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Survey: How do you wash your leafy vegetables?

As the title states, I am curious how you wash leafy vegetables before cooking.

I used to say that I wash my vegetables, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I actually rinse my vegetables. This is especially so for leafy vegetables. Occasionally, I peeled apart the leafy vegetables and washed one leaf at a time by rubbing the leaves against my thumb and fingers. More often that not, I soaked them in water, swirled them around, and drained. Sometime I repeat this process.

So what do you *usually* do?

A) Wash vegetable via contact by hand or by brush (direct contact)
B) Rinse vegetable by running water or soaking water (indirect contact)
C) Not wash (trust vegetables being clean)

Thank you.

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  1. Depends,

    Belgian endive and radicchio I don't wash at all.

    Iceberg lettuce, if it looks clean, I generally peel the outer few layers off and don't wash any further. If there is noticeable dirt I will rinse the outer leaves, as generally the core is dirt free.

    Green/red/leafy lettuce, pretty much the same, though I find it typically has dirt and needs to be rinsed more often then iceberg.

    Spinach/arugula/choys/etc I treat along the same lines. Might cut the leaf from the stem, rinse the leaves off and then the stems/stalks might require more hands on rubbing or whatever to get any dirt off.

    bagged, prepared lettuces I don't wash.

    If I wash, a salad spinner is ideal, but here in Japan I don't have one, so i put tbem in a strainer and put the matching bowl inverted on top and shake excess water out, or just leave them sit in the strainer while I made the rest of the meal. I have neither enough kitchen towels nor paper towels nor space in general to try other drying methods.

    I simply rinse leaves under water most of the time, just depends on the time of year and what I am washing off and where I am. In Australia there were a lot of bugs on the lettuce, so I did fill the sink and swirl there, and actually typically I have done so in most restaurants, but at home it rarely comes to that. Japan does not seem to have as many bugs so I am just worried about surface dirt and a rinse suffices.

    I guess I am mostly C, followed sometimes by B, and rarely A

    2 Replies
    1. re: TeRReT

      Thanks. I suppose there are also these vegetable washing machine, but I doubt most people use them. There are physical washers which are much like our washing machine. There are the ultrasonic washers which is more like sonicators in labs.


      and there are these interesting sticks, which I am sure you can find them in Japan:


      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I have not seen either of those, but I am not in the habit of looking for ultrasonic vegetable washers. I will keep my eyes open for them now though, mind you I don't imagine I would ever use one.

    2. Depends on the amount of vegetable used.....a small amount, then like yourself, just rinse and use my thumb.....but if washing a whole head...then I slice, or chop and soak in a bowl of cool water....if the vegetable is particularly gritty, then I repeat as often as necessary.

      I use the salad spinner ...only for salad greens...not if the leafy vegetables are going to bee cooked.

      1 Reply
      1. re: fourunder

        Fourunder, you just said everything I was going to say. A soak, or several soaks, until no grit in the bottom of the bowl. If salad items and too soggy, a spin in the salad spinner.

      2. As I was taught in school: A full sink of water, toss in vegies and agitate them with both hands, let it sit so the dirt can sink to the bottom, remove floating vegies.

        4 Replies
        1. re: mwhitmore

          Me too. I have a double sink but the side with disposal is much smaller. I fill that with water and put the lettuce/leafy green in there, agitating to clean. If the green is very dirty, like spinach, I may drain and refill once or twice. Then I put the leaves in my salad spinner to dry them.

          1. re: tcamp

            for me, spinach gets 3 dunks in water (fresh batch each time) and no grit at all. I hate sandy spinach if you couldn't tell.

            1. re: hill food

              Spinach gets washed repeatedly until there is no grit in the bottom of the bowl - from one to 5+ washings, depending on the spinach [one of the local farmers who shows up at our market claims he washes his baby spinach three times before he sells it: sometimes it still has sand on it].

              I use my salad spinner for cleaning greens: fill basket with greens, put in bowl, fill with water, agitate, let sit for a bit. Then remove basket with greens, check the water in bowl, clean bowl, repeat as necessary.

          2. re: mwhitmore

            I do this if I have a whole lot of wrinkly or puckery leaves with nooks and crannies to get caught in. Otherwise, I run water over both sides, shake and use the faucet on spray once more and I'm done.

            For a big bunch, though, the clean sink full of cold water gets it done best.

          3. Ok, so far, I think the answers are:

            Chemicalkinetics: B
            TeRReT: C
            fourunder: B
            coll: B
            mwhitmore: B
            tcamp: B

            Yes, like many of you, I often repeat the soaking, rinsing process a few times.

            1. Quick bath in not too cold water, gentle agitation.

              1. B, I don't rub tender greens, but will use more contact with a sturdier green.
                I usually cut/tear it up (because it's easier to handle, and not sure, but wonder if the water would enter the green on the cut surface, especially greens not quite fresh), put in water, swish around, do some other kitchen chore, then lift the greens out of the water, repeat as needed.

                1. Thanks guys. It appears that most people wash lefty vegetables by method B.

                  Chemicalkinetics B
                  TeRReT C
                  fourunder B
                  coll B
                  mwhitmore B
                  tcamp B
                  Maximilien B
                  wyogal B

                  1. I just rinse in a colander, then put through a salad spinner. If there is mud, as there sometimes is with spinach, I need to handle each leaf individually to clean.

                    1. It depends; if I'm cleaning escarole, which can be quite "dirty", I fill the sink about halfway (7 inches of water) and, holding the core in my hand, repeated plunge the head into the water. This takes out most of the dirt at one time. Most times I'll drain the sink and repeat the process. Depending on how many heads I'm making (up to 4) I might do this 4 times with all 4 heads being cleaned each time. It is by far the fastest method I've found.
                      Other veggies get rinsed, rubbed or, in the case of broccoli di rape, repeatedly bathed.

                      1. I go with B.

                        I usually soak and agitate the greens for about fifteen or twenty minutes, and then cook them.

                        I hate finding sand in my dishes.

                        1. In Mexico leafy vegetables like romaine are taken apart, head lettuce core is removed and then soaked for ten minutes with Microdyne to disinfect. I then use a salad spinner to get rid of excess water before wrapping in a paper towel and returning to refrigerator. Romaine package looks the same as Canada but instructions say wash and disinfect.

                          1. If I am being lazy I will rinse one leaf at a time under running water and rub with my fingers. I think the best way is to separate leaves, place in bowl, fill with water and swish around with a possible repeat...I do this with lettuce since it can be muddy.
                            Question for those you who fill the sink with water and wash...do you disinfect the sink basin beforehand or regularly or is it just relatively clean or keep one side specifically for washing?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: WhatsEatingYou

                              <If I am being lazy I will rinse one leaf at a time under running water and rub with my fingers.>

                              Do you mean "not lazy" because this method takes more work, I think. When I do wash the vegetables in a container, I do so in a large mixing bowl or a salad spinner, and have not use the sink for a long time for the concern you have suggested. The sink may actually be more dirty than the vegetables.

                              1. re: WhatsEatingYou

                                "Question for those you who fill the sink with water and wash...do you disinfect the sink basin beforehand or regularly or is it just relatively clean or keep one side specifically for washing?"

                                I've seen first hand what dysentery will do to an individual. As such, I make the time to clean the sink before I use it.

                                Scrubbing a sink only takes a few minutes, and this sort of attention to detail is what can save you from contracting a nasty little intestinal bug.

                                1. re: deet13

                                  Ain't that the truth, Deet13? I use a large stainless steel bowl. I do scrub the sink daily, but....your point is the reason I use a bowl, which I rinse (but don't wash, since I consider it clean already, same as dinner plates, etc.)

                                  1. re: deet13

                                    Yes, I do that. That's why I began rinsing my greens in a big bowl- it's already been through the dishwasher and saves the time of Cloroxing the sink.

                                2. B.

                                  1. Pull the leaves off the head or stem.

                                  2. Put in big bowl with cold water and swirl around.

                                  3. Dry in salad spinner.

                                  I've seen people substitute a sink for the bowl, but the sink always seem kind of gross (food residue, soap residue), etc. even if it looks clean.

                                  1. I wash via contact by hand. But I also cook almost all my leafy vegetables so I'm not too worried about getting sick from eating them.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: raytamsgv

                                      You are probably the first to use method A (by contact) as your domain method. I sometime do clean vegetables leaf by leaf with my hand, especially like Bok Choy or Cabbage, but even then I don't do it all the time.

                                      <I also cook almost all my leafy vegetables so I'm not too worried about getting sick from eating them.>

                                      Depending, if the idea is to clean insects and bacteria from the vegetables, then your logic is correct because cooking can kill insects and bacteria. However, if the concern is about chemicals (say pesticide), then heat won't do anything.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        Some pesticides can get absorbed into the plants themselves, so washing them may not have an effect at all.

                                        I usually find the bugs, but if I don't, at least they've had a bath and are cooked. :-)

                                    2. A, always.....leafies are one veg. I don't trust if I don't go through the entire one-leaf-at-a-time megillah.

                                      1. Leafy vegetables can be contaminated with pathogens, regardless of origin. There was an incident of California spinach contaminated with e-coli a few years ago, which is a real danger if used raw in a salad. The problem is, separating each leaf and individually rinsing under water is not sufficient to remove the bacteria. Immersion in a food-safe disinfectant is necessary to ensure safety. Not many people do that, I suspect. I don't.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: GH1618

                                          Then you have to wonder if you're ingesting the disinfectant, so I don't either.

                                        2. Cold running water. Period.

                                          I leave the hysterics to others.

                                          18 Replies
                                          1. re: Bacardi1

                                            "Hysterics" are no help in cleaning leafy vegetables, which is why no one here has suggested them as a method. I don't get your drift.

                                            1. re: GH1618

                                              Not necessarily for those on this particular thread, but for those who feel the need to rinse their greens in a bleach or other caustic solution before they feel they're "safe" to ingest.

                                              WAY too sad.

                                              1. re: Bacardi1

                                                That's a peculiar usage of "sad." What I think sad is that five people died from e-coli contamination of US-grown spinach.

                                                Mexivilla reported that packages of romaine in Mexico are labelled advising disinfection. That isn't hysteria, it's merely advice, and there may be a good reason for it.

                                                In the US, few people disinfect their lettuce and spinach (I don't), but we rely on growers and government inspectors and regulators to keep our food supply safe. They usually do, because they are diligent, not because they are hysterical.

                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                  I don't think I'm hysterical, but sometimes don't trust the USDA.

                                                  I'm sure the employees are as diligent as they can be, but how wide a territory are they assigned?

                                                2. re: Bacardi1

                                                  It's not caustic, it's extremely dilute to the point of unnoticeable, and I wish I were more diligent about doing it myself, actually.

                                                  For those of us who eat fresh, unprocessed veggies a lot, it seems like a very advisable practice, given the stats on food contamination and the huge increase in food borne illnesses and how fatal they are to children, especially.

                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                    If it's that dilute, I doubt it's doing much good then as far as "sanitizing" your vegetables.

                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                      What about using vinegar as a vegetable rinse?

                                                      1. re: wyogal

                                                        It is considered an effective method and confirmed by a few studies. I used to do it and then stopped just because I am lazy.

                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          I use it to clean the shower while my hair is being conditioned. I suppose I could add it to the lettuce wash, too, then!

                                                          1. re: wyogal

                                                            In my experience, I need to rinse the vinegar water a couple of time otherwise, the vegetables may acquire a taste of vinegar.

                                                            Good luck

                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                              but if it's greens (collard, dandelion, etc) you're cooking, the vinegar is welcome and often added.

                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                and on salad greens, I guess I could just splash on some olive oil and call it good! :)

                                                                1. re: wyogal

                                                                  No, while I agree with hill food about turnup and collard green, don't salad greens require a different kind of vinegar? :)

                                                                  Washing vegetables I would use the inexpensive white distilled vinegar. In salad, white vinegar is probably too plain, at least that's what I would guess. We use Balsamic vinegar and vinegears, right?

                                                                    1. re: wyogal

                                                                      Oh. :) I kind of thought so, but I wasn't sure because it actually may work. It is too real. Vinegar infused (by soaking) salad may taste different than just "dressing".

                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                        I wonder what dilution ratio, vinegar to water, would work for cleaning. I'll have to try it and report back.

                                                                        1. re: wyogal

                                                                          The common suggested ratio is 1:3 -- 1 part of white vinegar and 3 part of water.. Or really anything between 1:2 to 1:4 I think.

                                                                          I don't think you can test on your own. The reason is that research has shown that the vingear solution can improve removal of chemicals, pesticides, bacteria...etc compared to pure water. Most people at home won't able to measure the removal of these.

                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                            I meant testing for taste after soaking in the solution, then splashing oil on the leaves.

                                              2. I fill a sink with icewater, give em a quick bath, then dry them in a salad spinner.

                                                1. Depends on the vegetable, there's no way I'm going to scrub leafy greens, I soak them in several changes of water. If the greens are limp, I'll cut the ends off and let them sit in cool water for a while until they perk up, which they usually do.

                                                  1. B - most of the time

                                                    For a salad, I swish/soak the greens in my salad spinner and then spin dry. For cooked greens, I rinse in my colander.

                                                    Fos some reason, greens for a sandwich are usually just ripped off the head and added to the sandwich. I don't know why I do this. Maybe I think the sandwich has some magical disinfecting properties.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: NE_Elaine

                                                      You do it because you don' want wet, soggy bread. I use only romaine, and run both sides under the faucet, and blot firmly with a paper towel. :-)

                                                    2. Soak in a large bowl of cold water with several changes over a couple of hours. (It takes that long to drown the bugs and have them sink.)

                                                      1. For lettuce, I assemble my 40+ year old Copco (Made in USA) crank salad spinner, put the lettuce pieces in, fill it and let soak for a while. I swish if I think there is sand/dirt, and repeat if warranted. This soaking has the added benefit of crisping up the greens, even those that have become somewhat limp. When ready, I lift out the basket, pour off the water, then reinsert the basket, spin, shake lettuce around to break it up, then spin again for extra dryness.

                                                        If it's only one or two pieces I just rinse and dry with paper towel.

                                                        In the Summer I sometimes use my metal mesh salad basket instead of the spinner. It's so French to swing that thing over my head, but it's getting harder as the years go by.

                                                        1. Here are the complied results for washing leafy vegetables. Please correct me if I assigned you to the wrong category or that I incorrectly spelled your names. Thank you.

                                                          TeRReT C
                                                          fourunder B
                                                          coll B
                                                          mwhitmore B
                                                          tcamp B
                                                          hillfood B
                                                          tardigrade B
                                                          mcf B
                                                          Maximilien B
                                                          wyogal B
                                                          GH1618 B
                                                          thefamilychef B
                                                          deet13 B
                                                          mexivilla B
                                                          WatsEatingYou A
                                                          EWSflash B
                                                          taos B
                                                          raytamsgv A
                                                          mamachef A
                                                          Bacardi1 B
                                                          twyst B
                                                          NE_Elaine B
                                                          pikawicca B
                                                          johnb B

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                            hunh, I usually was a B+ average student...

                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                              :) If you think you are about 50:50 in A and B, I can change that later (like putting both for you). Let me know.

                                                              1. re: TeRReT

                                                                I know. It is totally weird. Maybe most Americans (US) do not trust food cleaniness as much as Canadians or Japanese.

                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                  do we (in the US) have reason to trust food cleanliness? and I am by no means fussy (as I pick food out of my sweater)

                                                            2. Oh, I just wash it in the spinner colander. Then I spin it. Haven't died yet. As for the others, I scrub them with a brush, and peel them, dammit. You lazy sods! Do you even know how much filth is under a potato skin?