Make This Easy DIY Vegetable Spray
Eliminate bacteria, pests and pesticides from your summertime harvest with these simple, inexpensive formulas.
Whether you grow your own, buy into a CSA, or pick up your vegetables at the grocery store or farm stand; dirt, bugs, and chemicals are often a part of our summertime harvest. It’s important to carve out time to clean your greens before consumption. With a DIY vegetable wash, it’s easier than ever to battle bacteria, pesticide residue, and residual bugs and dirt to make your fresh foods table-ready in no time at all.
Lemon and white vinegar are commonalities in most vegetable washes that we’ve tried; no surprise, really – both are natural disinfectants that we use in the home to make cleansers. Salt is often added to the food-safe mixture too, as a study in the Journal of Food Protection found that the vinegar’s ability to kill E. Coli bacteria was enhanced with the presence of sodium chloride (or glucose).
For all vegetables, I use a three-step cleaning approach that begins and ends with a plain water rinse.
Here’s what I use to make my favorite DIY vegetable spray that’s good for cleaning fruits and vegetables:
- 2 cups of water
- 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar
- fresh-squeezed juice of 1/2 of a lemon
- (optional: Boil the water with 2 tablespoons of salt until it dissolves, and then chill and store for future use - salt water!)
Mix all ingredients together in a spray bottle. Do an initial plain water rinse of the foods you’re cleaning, and then in a large bowl or colander, spray the surfaces of the vegetables and allow them to rest in contact with the spray for two minutes. Re-rinse the foods, and then dry and store for future use, or immediately consume.
For straight-up greens, like lettuce, spinach, and collard varieties, I modify my three-step washing and rinsing approach:
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 3 cups of cold water
- 1 tablespoon of salt
Pre-rinse the greens under the faucet to loosen and remove soil that embedded into the folds of the stem.
Mix a ratio of distilled white vinegar, cold water, and salt in a large mixing bowl (if you’re tackling a big harvest, double the ingredients). Plunge the greens into the mixture, and allow them to sit for two minutes. When you lift the leaves out of the bowl of water, be sure not to mix the water up, because there’s probably a bit of soil and sediment resting on the bottom of the bowl.
Once they’ve soaked, re-rinse the greens once more with cold water and dry to store.
Unclog Slow Drains
Before you go the chemical route to clear a slow-moving drain, try baking soda and vinegar. Pour a cup of baking soda into the drain, then heat up a cup of vinegar and pour it on top of the baking soda. After approximately 10 minutes, flush with a pot of boiling water. (Don't use this solution on a clogged drain.)
All-Natural Oven Scrub
A dirty oven can pose a serious cleaning challenge. Avoid corrosive chemicals and toxic odors by whipping up a baking soda and salt paste made with water or vinegar. Spread the paste over the floor, walls and oven door using a brush. (Be sure to wear gloves when you do this!) Let the mixture sit for about 24 hours, keeping it moist with a spritz of water or vinegar periodically. The paste will help soften the burnt-on food and make scrubbing your oven a bit easier. Wipe the paste away with a sponge or cloth, then turn on the oven to around 100 degrees F. Keep it on for an hour to soften any lingering residue. Turn the oven off, then once it's cool to the touch, spritz any stubborn areas with vinegar and wipe down.
Scour a Ceramic Stovetop
Baked-on food residue tends to build up on cooktops no matter how hard you try to keep them clean. Luckily, a paste of warm water and baking soda spooned onto the surface will help loosen the residue. Let it sit for several minutes, then scrub to remove the gunk. Finish by spritzing with glass cleaner, then wipe dry.
Refresh the Refrigerator
It’s easy for crumbs and spills to gunk up your fridge in no time. Remove those mishaps with a paste of baking soda and dish soap. Use a scrub sponge to get up stubborn spots, then wipe away the mixture with warm water. Be sure to microwave your sponge for two minutes after use to keep it from harboring germs.
Quick Scour a Slow Cooker
Getting caked-on food out of your slow cooker doesn’t have to be a headache. Just fill the pot with water, then add 1/4 cup of baking soda and cook on high for three to four hours. The heated mixture will soften up any crusty residue. After a few hours, pour the water out, then lightly dust the inside of the pot with baking soda and scrub well. With a clean, damp cloth, rinse and wipe the pot out. You’re now ready for your next recipe!
Pretty-Up Tarnished Silver
Line a pan with aluminum foil and place silver pieces on top of the foil. Next, bring a pot of water to a boil, then turn off the heat. Add baking soda into the hot water and stir. Once the chemical reaction kicks in, the water will become foamy. Next, pour the baking soda mixture over the tarnished pieces, and let them soak for about 10 minutes. This reaction causes the tarnish to change back to silver, while the sulfur attaches itself to the foil. Give the chemical reaction time to do its thing! When the pieces are ready, remove them with tongs, then rinse and dry each piece with a clean towel. Lightly buff each piece to a gorgeous sparkle.
Deodorize a Front-Load Washer
Front-load washers look great, they're more efficient and they use less detergent than a traditional top-loading model, but they’re also prone to smelling funky over time. Pour a half cup of baking soda into the detergent cup, then run a wash cycle with hot water to cut soap scum and deodorize the machine. A clean machine ensures your laundry smells its best, so deep-clean it monthly.
Remove Carpet Stains
If you've got an unsightly spot on your area rug or carpet, sprinkle it with baking soda to wick out any excess moisture. Let it sit for a few minutes, then vacuum it up. Next, blot the stain with 1 cup of warm water mixed with 1 tablespoon of vinegar, working from the outside edges inward. Blot until the stain has transferred from the carpet to the cleaning cloth, then allow to air dry.