Cleaning your Greens (and Oranges and Reds and Yellows) with Dr. B’s (Video)

Six legged stowaways are a possibility on any produce.  Yes, I mean bugs.  Are they toxic?  Not usually.  Do I want to eat them?  Not personally.  Even without the critters, produce just needs a little bath.  And even moreso, non-organic produce that might be waxed – such as apples or cucumbers – definitely need a scrub.

Once again, enter Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soaps and Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds.

This is me during the annual farm tour at JR Organics in Escondido. They host this “pick your own” moment only during their tour.

Bug Elimination

As I’ve established before, critters with exoskeletons perish in the presence of Castile soap and I still don’t know why.  However, it is a great help with buggy leaves.  Here’s a fabulously effective remedy when you come across a head of lettuce or bunch of kale with some tagalongs:


1 or 2 big bowls filled with cool water

Castile soap (I use the Citrus in the very off chance that it doesn’t get fully rinsed.  A little citrus would blend right in, where eucalyptus or tea tree might not.)


Squirt the castile soap into one of the bowls of water.  (I don’t measure this, but I would guess about half a tablespoon.  And it doesn’t get bubbly, but it might get cloudy.) Separate the leaves from the head or bunch and plunge them whole into the bowl of slightly soapy water.  You can put many leaves in at a time as long as there’s still room for swishing the water around them.  Swish, swish, swish the leaves.  You’ll notice a lot of floaters in your bowl. Then, take the leaves out, shake the water off a bit and plunge them into the bowl of clear water.  (Or if you only have one bowl, dump the soapy water and add clean water and do the same.)  Dry the leaves however you prefer.

“But Lisa, that’ll take FOREVER!”  Honestly, it’s taken me much, much longer to write this description that it takes me to wash a head of lettuce.  Once you’ve identified the bowl and grabbed the soap, it’s really a quick thing to do.

Dirt elimination

If your produce just has a bit of field dust on it, either the Castile Soap or Sal Suds will get rid of it.  I prefer using a big bowl of water with either one added to it, as opposed to washing under running water.  I think it saves time and water in the long run for me, but then, I’m usually washing a lot at one time.

With Castile Soap: Fill a big bowl with water; add a small squirt of castile soap.  Swish your produce and rinse.

With Sal Suds: Add just a drop or two to a big bowl of water and swish away.

Wax elimination

The wax that is put on certain non-organic produce to make it more presentable and even preserves it a bit can be trickier to eliminate.  However, Sal Suds is the best option for this job.  Take that big bowl of water and add the two drops of Sal Suds.  Dunk the produce and take a soft cloth to rub the wax off gently.  Rinse and dry and there you go.  Check out a quick video about it here.


16 thoughts on “Cleaning your Greens (and Oranges and Reds and Yellows) with Dr. B’s (Video)

  1. Can you use Dr Bonners Lavender soap for disinfecting dishes when someone in the house is sick ? I wanted to add a dash to the dish water so the rest of us wont catch the “bug”. I rinse them well. Does it matter which scent soap you use for things? Thanks in advance for your help. Blessings,

    • Hi Kathy – Soap will get your dishes fully clean, getting rid of germs as well as grease and grime. Any of the scents work well. Pick the one that makes you happy!

  2. Hey All – I am very sorry it’s been a while. A vegetable spray would be fantastic. I would do the same sort of dilution I recommend on spraying plants: 1 Tbsp. soap in a quart of water in a spray bottle. You might want to leave out the garlic or chili powder option that I mention, though. I have to say that I often go Helen’s route and don’t wash my produce at all – I just rinse it to get rid of field dust. However, there are waxes that are approved for use on organic produce, especially if it comes from a large grocery store. I still don’t want to eat the wax, no matter how “approved” it is. It gets in the way of a delicious snack. So I will wash it off with soap. This generally the case for store bought apples, cucumbers and bell peppers, as well as other “shiny” produce.

    Jean – I am very sorry you didn’t get an immediate response by calling the office. That is unusual. I hope my recommendation above helps for a plant spray.

    Regarding the fruit flies, much to my dismay, I discovered that good red wine also works really well at attracting fruit flies. Sigh. I was too leisurely in drinking my glass one evening and they found it first. Apple Cider Vinegar with soap is the one I would intentionally concoct, though.

    I hope all is well!


  3. I have been trying to get some information today. I bought the Eucalyptus Dr Bonner’s Castile soap last night and want to know if I should use this or the peppermint soap to 1 gallon of water for mites on my tomato plants. I have tried calling, emailed earlier today, but not getting any answers back as of yet and would like to have some answer as to which would be best to use and safety for tomatoes and consumption.

  4. Ha! This explains while the little critters hang out around my homemade kombucha!!! Guess they have good taste. Did anyone ever answer about a vegetable wash spray??

  5. This is an awful idea. If produce has a little field dirt or insect stowaways on it, water alone is sufficient to clean it. You don’t need soap for that–not that you should be washing produce with soap anyway since produce is porous and will absorb that soap!

    • Well I’ve used detergent to clean a bell pepper and remove the waxy feel years ago when I was first learning to cook and yes, THAT was a terrible idea. Now I use Bronners to clean my fruits and veggies and it removes everything except for the taste. Bugs and all.

  6. Tracy, Be happy for the fruit flies! It just means the produce was probably not doused with toxic chemicals or irradiated! I would much prefer bugs!

    I have seen recipes for fruit fly traps. Try a google. I think ACV and a splash of Bronner’s castile liquid soap but don’t remember for sure.

  7. Hi Tracy, this happened to me before and my kitchen was infested until: A glass of cider vinegar mixed with some water and a few drops of dish soap will also do the trick.

    It was so amazing to watch those little flies fly towards the mixture. they fly around it for a little bit but then eventually they succumb.

  8. Can you make a vegetable wash spray instead of the dunk and swish method. I am also wondering how to thicken up the Sals Suds dish soap that I made from your recipe. Please help.

  9. Related to this, I’m wondering if you can offer advice on a problem I’m having. My family and I bought some fruit last week from a grocer that often has fruit flies, and now it seems they have bred because they are everywhere! I’ve tried everything I can, but the little flies just keep coming. I will not be buying fruit from this store again, but in the mean time do you have any idea how to gt rid of them? Thanks so much!

    • During the spring summer we get tons of fruit flies. We put a small glass with about 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 1tsp dish soap. Put plastic wrap on top and pokes a few holes they don’t need to be big. That’s it. I put one in each of my food cupboards during this season. You’ll be amazed how many you’ll get. I change mine out often. The soap will help keep them there as well as the plastic. The apple cider will draw them in.
      Good luck. I would also suggest washing any fruit and produce as soon as you get them home. I like using the Castile for washing as she shows :).

    • One cup of Apple cider vinegar and a few drops of dish soap.

    • This summer I tried a different method to control fruit flies. It worked extremely well. I simply completely covered any fruit that was out on my counter with a dish towel. No, it didn’t look great – but was usually only one bowl, with perhaps a smaller punnet of berries. BUT, my house was free of fruit flies!

      A friend visited and told me about the fruit in a dish with punctured cling film, so I tried that for a week or two. I found the problem with that was that the fruit flies were attracted to it and multiplied. Plus it looked pretty gross unless it was emptied frequently.

      I went back to my method of covering the fruit, and the flies went away. It seemed that covering the fruit with a dish towel was enough of a deterrent to send them to someone else’s house, so far more effective for me.

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