Is Vinegar or Tap Water an Effective Produce Wash? A Ph.D.'s Perspective

Is Vinegar or Tap Water an Effective Produce Wash? A Ph.D.'s Perspective

Dr. Shawki Ibrahim, Ph.D.


On a seemingly regular basis, the news shares the traumatic effects of food borne illness on human lives and the companies impacted, as recently took place with Chipotle. Perhaps a more publicized case, but the fact remains, there are regular bacteria-related recalls of produce that go under the radar that are affecting people’s health consistently, which could otherwise be avoided with proper food washing education and dispelling the myths around unproven approaches.


Statistics show that only about 50% of consumers wash their fresh produce at all, and most of them use tap water. Lately, there have been many outspoken advocates of using household vinegar (acetic acid) as a cleaner for fresh vegetables and fruits. Yet the fact remains, there is no credible, scientific data regarding the efficacy of vinegar or water alone as an anti-microbial agent on fresh produce.


Here are the issues associated with using household vinegar as a cleaner for fresh produce:


1- It does not kill dangerous microbes like E.coli and is not registered as disinfectant (consult; ” A guide to killing microbes”);

2- When used alone, vinegar lacks the ability to remove soil and dirt particles from produce, which can harbor microorganisms and has poor ability to disinfect;

3- The minimum concentration of vinegar required to be effective as a bacteria kill is 4-5%, which is the concentration of typical vinegar on food stores shelf at full strength. That said, it would need to be used straight from the bottle, which does not make it a cost effective solution;

4- The strong odor and flavor of vinegar could affect the sensory attributes of produce significantly

EatCleaner vs Water-Vinegar



Here are the issues associated with using water alone as a cleaner for fresh produce:


1 – According to “Disinfection 101, Center for Food Security and Public Health” and the Center for Disease Control, “water alone is not an effective cleaner for removing potentially harmful contaminants from fresh produce.”


2 – Water alone cannot remove pesticides, agro chemicals, wax and other agents that are only organic soluble.


3- Water alone has no impactful microbial kill ability.


4- Water alone has no ability to remove the biofilm (organic soluble only) that microbes can form.


5- Without a surfactant, the most you can expect is some removal of dirt and soil particles.



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After all, what else do we ‘clean’ with water alone? Not our plates, not our laundry, not our hair – nothing.


eatCleaner® is a patented, lab-proven blend of synergistic ingredients that work together to significantly boost the cleaning ability of potential contaminants from vegetables and fruits.


eatCleaner is pre-measured and easy to use in a spray, concentrate, or wipes form. No guesswork required. The active ingredients are known to prevent the absorption of nutrients by microorganisms and alter the permeability of cell wall causing microbes, encouraging microbial cell death. Some of the active ingredients are also capable of chelating metal ions present in the cell wall.

eatCleaner contains a plant-based surfactant, which is important in removing dirt and soil particles, wax and chelating non water-soluble agricultural materials. The formula is effective in removing bacterial bio film and enhance microbial kill.


A big added benefit is that eatCleaner contains an antioxidant blend that significantly extends shelf life, preserves color and texture of the produce.


The ingredients in eatCleaner are all-natural in origin and are found in most living systems. Unlike vinegar, it is odorless and tasteless on food.


eatCleaner is gluten-free and made from non-GMO and vegan ingredients, while most vinegars manufactured in the United States are derived from corn, and most corn crops are GMO or petroleum.


eatCleaner is inexpensive, and averages just $5 per bottle, which will last most consumer an average 30-60 days. Instead of throwing away rotten produce every month, save water, save time, save money, save guesswork and potentially save your health with eatCleaner®. Get your starter eatCleaner Essentials Bundle today


About Dr. Shawki Ibrahim


Shawki Ibrahim is a well-respected scientist and environmental health expert. Previously, he was a professor emeriturs in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences at Colorado State University (CSU). He received a doctorate degree in Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences from New York University (NYU) and was an Assistant Research Scientist at NYU’s Institute of Environmental Medicine for 5 years, prior to joining CSU in 1980. He has more than 28 years of experience in the areas of radiological measurements, radioanalytical chemistry, nuclear waste management, and the environmental distribution and behavior of radioactivity. In particular, he developed several radiochemical procedures for the determination of natural and man-made radionulcides in a variety of sample media. Over the years, he has accumulated significant research experience in assessing the distribution and behavior of radioactive contaminant around DOE nuclear weapon facilities and uranium mining and milling operations. Recently, he received the DOE Radiochemistry Education Award to train a new generation of radiochemists to meet the national need for such personnel. In addition to his research and teaching responsibilities at CSU, he has served on the National Academy of Sciences Committee to evaluate EPA guidelines for exposure to naturally-occurring radioactive materials (NORM), as consultant to the Science Advisory Board’s Radiation Advisory Committee of EPA on the Multi-Agency Radiological Laboratory Analytical Protocols (MARLAP), as a member of the Rocky Flats Environmental Restoration Committee, and assisted in the development of radiological monitoring capabilities at the nuclear test site in the Marshall Islands. He is presently developing a training program in radiation detection and public safety for first responders in homeland security. He has written over 70 open literature publications in refereed journals and technical series and many other technical reports on the measurements, distribution and behavior of radioactivity on humans and the environment.

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