Should cherries be washed before refrigerating?

Quick Answer

Most experts recommend rinsing cherries gently under cool running water before storing them in the refrigerator. Washing helps remove any dirt, pesticides or other contaminants that may be on the surface of the cherries. However, take care not to soak the cherries or wash them vigorously as this can cause them to absorb excess water, resulting in a loss of flavor and texture. After washing, be sure to pat the cherries dry with a paper towel before refrigerating in an airtight container. Refrigerating cherries helps preserve freshness and extend their shelf life.

Why Wash Cherries Before Refrigerating?

Removes Dirt and Pesticides

Cherries, like most fruits and vegetables, are exposed to dirt, chemicals and pesticides during growth, harvest and transport. Gently rinsing cherries under running water helps remove some of these potential contaminants from the surface. While the skin protects the cherry flesh to some degree, washing is still recommended as an extra precautionary step before eating.

Reduces Microbes and Bacteria

Washing cherries helps reduce the number of microbes and bacteria that may be present on the surface. Fresh produce can harbor harmful pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria, which can lead to foodborne illness. While the risk is low, properly washing produce like cherries helps mitigate it further.

Removes Natural Waxes

Many fruits like cherries have a light, natural waxy coating on the skin to help protect them. However, some people find this coating makes the cherries feel unsanitary or seem less fresh. Gently washing cherries helps remove some of the natural waxes.

How to Properly Wash Cherries Before Refrigerating

What You Need:

  • Fresh cherries
  • Clean bowl of cool water
  • Clean paper towels


  1. Rinse cherries under cool running water in a colander, gently rubbing each cherry between your fingers to help dislodge dirt and pesticides.
  2. Fill a bowl with cool, clean water. Submerge cherries and let soak for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Drain cherries from the bowl and pat dry with clean paper towels.
  4. Refrigerate cherries in an airtight container. They will keep for up to 10 days.


  • Avoid soaking cherries too long, as they can absorb water and become mushy.
  • Be gentle when rubbing and handling cherries to avoid bruising them.
  • Use clean utensils and containers to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Discard any cherries that are moldy or damaged.

Should You Wash Cherries Before Eating Them Fresh?

Washing cherries before eating them fresh is also recommended. The same dirt, chemicals and microbes that accumulate during growth and transport can be harmful if consumed. A quick rinse under cool water right before enjoying cherries fresh can offer peace of mind that any surfaced contaminants are removed.

However, take note that washing only removes dirt and microbes from the surface of the cherry skin. Bacteria and chemicals can still be present in the flesh and pit itself. As such, properly washing hands, utensils and surfaces is important for food prep safety as well.

Do You Need to Dry Cherries Before Refrigerating?

Yes, it’s important to pat washed cherries dry with clean paper towels before refrigerating them. Leaving cherries wet or damp can lead to quick spoilage and growth of mold or bacteria in the refrigerator.

Excess moisture can also cause cherries to become soggy and lose their texture over time. Drying cherries thoroughly before storage prevents excess water from being locked in with the fruit inside the refrigerator.

How to Store Washed Cherries in the Refrigerator

Storage Containers

The best way to refrigerate washed cherries is in an airtight container, such as:

  • Plastic food storage container with tight fitting lid
  • Glass jar with airtight lid
  • Resealable plastic bags

This prevents moisture loss and keeps the washed cherries fresher for longer compared to storing in porous containers or loose in the refrigerator.


Store refrigerated cherries towards the back of the top shelf, where temperatures are cooler. Avoid storing cherries in the refrigerator door, where temperatures fluctuate more.


Properly stored in an airtight container, washed cherries will typically last 5-10 days in the refrigerator. Check frequently for signs of spoilage like mold growth and discard cherries if they start to become mushy or smell odd.

Signs Your Refrigerated Cherries Have Gone Bad

Look out for these signs that refrigerated cherries have spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Mold growth – white or green fuzzy mold on the surface
  • Shriveling/drying out – wrinkled, deflated appearance
  • Soft texture – mushy or waterlogged flesh
  • Brown/black pits – discoloration and drying of the pits
  • Off odors – sour, unpleasant smell
  • Excess bruising/leaks – smashed, leaking flesh

Trust your senses – if refrigerated cherries look, smell or taste off, err on the side of caution and throw them away. Moldy, damaged and rotten cherries can make you sick if consumed.

Can You Refrigerate Cherries Without Washing?

It’s not recommended to refrigerate fresh cherries without washing them first. As covered earlier, unwashed cherries may have contaminants like dirt, chemicals and microbes on the surface and skin. Refrigerating cherries “as is” traps these contaminants in with the fruit and can allow bacteria to proliferate in the cold, moist environment.

For food safety, always make sure to at least gently rinse fresh cherries under cool water and pat dry before refrigerating. This quick wash helps protect you from harmful bacteria that could be present.

Do Other Fruits Need Washing Before Refrigerating?

Cherries aren’t the only fresh produce that benefits from gentle washing prior to refrigeration. Other fruits and vegetables you may want to wash before refrigerating include:

  • Berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries etc.
  • Stone fruits – peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Citrus fruits – oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes
  • Melons – cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Bell peppers
  • Leafy greens – lettuce, spinach, kale, chard
  • Fresh herbs – parsley, cilantro, dill

Giving these fruits and veggies a quick rinse to remove dirt, chemicals and microbes from the surface helps prolong freshness and prevent contamination in refrigerated storage.

Can You Refrigerate Unwashed Fruits/Vegetables?

It’s generally not recommended. While the cold temperatures of refrigeration slow spoilage caused by microbes and bacteria, unwashed produce may still harbor harmful pathogens and dirt on the surfaces that can cross-contaminate the refrigerator environment.

Certain hardy fruits like oranges, bananas, pineapple and melons may last fairly well unwashed in the refrigerator. However, for most fresh produce like berries, stone fruits, leafy greens and delicate herbs, take a minute to gently wash them before refrigerating to remove surface contaminants and maximize freshness.

Alternative Washing Methods

While cool running water is the standard washing method recommended for most fruits and vegetables, there are some alternatives:

Vinegar Wash

Using a vinegar solution is a popular alternative washing method. The acidic vinegar helps kill bacteria on produce surfaces. Mix a tablespoon of white vinegar per cup of water and soak produce briefly before rinsing.

Hydrogen Peroxide Wash

Some people use a hydrogen peroxide solution as a washing alternative. Like vinegar, hydrogen peroxide can act as a mild disinfectant and may reduce bacteria levels on produce. Mix 1-2 teaspoons of 3% hydrogen peroxide per cup of water. Rinse thoroughly after soaking fruits and vegetables.

Commercial Produce Washes

Premade produce washes are available commercially, often containing some form of sanitizer or disinfectant. However, cool water is still effective for basic washing needs. Talk to your pediatrician before using commercial washes on produce for babies.

Baking Soda Wash

Making a solution with baking soda can help remove some pesticides from produce. Mix about 1 teaspoon of baking soda per cup of water and soak fruits and vegetables briefly before rinsing. Be aware this may also remove some natural protective coatings.

Can You Eat Cherries Without Washing?

It’s not recommended to eat fresh cherries without washing them first. As covered earlier, fresh cherries may harbor potentially harmful contaminants like pesticides, dirt, and microbes if they are not washed prior to eating.

While the cherry skin offers some protection, consuming unwashed cherries could still expose you to bacteria, chemicals, and other substances that washing helps mitigate. This is especially important for at-risk groups like pregnant women, young children, elderly and immunocompromised individuals.

For optimal safety and quality, make it a habit to gently wash all fresh produce under cool running water before eating – including cherries. The minimal time required to wash cherries is worth it to help protect yourself from foodborne illness.


Washing fresh cherries gently under cool running water before refrigerating them is highly recommended by food safety experts. A quick rinse helps remove any dirt, pesticides and microbes from the surface of cherries, improving safety and prolonging shelf life. Be sure to pat washed cherries dry with clean paper towels before storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Refrigeration keeps cherries fresher for 5-10 days. Check frequently for signs of spoilage like mold and soft texture. For optimal quality and food safety, take a minute to wash produce like cherries before refrigerating or eating them.

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