman said a 10% clorox solution(1 part clorox to 10 parts water) was the proper mix to bathe tomatoes. This is more clorox than mentioned above. Even if washed in water after the bath, are the tomatoes
    treated with 10% clorox solution safe to eat?

  9. Conifer is an excellent natural product but will not cover killing as many germs pathogens as Clorox will


  11. I’m looking to use Sodium Hypochlorite to wash the leaves before drying them out.

    is this the same as the bleach I was my house down with ????

    1. You will not be able to purchase 100% Sodium Hypochlorire. Your household bleach is an approximately 8% solution of Sodium Hypochlorite in water. Even so you have to dilute it if you are to use it to sterilize fruit and vegetables. A tablespoon in 1 gallon of water is plenty, wash for 1 or 2 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with potable water.

  12. What is the lower threshold concentration? I live in an area where everything is potentially infected (the tropics, northern Peru).

  13. Any specific recommendations for” Bean-Brocholi-alfafa sprouts?
    I guess dip- rinse and rinse again..?.

  14. thanks so much for posting. could you share the links to the sites that you used for references?

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