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How to Wash Oranges 

Oranges are grown on the field and sold on the market where they attract a lot of dust. Also, when on the market, many people keep on touching them hence making them contaminated. Before eating an orange, it is recommended to wash them well to ensure they are clean and healthy for consumption. This article discusses different ways ion how to wash oranges. Also, it discusses the history, types and effects of eating oranges without washing.

These are oranges being washed on the kitchen sink with the faucet on.

Whether you buy or produce your fruits and veggies, you must wash them before consumption or cooking. For example, washing oranges eliminates pests, pesticide residues and reduces the bacterial load.

With proper cleaning, you can consume the entire orange if it has edible peels. However, in case it has inedible peels, washing reduces the transfer of germs during peeling.

Oranges can be contaminated anywhere along the lines. It can happen in the field while growing, during picking, or in transit. Oranges and other fruits can also be contaminated in your store or kitchen. However, most oranges get contaminated while in a grocery store as they wait to be bought.

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What are Oranges?

Oranges are citrus fruits that belong to the family Rutaceae. They are called sweet fruits to distinguish them from bitter oranges. Sweet oranges reproduce asexually. Oranges are a hybrid between pomelo and mandarin.

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How to Wash Oranges 

Washing Fruits Using Vinegar

One of the best ways of washing any fruits, such as mangoes, is filling a sink with tap water, adding a cup of vinegar, and stirring. Washing fruits and vegetables with white vinegar kill bacteria and improve the shelf life of your fresh oranges.

Washing fruits and veggies with vinegar has no adverse effects. Vinegar is very safe. The recommended combination is using three parts of water and one part of vinegar. This solution effectively kills all bacteria and other microorganisms that might trigger gastrointestinal diseases like diarrhea.

However, before you start washing your oranges with vinegar and water, ensure that your sink or any other cleaning container you are using is clean. This is because unclean sinks and containers can act as sources of pathogens. Adequate container cleaning breaks any chain of infection.

However, using vinegar is not necessary since, in most cases, water removes around 98 percent of bacteria and other organisms from fruit production. Therefore, use vinegar when you desire the percentage of bacterial and other disease-causing microorganisms to be significantly reduced.

Vinegar and acetic acid are safe remedies for cleaning and sanitizing farm produce such as fruits and vegetables. The effectiveness of orange and other fruits depends on the type of disease-causing pathogens you are probably encountering. In summary, cleaning depends on;

  • The amount and concentration of vinegar used
  • Soaking time. That is the time microorganisms are exposed to vinegar
  • Suspected microorganisms 
  • The amount and temperature of water used

It is recommended you soak the fruit for at least ten minutes. If you are cleaning different varieties of oranges, you can wash them separately. Most of the vinegar you buy from stores has a lower concentration than most formulations used for sterilizing fresh vegetables and fruits. Suppose you doubt sanitizing effectiveness, you can use commercial preparations such as a peroxyacetic acid-based sanitizer (tsunami).

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Tsunami contains peroxyacetic acid, which has long been used to control post-harvest microorganisms from crop production. However, since you are not sure which organisms are on your oranges, it is better to treat them for the worst-case scenario.

Washing Oranges Using Water

A single orange is being washed by hand under running water.

You should wash oranges with clean water to avoid mold growth during storage. You are also supposed to wash oranges before eating, prepare orange juice, or use them in any cooking recipe.

Start by washing your hands vigorously to avoid passing transient organisms from your hands to the oranges. Next, wash any handling containers thoroughly to reduce microbial loads. 

You should wash your hands and containers with hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds. If you have handled any raw meat, wash your hands with cold or warm water to avoid transferring germs to fruits. Finally, be sure to dry your hand completely using paper towels.

Wash and sanitize your orange preparation area also with a solution of a teaspoonful of chlorine bleach in one quart of water. 

Wash the oranges and other fruits like lemons under clean running tap water. Using distilled water will do well, but is more expensive. Use your two hands to vigorously rub the outside of the oranges as you rinse them with clean running water to remove all debris and harmful bacteria. 

Do not use soap and other detergents to wash oranges. Soaps and other chemicals can change the flavor of fresh fruits or can harm consumers. Instead, use different cutting boards or knives for raw meat and oranges. This will reduce the risk of transferring harmful bacteria from meat to oranges.

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Research has shown that just plain old water can remove 98 percent of pathogens from oranges when it is used to rinse and soak fruit produce.

Before washing oranges and other fruits such as citrus and avocado, remove the debris that is likely to reduce the efficacy of active ingredients such as acetic acid.

Washing Oranges with a Baking Wash

Oranges should be washed before preparing or eating to remove pesticide residues and dirt. Do not leave any moisture on vegetables and fruits as it can harbor microorganisms that can rot them.

Here are the steps you can follow when washing fruits and vegetables using soda:

  • Please wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds because they could carry germs and dirt.
  • Suppose you are using your kitchen sink to wash your oranges; ensure you sanitize it thoroughly to kill all germs.
  • If you intend to clean a lot of oranges, it is recommended you use your kitchen sink. It would be best to use a clean mixing bowl for a small number of oranges and herbs, such as cilantro or blueberries.
  • Fill your bowl or sink with cold water until it is two-thirds full. This leaves enough space for adding oranges without any spilling. After this, add ARM & HAMMER baking soda to the cold water in a bowl. If you are using a bowl, add only a teaspoon of soda for every two cups of water. For the sink, add 3-4 spoons of soda and swish it around to enhance distribution.
  • Submerge the oranges in this baking soda solution.
  • Leave it to soak for 12-15 minutes for soda to do its job perfectly. Push the fresh oranges around or push them down several times to ensure all sides are cleaned.
  • Remove the product from the water and let it dry before you eat or prep.
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Importance of Washing Oranges

Two oranges are being washed by hand under the kitchen faucet.

Medical professionals recommend washing fruit like oranges and citrus to reduce the risk of ingesting harmful pesticide residues and germs that may harm your health. Thorough fruit washing serves the following advantages;

Removes Chemicals Like pesticides

The majority of fruits are cultivated on non-organic farms where different chemicals are sprayed to control pest infestation. Therefore, even organic fruits may have traces of pesticides or disease control chemicals. Although they may not get adverse body reactions immediately, long-term exposure can lead to cumulative effects.

To Remove Insects and their Waste Residues

Insects that live on oranges can defecate on them, leaving their waste lingering on your oranges. You need to wash off this waste to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal symptoms. In addition, some insects may still be on your fruit; thus, you must wash them off. Oranges not only acquire insects on the farm; they can also attract them while on long transit.

To Remove Dirt and Grime

Dirt may be in the form of soul splashes or defecate from birds. Dirt can also be in the form of fertilizers. Oranges are also likely to accumulate dirt during harvesting, packing, and transit. The dirt and grime can directly or indirectly ruin your health. 

For instance, soil dirt can harbor worm eggs or larvae, which can cause worm infestation in a consumer. In addition, dirt may have disease-causing microorganisms, which can trigger vomiting and diarrhea in consumers.


Oranges can accumulate bacteria from the farm or from handlers who pick, transport, deliver or display them at your local store. Just like washing hands, washing oranges reduces the load of transient bacteria that may be on your fruit.

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Furthermore, washing oranges increases their lifespan; therefore, they can be stored for an extended period. 

What Happens When Oranges are not Properly Washed 

The freshly harvested oranges are washed at the farm on a moving machine.

Proper washing of fruits and veggies is meant to protect the consumer and enhance the lifespan of the farm produce. Inadequate fruit washing can lead to adverse effects like;

  • Altered taste- this can occur due to the interference of herbicides.
  • Consuming unwashed fruit can lead to diarrhea or infestation by worms
  • Pesticide residues can trigger allergies in susceptible individuals 
  • Inadequate orange washing can reduce its shelf life, which can increase the risk of incurring losses.
  • Dirt fruit is not appealing. Therefore, they can send customers away.

Origin of oranges 

Oranges trace their origin from a place encompassing Southern China, Northeast India, and Myanmar. Oranges were first mentioned in Chinese literature in 314 BC. Oranges were the most cultivated crop in the world in the year 1987.

Oranges can be eaten fresh or processed for their fragrant orange juice or peel. As of 2012, oranges (sweet oranges) accounted for approximately 70% of citrus production. In the year 2019, about 79 million tons of oranges were cultivated globally. Brazil was the leading producer, with 22%, followed by China and India respectively.

All citrus trees belong to one genus, citrus, which is entirely interfertile. Other fruits in this genus include grapefruits, lemons, and limes.

Types of Oranges 

Navel Oranges 

This is a bunch of ripe navel oranges with a couple of sliced ones.

Navel oranges are sweet, slightly bitter oranges. They are the most common type of oranges. They have a signature mark on the bottom, which resembles a belly button. Because of their flavor, they are suitable for salads.

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Cara Cara Oranges

Pieces of ripe and sliced caracara oranges on a bowl.

Cara cara oranges are known for their low acid levels and refreshing sweetness. The sweetness makes them an inevitable choice for snacks, orange juice, and raw dishes. They also have minimal seeds.

Valencia Oranges 

These are freshly harvested Valencia oranges with leaves.

Valencia oranges have thin skin but have a lot of orange juice. Therefore, they are used to producing orange juice. In addition, they can be eaten raw, but you must be careful with the seeds. Valencia oranges were created in California.

Blood Oranges

These are blood oranges with slices on a dark plate.

Blood oranges acquired their name due to the deep red color of their juice. In addition, they have a unique flavor, that is, tart oranges mixed with raspberries and plump. They are an excellent addition to the sauce, but they can also be eaten raw or juiced.

Seville Oranges

These are ripe Seville oranges ready to be harvested.

They are the Mediterranean, also referred to as sour oranges. Seville oranges have minimal sweetness but are bitter and tart. They are the best for marmalade since they can complement a large amount of sugar to be added.

These fruits are acidic; thus, you won’t enjoy them raw.

Lima Oranges

This is a bunch of Lima oranges on display at a market.

Lima oranges are sweet with minimal acidity or tartness. They are soft and tender, which makes them suitable for salads and juicing. However, their lack of acidity reduces shelf life.

Mandarin Oranges

These are fresh and ripe Mandarin oranges on a basket.

They are a group of citrus fruits with loose skin and a flattened appearance. Mandarin oranges are small and easy to peel. They are great for baking since they are seedless. Mandarins are also excellent for snacks and salads.