The Clean 15 — The 15 Fruits and Vegetables that Have the Lowest Pesticide Content (If You’re On a Tight Budget, Don’t Buy These Organically)

Welcome! If you're new here, you may want to learn what Saving Naturally is all about.

Join 3,000 others and stay up-to-date on the latest posts and deals by subscribing for free by RSS feed or email!

There’s a great discussion going on over at Money Saving Mom about how to buy organically without spending a fortune. I chimed in right away (after all, it is one of my favorite topics!) and have been glued to the comment section for new thoughts and ideas. One commenter, Jaycee, posted an interesting list she found here of the Clean 15 — the 15 fruits and veggies that typically have the lowest pesticide content. If you’re on a budget and can’t buy all organic, these would be the items you would not buy organic on.

The Clean 15 (the 15 fruits and veggies that typically rank the lowest in pesticides content)

  • 1. Onion
    2. Avocado
    3. Sweet Corn
    4. Pineapple
    5. Mango
    6. Asparagus
    7. Sweet Peas
    8. Kiwi
    9. Cabbage
    10. Eggplant
    11. Papaya
    12. Watermelon
  • 13. Broccoli
  • 14. Tomato
  • 15. Sweet Potato

I have long had the rule of thumb in my mind that a thicker skin is the determining factor — i.e. if a fruit or veggie has a skin I’m not likely to eat, I can go non-organic. For example, an avocado – which I certainly don’t eat the skin on – is something I can forgo buying organic on if I had to. By the same logic, I try to always buy organic on fruits and vegetables where I will always eat the skin — berries, tomatoes, broccoli, etc. So I’m surprised to see tomatoes on this list.

Are you surprised to see any of these fruits and veggies on this list?

image by ZoraZG


  1. Robyn says:

    Corn! It may be pesticide free, but what about being a GMO!?!?

  2. Kat says:

    Like Robyn, I’m shocked to see corn on the list. I’d never purchase non-organic corn due to the gmo. Also I agree with you, tomatoes I’ve read are VERY heavily pesticided….it’s all so confusing when you just want to do the very best you can. Thanks for the list though!! It’s interesting. I was reading the other day that blueberries that are domestic MUST be organic whereas you can eat the imported ones without stressing….interesting.

  3. I’m definitely surprised to see tomato, as well. I have a similar rule of thumb. I can’t wait to plant my garden… organic bell peppers are soooo expensive!

  4. Katie says:

    For those fruits and veggies that are on the list to avoid, is there really a way to “wash” it off? My kids LOVE apples, and I don’t have a good source to buy organic ones. I have friends who soak everything in vinegar water to “wash off” pesticides, but I question if that really does much.

    • Penni says:

      If you want to give your apples a little scrub, sprinkle with banking soda and a little water and rub it a bit with your palm, rinse and dry. If I bake potatoes with the skin on, I always scrub them first with baking soda and rinse.

      • Sarah says:

        Another way to scrub apples is with a ScotchBrite or other scrubby pad.. we bought local organic apples which had dark-colored fungus all over them (this being NC), and the farmer said you can just scrub it off… it did work. Not sure how this translates to pesticides though.

  5. I have this listed posted on my site because it does save you money when you can buy conventionally grown. I do try to buy all of these items local – but living in CO it is tough over the winter. I also will buy these items organic when the price is close or the same as conventional, which if you know your prices, you’ll find more often then you might think. I do this to sort of “vote” with my dollars in hopes of supporting getting more affordable organics into stores!
    Tomatoes are confusing – at one time on the list – now off. I also hope to solve that problem by growing my own this summer.

  6. Heather says:

    According to Food, Inc., which I read a few months ago, there is no GMO sweet corn out there as yet. So it’s okay to buy non-organic sweet corn. If you are buying non-sweet corn, or products made therefrom–corn meal, tortilla chips, etc, better buy organic.

  7. Debbie in GA says:

    Katie, I soak my veggies/fruit in a sink of water with a good splash of vinegar :)

  8. Granola Girl says:

    The tomatoes are on the list because any that aren’t “perfect” looking can be sold to paste and sauce factories. In this way they aren’t out much of anything on their investment. They could spray them with expensive pesticides or just save the money and sell them anyway.

    My uncle used to be a farmer. He got out of the business of commercial farming when everything started being about appearance. He now just grows for the family and the food banks. However, he spent a few years much happier selling to feed markets, juicers, saucers, and other places that really care about the quality of the food rather than how pretty it was.

  9. Ruth Ann says:

    Thanks for this handy, helpful list! For washing fruits/veggies I use a mixture of fresh squeezed lemon and vinegar and keep in a pump jar so it’s easy to use.

    Am so thankful for finding your blog! Will be signing up for e-mails. :) And will share this link with our group, Nurturing Naturally. Would love to have you check us out as well! (

    Ruth Ann Bowen
    Cofounder, Nurturing Naturally

  10. JenZ says:

    I know onion has been on this list for a while, but I don’t feel comfortable buying conventional with foods that grow right in the dirt. I guess they are on the list because tests have shown no/minimal pesticide residue, and all plants get nutrients and other things (good and bad) from the ground in which they are grown, but I just have a bigger problem with onion than with some other things, so I usually go ahead and buy organic onions (and sweet potatoes, which I just noticed are on the list too). I do usually buy conventional broccoli and cabbage as well as tropical fruits. Interesting to see tomatoes here – haven’t they been on the opposite list in recent years?

  11. Wayne says:

    The alternative is an appliance that does it for you. Our family recently bought a ultrasonic and ozone fruit & veggie washer and we have really liked using it. We bring home the groceries and put the fruit in it, so even takes like the wax off the apples. We bought it online at website. One of our kids has celiac disease and that’s what first took us to that website and then we saw the veggie washer on it too.

  12. LovesSolis says:

    You can’t eradicate pesticides/insecticides/herbicides from your produce … that only cleans the surface, not the amount absorbed into the plant through the water and soil. As for “organic” crops … yeah…well, I haven’t met a crop field in the US yet that is going to test chemical-free. I live in the only 4-season harvest area in the world … and chemicals are used in abundance to reduce pest & disease, so even if you attempt “organic” growing, you’re still growing in soil that has at some point in the past been treated chemically. DDT alone has a 100 year shelf life … so it may have weakened by now, but the residue is still in the soil. Over-spray drift from non-organic farming happen is common as well. The best you can hope for is that buying organic reduces the amount of chemicals in your food.


  1. [...] up on yesterday’s list, The Clean 15, the 15 fruits and veggies that typically have the lowest pesticide content (and thus should be the [...]

  2. [...] The Clean Fifteen and The Dirty Dozen: Knowing These Will Change Will Your Life! [...]

  3. [...] The Clean Fifteen and The Dirty Dozen over at Saving Naturally. [...]

  4. [...] The Clean Fifteen and The Dirty Dozen: Knowing These Will Change Will Your Life! [...]

  5. [...] Is this Egg Organic? A Blind Taste Test (Video) [...]

  6. [...] The Clean Fifteen and The Dirty Dozen: Knowing These Will Change Will Your Life! [...]

Speak Your Mind

 Subscribe to Saving Naturally for FREE Daily Deals and Tips