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What do you soak carrots in to clean them?

Carrots are one of the most popular and commonly consumed vegetables. They add color, texture, and nutrients to many dishes. However, carrots grow underground and can collect dirt, debris, and microbes during harvesting and handling. Properly washing carrots helps remove potentially harmful contaminants before eating. While simply rinsing under running water can help, soaking carrots prior to eating provides added safety and cleanliness.

Why Soak Carrots?

Soaking carrots serves several purposes:

  • Loosens and lifts dirt, debris, and microbes from the surface of carrots
  • Allows thorough rinsing to wash away contaminants
  • Saturates and softens fibrous carrot skin for easier peeling
  • Brightens color as pigments leach into water

Peeling also removes dirt and bacteria. However, peeling discards nutrition and fiber found in the skin. Preferable to peel only if necessary. Soaking makes peeling easier but keeps more of the carrot intact.

What to Soak Carrots In

Carrots can be soaked in plain water. However, adding certain ingredients to the water enhances cleaning and offers other benefits:


White vinegar is mildly acidic. An acid bath helps kill bacteria, viruses, and molds on the surface of carrots. Vinegar’s antimicrobial properties make it a common ingredient in vegetable sprays and natural cleaning solutions. Recommended concentration is 2 tablespoons vinegar per 1 cup water.


Salt helps scrub and detach grime from skin. Can use plain table salt or coarse kosher salt. Use 1 teaspoon up to 1 tablespoon salt per cup of water.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is alkaline and helps lift acid-loving microbes. Also acts as a gentle abrasive to scour carrot surfaces when agitated. Add 1 teaspoon baking soda per cup of water.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is another mild disinfectant. Dilute to no more than 1 tablespoon per 1 cup water. Higher concentrations can bleach carrots.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice also provides an acid bath. Mix 2-3 tablespoons juice per cup of water.

Produce Wash

Commercial produce washes are available with mixes of cleaning ingredients. Follow label instructions.

Step-By-Step Carrot Soaking Process

Follow these steps for soaking carrots:

  1. Clean and sanitize sink, bowl or container for soaking. Wash hands thoroughly.
  2. Trim green tops from carrots. Rinse under water to remove loose dirt. Scrub with produce brush if needed.
  3. Fill bowl or container with cool water. Add desired soaking ingredient(s) and mix well. Use amounts recommended above.
  4. Submerge carrots in solution. Place bowl in refrigerator during lengthy soaks. Soak 5-10 minutes for thin carrots, up to 30 minutes for thick carrots.
  5. Remove carrots from water. Rinse thoroughly under clean running water. Rub gently with fingers to remove any remaining dirt or debris.
  6. Dry carrots with clean towel or allow to air dry. Refrigerate in clean covered container.

Soaking Times for Carrots

Recommended carrot soaking times:

Carrot Type Soak Time
Baby-cut carrots 5-10 minutes
Small carrots 10-15 minutes
Medium carrots 15-20 minutes
Large carrots 20-30 minutes

Adjust times as needed based on carrot size and thickness. Avoid oversoaking, which can lead to mushy carrots.

Other Tips for Soaking Carrots

  • Swirl and agitate carrots in water occasionally to better clean all surfaces
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap or lid to help submerge floating carrots
  • Pour off soaking water and refill with fresh solution halfway through long soaks
  • Rinse soaked carrots under stream of water while gently rubbing with fingers
  • Pat dry with paper towels or spin in salad spinner to remove excess moisture
  • Soaking makes carrots waterlogged – bake, roast, or stir-fry after soaking to revive texture

Safety Tips

  • Use clean, cool water for soaking
  • Wash hands, containers, tools thoroughly before and after
  • Don’t soak too long – follow recommended times
  • Rinse carrots thoroughly after soaking
  • Refrigerate soaked carrots; use within 5 days

Reasons to Soak Other Produce

While soaking is especially useful for firm, thick vegetables like carrots and potatoes, it can also enhance cleaning for other fruits and vegetables:

Produce Benefits from Soaking
  • Remove dirt from florets and stems
  • Loosen bugs and debris
  • Clean florets and inner stems
  • Whiten color
  • Clean ridges and ends
  • Refresh crispness
  • Remove gritty dirt
  • Freshen up leaves
  • Wash dirt from skin
  • Protect flesh from browning
  • Dislodge debris and chemicals
  • Clean wax coating

Adjust soaking time for more delicate produce that absorbs water quickly. Soaking is an easy way to clean and revive all sorts of fruits and vegetables!


Soaking carrots before eating or cooking is an effective cleaning method that also softens skins for peeling. The best soaking solutions for carrots include vinegar, salt, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and lemon juice. Soak 5-30 minutes based on carrot size, agitate occasionally, rinse thoroughly, and refrigerate after. Soaking helps clean many other firm or dirty fruits and vegetables too. With the right technique, a good soak can take carrots and produce from field to table while maximizing nutrition and safety.