How to Clean Potatoes Before You Cook With Them

Scrub those spuds, and get ready to cook.

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The humble potato is one of the most versatile ingredients out there, and goes well with pretty much everything. Baked, mashed, roasted, or something else entirely, potatoes take endless forms and taste delicious every which way. However, before you cook with potatoes it’s important to give them a good scrub. Follow our simple advice for how to clean potatoes before you cook with them, and you’ll be good to go!

How to Clean Potatoes

Start by choosing good potatoes that feel firm to the touch and don’t have a musty order or abundant discoloration and blemishes. It doesn’t take long to clean potatoes; you just need cold water and a vegetable brush. If you want the potato skins to crisp up, make sure to pat them dry with a towel before cooking them.

  1. Soak potatoes in cold water to loosen the dirt. A 15- to 30-minute soak should do the trick.
  2. Lift the potatoes out of the water, and scrub them with a vegetable brush under cold running water to remove the dirt.
  3. If peeling, proceed by removing the potato skins with a vegetable peeler. You can also take this moment to chop the potatoes into your desired shapes. (Keep in mind that the cut surfaces of peeled or chopped potatoes are prone to oxidation, so it’s best to keep them in cold water until you’re ready to cook them.)
  4. Bake, roast, or mash away!

Do You Need to Wash Potatoes?

In short, yes, it’s very important to wash potatoes before cooking with them. Potatoes are on the list of the most pesticide-ridden produce, otherwise known as the “Dirty Dozen,” so it’s especially crucial to get rid of any harmful residue. Furthermore, potatoes are root vegetables, which means that they’re grown underground, so it’s likely that they’ll be dirty when you buy them. For these reasons, it’s important to clean potatoes, even if you plan on peeling them. 

And once you wash your spuds, it's best to start cooking with them as opposed to storing them somewhere else. This is because potatoes that have been washed can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, which can make you sick. Additionally, when it comes to addressing any "eyes" on your potatoes—those small bumps that may include sprouts—we suggest leaving any that are the size of a pinprick, but removing anything larger, as they can be unsafe to consume. The best way to remove a potato sprout is to cut off as much of it as you can before you begin the cooking process.

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