Cleaning Fruits and Vegetables Using Hydrogen Peroxide

Cleaning Fruits and Vegetables Using Hydrogen Peroxide

Fruits and vegetables are some of the most essential parts of our diet, if not the most. They give all the crucial macronutrients and vitamins while being a treat to the taste buds. But did you know they can also cause many dangerous diseases?

Don’t get us wrong!

Fruits and vegetables improve your health. However, the fresh produce we buy directly from the market is covered with millions of bacteria, germs, and pesticides that are harmful to the body, to say the least. Vendors are careless when it comes to cleaning the produce, and that’s a red alert!

Moreover, to make matters worse, vendors add synthetic preservatives and layers of wax on the fruits and veggies to make them more appetizing. These added preservatives are harmful! Yes, you guessed it!

So how can you prevent them from entering your body? Is cleaning fruits and vegetables just with water enough, or do they require some special agent as well? Can a disinfecting agent work on removing bacteria from them?

Find out answers to all these questions and more by reading this article. So without further ado, let’s begin!

Hydrogen Peroxide for Disinfection – It’s Perfect!

Hydrogen peroxide is the talk of the town when it comes to disinfecting. This water-like agent can remove all kinds of bacteria and pathogens effectively. And more than that, it can be applied to virtually any surface, albeit skin or kitchen counters, for an adequate and deep clean.

But how can hydrogen peroxide do all that, and what property makes it so unique?

Anti-Bacterial Properties

Bacteria are one of the most widespread pathogens in the world. Although these minuscule organisms are not seen by the eye, they make up most of the surfaces we touch and the air we inhale.

Some of them are beneficial to us (in the form of industrial and intestinal flora), while the rest can be deadly.

When it comes to combating these microorganisms, standard dusting and wiping become useless. In such cases, the use of hydrogen peroxide and other disinfecting agents is needed!

Hydrogen peroxide (or any other disinfecting agent) contains some chemical products that react and eliminate after coming into contact with a pathogen.

However, as one may expect, this killing agent is somewhat toxic and can be harmful to the body if it is used in the vicinity. But not hydrogen peroxide!

This simple agent contains two molecules of oxygen, one of which is loosely bound to the lattice and dissociates quickly.

Released oxygen is highly reactive and combines with whatever chemical product it comes into contact with. This includes the bacterial cell wall and inner organelles prone to oxidative damage.

Anti-Fungal Properties

Fungi are another class of organisms that commonly infect plants, vegetables, and fruits. These nasty organisms are characterized by having a stubborn structure that is not easily removed by simple disinfecting tools.

Fungi, like other microbes, are either free-living or pathogens. The pathogen form of fungi is known to cause irritating diseases in humans.

While in plants and other fresh products, they are known to cause spoilage and even infect the roots of plants to steal their water and nutrition!

However, even these creatures are no match against the oxidative properties of hydrogen peroxide. Whenever hydrogen peroxide is applied over a surface containing fungi growth, the reactive oxygen species quickly start to react with chitin, which is an important chemical constituent of the fungi cell wall.

But changing the composition of the cell wall, hydrogen peroxide can kill fungi efficiently.

Another deciding factor for using hydrogen peroxide against fungi is the habitat where fungi love to multiply.

Most fungal pathogens require an anaerobic (e.g., without oxygen) and moist environment to grow.  Hydrogen peroxide alters these conditions by introducing oxygen into the system, preventing fungal growth!

Pathogens That Might Be Hiding in Fresh Produces!

Now that we know some of the amazing hydrogen disinfecting properties of hydrogen peroxide, it’s time to discuss some of the most common plant pathogens that you may encounter. And spoiler alert, hydrogen peroxide defeats them all.

It is important to understand what enemy you are facing before you can wage war against the microbial agents. Some of the common fruit and vegetable pathogens are:

Salmonella

Salmonella is a common bacteria that is linked with notorious Salmonella infection, also known as salmonellosis. This disease is known to affect the intestinal tract.

This bacteria loves to creep into animal and human intestines and shed through feces. Most of the natural fertilizers used in farms consist of cattle dung. Therefore, the most common route for this bug is the fecal-oral route, as seen in fresh farm produce.

Typical symptoms of salmonellosis are systematic like nausea, vomiting, cramps (abdominal in origin), fever, mild to moderate diarrhea, and headaches.

E. coli

Escherichia coli, otherwise known as E. coli, are common bacteria found in the human intestine. Many E. coli strains are nonpathogenic and are linked with decreasing the risk for other pathogenic infections. However, a minority of strains such as serotype O157:h7 may cause detrimental human illnesses.

E.coli o157:h7 is a dangerous, possibly fatal bacterium that is linked to fresh produce such as spinal and leafy green vegetables. This bacterium produces large quantities of hazardous toxins that cause severe damage to intestinal linings.

Some of the common illnesses associated with this pathogen include hemorrhagic colitis, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS mainly affects young children and is one of the leading causes of childhood renal failure.

Cyclospora

Cyclospora cayetanensis is a parasite composed of one cell linked with an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis. The most common way this bug affects humans is by ingesting contaminated food. People living or traveling in tropical or subtropical regions of the world suffer from this endemic.

Cyclospora is a somewhat slow-onset bacterium. It takes about one week after the exposure to develop any symptoms.

This bacterium commonly infects the small intestine and causes watery diarrhea that can be explosive. Associated symptoms include appetite loss, weight loss, stomach cramps, bloating, gas, fever, and fatigue.

Cyclospora infections can be easily prevented by using a disinfecting agent such as hydrogen peroxide to clean fresh fruits and vegetables bought from the market.

Listeria

Listeria monocytogenes is an example of typical opportunistic bacteria, e.g., bacteria that infects people with compromised immune systems. Some of the most common targets of this bacteria are pregnant women, the elderly, and people suffering from AIDS and SCID.

This bacteria causes a disease called listeriosis which is characterized by flu-like symptoms, including but not limited to persistent fever. Gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are some of the commonly associated complications.

Raw vegetables are the primary source of listeria infections. It can be easily avoided by following a proper cleaning and disinfecting regimen.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is perhaps one of the most common diseases caused by contamination in developing countries. The most common route of transmission is the fecal-oral route. It is a severe complication associated with liver problems.

Symptoms linked with hepatitis are a direct manifestation of liver damage. They include jaundice, fever, malaise (restlessness), nausea, anorexia (loss in appetite), and abdominal discomfort.

Hepatitis A is most common in people who do not practice hygienic eating habits and love to eat from unsanitized stalls and stands. It is transmitted via uncleaned fruits and vegetables and through infected factory workers in food processing plants.

Rinsing Fresh Produce Using Hydrogen Peroxide

Now that we know exactly what pathogens infect the plant produces and how hydrogen peroxide effectively eliminates them, we can move on to the nitty-gritty of the procedure.

Fresh produce is the daily household groceries we purchase from the market. They include fruits, vegetables, and other farm products. And as one may expect, they are covered with hundreds of harmful bacteria and pathogens, which we have discussed above.

So it is incredibly essential to wash your plant products thoroughly!

What You Need

The great thing about hydrogen peroxide is how easy it makes procedures. All you have to do while using hydrogen peroxide is make an environment suitable enough for introducing hydrogen peroxide, while the rest of the cleaning process occurs simultaneously!

For cleaning fresh produce using hydrogen peroxide, what you need is:

And that’s pretty much it!

How to Use

The process of rinsing fresh produce using hydrogen peroxide is divided into two main parts: making the solution and using it.

To make the solution, you have to:

  • Take a medium-sized bowl and pour a cup of water
  • Then add a cup of hydrogen peroxide into the same bowl and give it a mix
  • This 50-50 water to hydrogen peroxide solution is what you need to wash off germs and bacteria from fruits and vegetables
  • Make sure to make a fresh batch for every session, as hydrogen peroxide quickly dissociates and loses its capabilities when exposed to air

Now that you have got your secret sauce, it’s time to get cleaning! What you have to do is:

  • Wear gloves and other protective gear before starting the procedure
  • Take the bowl containing hydrogen peroxide solution and add fruits and vegetables needed to be clean
  • A few seconds after spraying, you will start to notice distinct “sizzling” sounds. This is the hydrogen peroxide releasing oxygen.
  • Make sure to rub the produce for a more thorough clean, thoroughly
  • After a few minutes, take a wet cloth and scrub the peroxide away from fruits and vegetables
  • Any microbes or fungus present will quickly come off after being dipped in hydrogen peroxide
  • Repeated the procedure if needed

And that’s about it! By now, your fruits and vegetables will be free from bacterial and fungal pathogens. All it took was a bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide and a couple of minutes of your time.

Benefits

Some of the fantastic benefits of using hydrogen peroxide for farm produce are:

  • The first is the apparent cleaning effect of hydrogen peroxide, making the fruits and vegetables safe for you and your family. Using a disinfecting agent such as hydrogen peroxide, all the dangerous microbes, and pesticide chemicals are removed, and only the fresh, nutritious part of the product remains.
  • The second great benefit of using hydrogen peroxide for farm produce is how it increases the life of fruits and vegetables. Bacteria and opportunistic fungi are the primary reasons fruits and vegetables start to lose taste and suffer spoilage. Once these pathogens are removed from the surfaces, the longevity of the products is ensured!
  • The third amazing benefit of using hydrogen peroxide for fruits and vegetables is how it brings out the taste! As one can expect, bacteria and pathogens do not taste good. More precisely, they make the fruit and vegetables taste bad. By making your products microbe-free, you can increase their life and make them more delicious to eat!

Improving Fruit Quality By Using Hydrogen Peroxide on Plants

The next part of the procedure involves treating fruits and vegetables that are still present on plants, developing, or ripe. The plant bark is a central spot where fungi and bacteria love to attack produce.

But did you know that hydrogen peroxide is one of the best disinfecting tools we can use over plants? This is based on the fact that hydrogen peroxide is a natural disinfecting agent and the byproducts it liberates have some amount of concentration inside the plant cells.

What You Need

Again, the excellent benefit hydrogen peroxide gives its user is how easy it makes procedures. All you have to do is create an environment suitable enough for introducing hydrogen peroxide while the rest of the cleaning process occurs simultaneously!

For cleaning fresh produce using hydrogen peroxide, what you need is:

And that’s pretty much it!

How to Use

All you have to do to remove bacteria and fungus from ripe fruits using hydrogen peroxide is:

  • Wear gloves and other protective gear before starting the procedure
  • Take a spray bottle and add a cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution into it
  • Then carefully spray peroxide over the sites that show microbial growth, or you suspect is affected
  • A few seconds after spraying, you will start to notice distinct “sizzling” sounds. This is the hydrogen peroxide releasing oxygen.
  • Make sure to spray all the sites suspected of microbial growth
  • After a few minutes, take a wet cloth and scrub the peroxide away from fruits and vegetables
  • Any microbes or fungus present will easily come off after being sprayed with hydrogen peroxide
  • Repeated the procedure if needed

And that’s about it! By now, your plant will be free from bacterial and fungal pathogens. All it took was a bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide and a couple of minutes of your time.

Benefits

Some of the amazing benefits of using hydrogen peroxide for ripe fruits and vegetables on plants:

  • Firstly, and evidently, hydrogen peroxide makes fruits and vegetables safe from bacteria and fungi. All the dangerous microbes and pesticide chemicals are removed using a disinfecting agent such as hydrogen peroxide. Only the fresh, nutritious part of the product remains, which vastly increases the quality of the product.
  • The second great benefit of using hydrogen peroxide on plants is how it prevents the fungal root rot of fruits and vegetables. Bacteria and opportunistic fungi are the primary reason why fruits and vegetables start to lose their freshness and suffer spoilage. Ripe products are even more prone to this damage as they contain high amounts of carbohydrates and sugar, which pathogens love to feed upon. Once these pathogens are removed from the surfaces, pathogen-free growth is ensured!
  • The third amazing benefit of using hydrogen peroxide for fruits and vegetables is how it brings out health in other parts of the plant as well. As mentioned before, hydrogen peroxide is a natural component of the plant cell, and it has receptors for the said chemical. Once these receptors come into contact with hydrogen peroxide, they start to process cellular changes that ultimately result in the growth of plants! More of that is discussed in the next section.

Benefits Of Using Hydrogen Peroxide Over Other Disinfecting Agents

Now that we have gone over all the aspects related to the cleaning part of fresh farm produces, the next question is, why do we encourage the use of hydrogen peroxide?

There are so many disinfecting agents out there that are stronger and certainly more potent than 3% hydrogen peroxide. Why can’t we use those?

The answer is hinted at in the previous sections as well. Hydrogen peroxide is non-toxic by nature. The molecular structure of hydrogen peroxide is a lot like water but with an additional oxygen molecule.

Therefore, hydrogen peroxide and its byproducts, e.g., water and oxygen, are non-toxic by nature.

On the other hand, disinfecting agents like bleach and ammonia have similar disinfecting capacities as hydrogen peroxide. However, they contain toxic salts and chemicals like chlorine which are incompatible with the inner system of living organisms.

Another exclusive benefit of using hydrogen peroxide for plants is how it blends in with the natural cellular composition of the cell.

The plant cells constantly produce hydrogen peroxide in the form of ROS. Colonies of cells use these reactive oxygen species to communicate with each other. When ROS reaches a plant cell, it elicits an influx of calcium ions inside the cell, which has a long list of mechanisms.

What Concentration of Hydrogen Peroxide is Ideal

Arguably, the hardest part of the hydrogen peroxide cleaning procedure is choosing which one is best for you. The different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide directly correlate with the task at hand.

However, for all the procedures that involve human use of hydrogen peroxide or at surfaces that have living organisms, 3% hydrogen peroxide concentration is the best-suited.

At this concentration, hydrogen peroxide is free from all toxic stabilizers present in higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. Moreover, 3% hydrogen peroxide concentration is strong enough to combat microbes and dilute so as not to cause any damage to human skin.

In all of the procedures mentioned above, we have chosen 3% hydrogen peroxide as the chemical to go with.

Safety Precautions You Must Take!

If you have picked up 3% hydrogen peroxide for the cleaning and disinfecting procedure, you are already on the right path of following recommended safety precautions.

However, even at this low concentration, you must be wary of this that can go wrong with careless use.

During the process of washing fruits and vegetables using hydrogen peroxide, make sure to limit the contact of the chemical with your skin.

You can do this by either wearing protective gear and gloves or by maintaining a safety factor by washing your hands every 5 mins of contact with the chemical.

The same goes with the washed products.

Ensure to wash the produce with water properly once you are done with the procedure. Following this step will help you avoid taking the chemical in your body. Ingesting hydrogen peroxide is a severe condition if done in higher amounts.

This goes without saying but make sure to keep hydrogen peroxide away from your nose and eyes. Though the tough layer of skin can fend off most of the irritants associated with the chemical, mucosal linings of the nose and eyes are very sensitive to oxidative damage.

A trace amount of hydrogen peroxide can cause serious irritation of the eyes and nose if it’s concentrated. Similarly, keep the chemical away from children’s reach.

One last thing you should be careful about while using hydrogen peroxide is to monitor the expiry date on the bottle. Generally, hydrogen peroxide bottles last for three years if they are sealed. Once opened, the expiry date shrinks down to mere six months.

Hydrogen peroxide is somewhat fragile, so make sure to keep it away from direct sunlight and air (both of which can trigger the dissociation process).

Tip: To check whether the hydrogen peroxide you are using is active or not, take some of it and pour it down the sink. Sinks like that of the kitchen contain enough organic matter to trigger the bubbling process instantly. If such sounds are not heard, chances are the hydrogen peroxide you are using is expired.

The Bottom Line

Hydrogen peroxide is a natural disinfecting agent that is an ally to plants. Not only can it remove all kinds of bacterial and fungal growth from fruits and vegetables, but it can also promote plant health while doing so.

Using hydrogen peroxide to clean fresh produce is an amazing way to keep you and your family safe from harmful pathogens that are always looking to enter your body.

More so if you buy vegetables and fruits directly from the market or live in a developing country.

Like many other procedures, feel free to add hydrogen peroxide into your routine and see the magic. Get your set of hydrogen peroxide bottles today!

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