Are Pre-Washed Lettuce & Greens Truly Safe To Eat?

Should you wash pre-washed lettuce and greens? - package of pre-washed mixed greens; mixed greens on a plate

Even if you’re not a stickler for food safety, I would guess most of us at least wash fresh fruits and vegetables before cutting into them. I used to assume that was a good practice for most foods, but after writing about the hazards of rinsing raw chicken recently, I figured I should do some more research into similar topics, starting with pre-washed lettuce and greens.

We all want to ensure our food is clean and healthy, so you may wonder whether pre-washed lettuce and triple-washed greens are truly safe to eat just as they are. So I dusted off my reporter hat to get to the bottom of things, and my investigation turned up some important answers that I’ll be sharing with you in this post.

Should you wash pre-washed lettuce and greens? - bag of salad, finger pointed to

Should I Wash Pre-Washed Lettuce?

In short: no!

According to the CDC, pre-washed lettuce and greens are safe to consume right out of the package. Not only is the process of commercial pre-washing quite safe, but the facilities themselves are held to strict standards of cleanliness and sanitization. (Apparently, it’s easy to contaminate pre-washed greens by attempting to wash them at home!)

Pre-washed leafy greens — including lettuce, bagged salad, spring mix, kale, and other greens — are indicated as such somewhere on the packaging. If the package includes one of these descriptors, you can safely assume it doesn’t need to be washed or rinsed:

  • Ready-to-eat
  • Triple washed
  • No washing necessary
Should you wash pre-washed lettuce and greens? Rinsing a head of romaine under running water

Should I Wash Lettuce That Isn’t Pre-Washed?

In short: yes.

Any leafy greens that have not been pre-washed or aren’t labeled as such should be rinsed under running water before you eat them. There’s no need to use any additional cleaners or detergents (especially not bleach; you should never use bleach to wash produce!)

Rinsing under running water is safer than soaking because the latter can introduce bacteria if your tools and equipment aren’t clean.

4 Essential Food Safety Tips

When preparing food in your own kitchen, following these 4 tips can help prevent foodborne illness:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and warm water before handling food, and rewash them as needed to prevent cross contamination.
  2. Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with soap and hot water after preparing raw meat, poultry, or seafood, and after preparing produce you’re not planning to cook.
  3. If possible, use two separate cutting boards: one for fresh produce, and one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  4. After using plastic and other non-porous cutting boards, wash them in your dishwasher.
Should you wash pre-washed lettuce and greens? Closeup of hands being washed with soap and running water

BONUS: Know The Signs Of Foodborne Illness

The symptoms of foodborne illness can include:

  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and body aches

If you think that you or a family member has a foodborne illness, contact your primary care provider immediately. You can learn more about how to handle and prepare produce safely at

I hope this information is as useful to you as it has been to me. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I’m always pleased when I learn I can do away with any chore, no matter how small — even washing bagged greens!

What’s your favorite way to use pre-washed lettuce or greens?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Food & Recipes

  • Once upon a time, I purchased a bag of prewashed salad, and what did I find in that bag? A bug! Since then I always rinse my pre-washed salads. Still creeps me out. Sorry!

  • I have never washed my triple prewashed Organic Spring salads, And I have never be sick because of it. They are put under a Strict guild lines and you should learn to trust the company who sells it.
    Plus when I buy my organic spring salad I too put a Dry paper towel to prevent molding and wilting. (also, I put it upside down, paper towel down in the fridge to collect the extra moisture that wilts my salad) Works for me and always have.

  • All these suggestions are good and usable. I have some more to suggest and which work well for my husband and me. When I buy pre-shredded cabbage, I double close the top to keep out air. That means that I twist the bag shut and then place a tightly wound twist-tie snug to the produce and another farther up the twisted bag. When we buy spring lettuce in the plastic container, I wet a paper towel and apply it to the inside of the lid. Each time I use it I check to see that the towel is still damp enough to protect the air around the lettuce. Lastly, when I buy a head of iceberg or leaf lettuce, I rinse it and then slice off the dried part of the stem just like when putting flowers in a vase. Then I dampen a paper towel, fold it smaller and apply it to the cut stem before I put the lettuce back in the plastic wrapper or my tupperware lettuce keeper. I never have wilted or spoiled lettuce.

    • Dianna, these all sound like great ideas. I mostly buy those heads of lettuce with the roots still attached, and keep them damp. That was the only way I always had fresh lettuce. But I will definitely try your ideas. Thanks!

  • Thanks, Jillee: I had previously read that we should wash bagged pre-washed greens, and I thought “Are you kidding me?!” So I am happy to hear otherwise!

    I have also read that baking soda and salt should be used to soak greens and similar sturdy vegetables to remove bacteria and pesticides, but I do not do that. I soak in water and then rinse under running water.I purchase mostly organic veggies, though, so am not trying to remove pesticides.

    • I also buy mostly organic veggies. But just because it’s organic doesn’t mean they don’t use pesticides or other products on them. They still do. There are products that are approved for use on organic produce, and they tend to be much more natural than the chemicals found on conventional produce. So you do need to wash pesticides off organics before eating, too.

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