A recent study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found one better alternative: baking soda. A solution of sodium bicarbonate and water can remove even more pesticides than water alone, provided you have more than a minute to spare. In the experiments, Gala apples that were allowed to soak in baking soda for eight minutes had significantly reduced pesticide residue on the surface, and at 12-15 minutes there were virtually no pesticides left. This is because sodium bicarbonate can help degrade the two types of pesticides used in this study, thiabendazole and phosmet. Even after the long soak time, though, there were some pesticides that the baking soda couldn’t get to. Thiabendazole and phosmet, like many other substances, seep into the skin and flesh of the produce they’re applied to.
If you’re hoping to avoid pesticides altogether, you’ll have to look beyond the organic aisle. Produce grown under organic conditions can still have pesticides, it’s just a different—and supposedly less toxic—set of them. But they’re still chemicals that can seep into your fruit through the skin or even leech into the flesh itself via the plant’s water supply, both of which prevent you from washing them away.
Takeaway: Try a Baking Soda wash.