The Ultimate Guide to Ultrasonic Fruit and Vegetable Cleaners

The Ultimate Guide to Ultrasonic Fruit and Vegetable Cleaners

by Amanda P.

In today's world, chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) hazards are often perceived as distant and abstract, typically associated with war zones and international conflicts. But in reality, the battle against chemical warfare begins right at home in the kitchen. 

Unfortunately, due to modern agricultural practices, pesticide spray residue is a common ingredient on virtually everything we eat (even if you eat organic). Research has shown that over 90% of the U.S. population has a detectable amount of these toxic chemicals in their body. Just as we arm ourselves against CBRN threats, it's essential to take proactive steps to mitigate the impact of toxins in our food. 

There are lots of different fruit and veggie purifiers on the market, but many of them are either ineffective or use different chemicals that wind up on the food instead. One of the only truly healthy, effective, and eco-friendly ways to purify what you eat is with an ultrasonic cleaner.

Table of Contents

  • 01

    What is an Ultrasonic Fruit and Vegetable Cleaner?

  • 02

    Benefits of Using Ultrasonic Cleaners for Fruits and Vegetables

  • 03

    How to Use an Ultrasonic Fruit and Vegetable Cleaner

  • 04

    Common Concerns and Side Effects

  • 05

    Comparing Ultrasonic Cleaners with Other Cleaning Methods

  • 06

    Choosing the Right Ultrasonic Cleaner for Your Needs

  • 07

    The Top Ultrasonic Vegetable Cleaner on the Market

  • 08

    The Bottom Line

 

ultrasonic fruit grapes cleaners
Source: Unsplash

What is an Ultrasonic Fruit and Vegetable Cleaner?

Ultrasonic cleaners use high-frequency sound waves to create microscopic bubbles in water. These bubbles, known as cavitation bubbles, implode upon contact with surfaces. This produces a scrubbing effect that physically dislodges contaminants without the use of any harsh chemicals. Ultrasonic cleaners have been shown to be even more effective than traditional cleaning methods, and they're perfectly safe to use. 

Ultrasonic Fruit and Vegetable Cleaners
Source: Pickpik

Understanding Ultrasonic Technology

When an ultrasonic cleaner generates sound waves at a high frequency, these sound waves agitate the water around it and cause its molecules to "cavitate." Cavitation is a scientific phenomenon that occurs when the pressure of a liquid is caused to fluctuate very rapidly. The oscillating pressure forms microscopic voids or bubbles of energy that instantly implode and cause tiny, powerful shockwaves.

ultrasonic cleaning principle
Source: IQS Directory

 

 As the ultrasonic cleaner continues to generate sound waves, it causes millions of these tiny cavitation bubbles to implode on the surfaces of the produce submerged in the water. The shockwaves generated by these implosions are powerful enough to cause any contaminants to shake loose and disintegrate, effectively "scrubbing" the produce clean.

Source: MDPI


Unlike sponges and other traditional cleaning tools, cavitation bubbles are capable of scrubbing inside every single tiny nook and cranny on the surface of a submerged object. As a result, food that has undergone ultrasonic cleaning is much cleaner than food that was cleaned with a vegetable brush or scrubbed by hand.

Types of Ultrasonic Cleaners

There are two main categories of ultrasonic purifiers used for cleaning veggies and fruits. Countertop cleaners are self-contained, with a built-in reservoir that holds water and the food items you put in. Portable ones are smaller and work by placing the device into a separate bowl of water with your fruits and veggies.

As you're shopping for the perfect produce washing machine, consider your own needs and how different washers can meet them:

  • Size: A countertop cleaner is a larger appliance, so if you have a smaller kitchen or very little storage, you may want to consider a portable cleaner instead.

  • Capacity: Portable cleaners can be used in the sink or in any sized bowl or dish, while countertop cleaners have a built-in reservoir with a specific volume capacity.

  • Durability: Look for a cleaner that's built to last for a few years or more, and ensure it comes with a warranty so any potential defects are covered.
Source: Pexels

Benefits of Using Ultrasonic Cleaners for Fruits and Vegetables

Superior Cleaning Efficiency

Ultrasonic fruit cleaners eliminate germs, bacteria, and contaminants more effectively than traditional methods. Studies have shown significant reductions in insecticides like dichlorvos and dimethoate in items after ultrasonic treatment.

One study at the Hamadan University of Medical Sciences found that ultrasonic power cleaning eradicated 88.9% of the insecticide from the surface of a tomato. By comparison, 15 minutes of washing with tap water eliminated just 30.7% of the contaminants, and just 70.7% of contaminants were eliminated when washed with water and detergent (which isn’t always advised).

Eco-Friendly Cleaning

Not only do ultrasonic cleaners require no chemicals, but they also consume less water and energy than conventional cleaning methods. Designed to last for multiple years of daily usage, ultrasonic cleaners eliminate the plastic waste produced through the use of disposable soap and detergent containers.

Preservation of Nutritional Value

Ultrasonic cleaning is the best way to sanitize your produce without sacrificing nutritional value or food quality. While cavitation bubbles are powerful enough to disintegrate residue, they're gentle on surfaces and have no impact on the integrity of the food itself. 

Although many produce treatments are advertised as safe and non-toxic, the Food and Drug Administration recommends against the use of commercial fruit and veggie wash solutions. 

These products are not tested or evaluated by the FDA, so their safety and effectiveness is not guaranteed. And, while homemade solutions like vinegar and baking soda may be less harmful, they can affect the taste of vegetables and fruits, like cantaloupes and strawberries.

 

Source: Pexels

How to Use an Ultrasonic Fruit and Vegetable Cleaner

  1. Place your fruits and vegetables in a large bowl. You can cleanse all of your food at the same time—no need to separate by type.

  2. Fill the container with water until all of your items are completely submerged. If possible, use a strainer or wire rack to hold the produce suspended above the bottom of the bowl, so that the cavitation bubbles have access to all of their surfaces.

  3. If using a portable machine, place it in the center of the bowl. Check the user manual to determine whether your cleaner is completely submersible, and only submerge it to the maximum water line.

  4. Turn on the cleaner and let it run for the recommended amount of time—typically between 10 and 15 minutes.

  5. Withdraw the cleaner and drain the water from the bowl. Rinse your produce with clean water and dry thoroughly.

Common Concerns and Side Effects

Are Ultrasonic Cleaners Safe?

Ultrasonic cleaners are perfectly safe for use on produce, eggs, seafood, meat, tableware, and more. They're even safe to use on things like baby bottles, dentures, and jewelry. The cleaning mechanism is an ultrasonic sound wave that "scrubs" the surface of the items without any added chemicals or detergents, and the cavitation bubbles that perform the scrubbing are gentle and do not impact the integrity of the item's surface.

Myths and Misconceptions

  • Ultrasonic cleaners aren't actually effective. The efficacy of ultrasonic cleaners on food has been proven in multiple scientific research settings. However, not all cleaners are manufactured to the same standard, so be sure to choose a model that's been well-evaluated by a reputable authority.

  • Aluminum can't go in an ultrasonic cleaner. Ultrasonic cleaners are effective on other objects besides food, like kitchen utensils, tableware, and jewelry. It is perfectly safe to put aluminum in an ultrasonic cleaner.

  • Items should be "pre-cleaned" before being used with an ultrasonic cleaner. While wiping down particularly dusty produce can help prevent your cleaner from becoming dirty over time, there's no need to pre-wash fruits and vegetables before cleaning them with an ultrasonic cleaner.

  • Ultrasonic cleaners can only clean certain things. You may be most familiar with seeing ultrasonic cleaners used by professional jewelry cleaners or exclusively on produce. In reality, ultrasonic cleaners are safe and effective for use on a wide variety of things, like meat and seafood, eggs, grains, kitchenware, jars and containers, baby toys, and more.

Source: Pexels

Comparing Ultrasonic Cleaners with Other Cleaning Methods

Traditional Methods vs. Ultrasonic Cleaning

Studies have shown that ultrasonic cleaning is the safest method of cleaning produce without impacting the physical quality of the food. 

A study published in the the Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Assessment measured the effectiveness of four cleaning methods—washing with tap water (A), washing with ozone water (B), ultrasonic cleaning (C), and boiling (D)—in the removal of 16 different pesticides from raw strawberries.

 

Source: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

 

After five minutes of washing, ultrasonic cleaning was the most effective cleaning method in removing nearly every type of contaminant. (While boiling achieved similarly effective results in removing some of the contaminants, it effectively cooks the strawberries and therefore can't be considered a legitimate method of cleaning "fresh" produce.) Washing with tap water and with ozone water were less effective than ultrasonic cleaning in removing all but one pesticide (fenhexamid).

Traditional methods like vegetable brushes can strip a decent amount of dirt and debris from your produce, but cavitation bubbles are far more powerful when it comes to tackling tougher residue like the wax preservative on an apple or the tiny crevices on a potato. Standard cleaning agents and soaks may be able to permeate smaller areas, but are unreliable and introduce unnecessary substances and chemicals to your food.


Choosing the Right Ultrasonic Cleaner for Your Needs

When choosing your ultrasonic cleaner, consider a few key factors and how they align with your personal culinary needs.

  • Size and capacity: Are you single, married, or do you cook for a large family? Depending on how much food you typically cook, a tabletop cleaner with a limited capacity may not be the best fit. Look for a portable machine that can be used in a bowl of your choice.

  • Power and frequency settings: Most cleaners will say exactly what voltage and frequency they use to clean your produce. Look for at least 5V and 40 Hz for effective cleansing.

  • Timer and auto-shutoff: If you're the type to multitask while you clean, look for a machine that has a timer or shuts off automatically, which will conserve energy and extend battery life by preventing the machine from continuing to run longer than necessary.

The Top Ultrasonic Vegetable Cleaner on the Market

The DTX-1 Food Detoxifier from MIRA Safety is a portable food cleaner is small and compact, but it packs a powerful punch: it's lab-certified to reduce pesticide residue by 97.6% and hard metals by 99.9%. 

Its touch panel makes it easy to operate, and it can purify food in up to 3 liters of water at one time. After it charges using a standard USB Type C charger, its powerful battery will last up to six weeks in standby mode or 20 full processing cycles. 

Customer reviews say the DTX-1 does "a great job removing any contaminants" and "gives me peace of mind that [fruits and vegetables] are thoroughly cleansed." And its benefits go beyond cleaning, too: users say the DTX-1 is a "huge time saver versus washing by hand." 

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I use the ultrasonic cleaner?
Can ultrasonic cleaners be used for other items besides produce?
What maintenance is required for ultrasonic cleaners?

The Bottom Line

Making sure that you wash your produce regularly should be a regular practice. While most people just wash their produce, we recommend using a reliable cleaner to ensure all contaminants are removed before you consume anything. After all, you should never compromise on your and your family’s health!

    Ultimately, ultrasonic cleaners are the most effective and reliable method for cleaning fruits, vegetables, and a broad variety of other foods and utensils. With its chemical-free cleaning mechanism, ultrasonic technology is safe, sustainable, and eco-friendly. Any health- and safety-conscious cook should have an ultrasonic cleaner in their kitchen.