EWG’s 2017 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Lists

Nutrition / March 16, 2017

Two open hands holding fresh strawberries

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has finally released its Annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce for 2017.

This guide lists The Dirty Dozen – the fruits and veggies that have the most pesticides, and The Clean Fifteen – the ones which have the fewest.

These lists make it easier for you to decide what foods are worth spending extra for when it comes to organic produce. We recommend buying organic produce whenever you can, but depending on the time of year or where you live it’s not always possible.

That’s why these lists can come in handy….

The Dirty Dozen

The following dozen fruits and veggies have been tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and showed the highest concentration of pesticides.

This list is also more extensive, which you can see on the EWG website. This year, the extended list included cucumbers (#13) and kale (at #19).  

2017 Dirty Dozen List Infographic

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The Clean Fifteen

The following fifteen fruits and veggies were tested for the least amount of pesticide residues and showed the lowest concentration of pesticides.

Just like The Dirty Dozen list, there is an extended Clean Fifteen list.  This year, the extended list included lettuce (#16) and hot peppers (#18)  for fruits and veggies with the lowest concentration of pesticides.

Clean Fifteen List Infographic

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Want these lists for yourself?

Download the PDF here, print and take it grocery shopping!

So now that you have your lists at the ready – what do you do with your fruits and veggies after purchasing? You wash them. Properly, we hope….

How to Wash Your Fruits and Veggies

When buying produce, it’s important to wash them whether they’re organic or not.

While The Clean Fifteen boasts less pesticide residue than The Dirty Dozen list, you still need to wash your produce to ensure you are consuming the least amount possible.

But do you know how to properly do so?

Do Not:

  • Wash fruits and veggies with soap or detergent


  1. Wash your hands ahead of preparing fruit and veggies.
  2. Place fruits and veggies in your sink and fill with cold, distilled water for 2-3 minutes.
  3. For fruits and veggies with more ridges and angles (like broccoli and cauliflower) let them soak a few minutes longer.
  4. For produce with thick skin, use a use a gentle vegetable brush to help wash away additional pesticides and microbes.
  5. Drain your sink and dry your fruits and veggies!

You may be thinking that commercial produce washes are missing from our ‘do’ list. But studies have shown that cold, distilled tap water is just as, if not more effective than costly veggie rinses.

Researchers at The University of Maine tested three commercial wash treatments:

  • J0-4 Multi-Functional Food Sterilizer
  • Fit®
  • Ozone Water Purifier XT-301

All three of the above products were tested according to package directions and the researchers used low-bush blueberries as the produce.

In addition to the three commercial washes, a water wash was also tested. The blueberries were put in distilled water for one to two minutes.

Here were the head to head results:

  • Fit® wash was able to get rid of the same amount of microbes as distilled water. Both reduced the level of pesticide residue compared to unwashed samples.
  • The J0-4 Multi-Functional Food Sterilizer and The Ozone Water Purifier XT-301 removed microbes from the blueberries. But, the distilled water was more effective than both of the ozone washes.

Simple water for the win!

Why distilled water? Distilled water has been purified and filtered to remove contaminants. If you don’t have distilled water available to you, you can also use very clean, cold tap water instead.

So get buying – and start washing :).

Did you enjoy this post? Let us know in the comments below!

Barb Stefl
Barb Stefl

A small 2017 “dirty/clean” list on 1 page or less (no pictures) would be appreciated, as it could easily be posted on a kitchen cupboard inside door. Thanks


Thanks for the feedback, Barb!

Much appreciated,

– Monica @ AlgaeCal

nathan fama
nathan fama

good info……thanks!

I scrubbed apples in soapy water, but will do the distilled water for all from now on. Makes sense since distilled water is known to absorb/assimilate toxins and good for many purposes.


Hi Nathan,
Thanks for taking the time to comment! Yeah, I used to use a bit of vinegar (cut with water) but found it still left a bit of a taste, which I didn’t love.
– Monica @ AlgaeCal


You’re recommending distilled water, what about reverse osmosis (RO) water?

Would also appreciate a downloadable list option.


Can you send out a one page list without pictures for easy posting on refrig or tucking in wallet?


On their product’s package, Arm & Hammer suggests to use their baking soda as a cleaner for fruits & vegetables, either by manually washing or by soaking. It claims it removes debris & wax. Is this a safe solution? Afterall, baking soda is ingestible.


Hi Wanda,
I’ve heard of using baking soda to wash fruits and veggies, although I haven’t done it myself. If it’s recommended as a use of Arm & Hammer, then it should be safe.
– Monica

Joyce Schulte
Joyce Schulte

I use your materials for my Health Psychology class at college.

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