How—and When—to Wash Grapes So They Stay Fresh

Plus, tips on how to store them.

When you come home from the grocery store with grapes in tow, it can be tempting to skip the wash and pop them in your mouth for a quick bite. After all, one of the best things about grapes is their convenience as a ready-to-eat, nutrient-dense snack.

But it's important to take the time to clean each portion of grapes properly before you eat them. The tips below will teach you why, when, and how to wash grapes for your many needs: after-school snacks, cheese boards, late night munchies, and the like.

floating grapes
Olivia Barr

Why You Need to Wash Grapes

Grapes belong to the Dirty Dozen—an annual list of produce with the highest levels of pesticides, compiled by the Environmental Working Group. The EWG recommends splurging on organic grapes, but not everyone can afford to buy organic produce, which can get quite expensive. If you opt for regular, non-organic grapes, take extra care when you're cleaning them to remove as much pesticide residue as possible.

When to Wash Grapes

Hold off on washing grapes until you're ready to eat them! The washing process adds excess moisture, which can cause the grapes to decompose faster than they otherwise would. While it seems practical to wash all of your grapes as soon as you get home from the store, you should actually only clean what you plan to eat right then and there, or in the near future.

The bloom (that waxy white film on grapes) helps keep the grapes fresh, so it's best to avoid washing it off until you're ready to snack on the fruit For ultimate longevity, keep unwashed grapes in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until you're ready to clean and consume them for a sweet-sour treat.

How to Wash Grapes

How to wash grapes

Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Washing grapes isn't complicated, but there are certain steps you should follow to ensure your grapes are as clean as possible.

  1. With clean hands, empty the grapes from their container into an appropriately sized colander.
  2. Turn on your faucet, letting cool water stream over the grapes. Using your hands, move the grapes around so that every side gets cleaned.
  3. If you've decided to remove the bloom, sprinkle a little baking soda and/or salt over the grapes in the colander and gently scrub them with your hands. This light exfoliation will remove the bloom and make the grapes sparkle. (Note: Do not use detergent or soap for this step, as it's not safe for consumption.)
  4. Rinse off the baking soda and/or salt with cool water.
  5. After a thorough rinse, dry the grapes in the colander with a clean dish towel or paper towel. Now you're ready for a snack!

How to Store Grapes After Washing

While you should avoid washing grapes until you're ready to eat them, we have a few tips for storage if you've gone ahead and washed them anyway. First, let them dry as completely as possible after they've been washed. This is because excess moisture can lead to faster spoiling. Once dry, store grapes in a ventilated bag in a cold spot of the refrigerator. The air flow and chill will help preserve the fruit for about three weeks.

Washing and Storing Grapes FAQs

Should grapes be washed before refrigerating?

It's best not to wash grapes until right before eating—washing the grapes ahead of time may mean you end up with moldy or inedible grapes if they're sitting in the fridge for too long.

What is the problem with eating unwashed grapes?

Unwashed produce may not look dirty, but viruses and bacteria—including salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria—could be on the surface, according to the CDC. Those germs could cause a nasty foodborne illness if you eat them. (So it's best to follow our washing tips for grapes!)

What's the white film you see on grapes—and is it okay to eat?

The whitish film you often see on grapes isn't from pesticides; it's called "bloom," a waxy coating produced by the plant itself to protect the fruit. While the bloom is safe to eat, it can taste bitter and chalky, so we suggest thoroughly washing your grapes to remove it.

Can you freeze grapes?

Frozen grapes make a delicious (and healthy) frozen treat in the summer. But don't freeze grapes expecting to thaw them later for a snack. They'll get mushy during the freeze-thaw cycle, so they're best eaten straight out of the freezer, or blended into healthy smoothies or other recipes.

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  1. CDC, Fruit and Vegetables Safety. Accessed March 22, 2023.

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