The best part? This cleaning system is free of chemicals, dyes and added fragrances.
force of nature coronavirus
Credit: Force of Nature

No matter where you live, you're probably a little wary of grocery shopping during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Whether you're shopping yourself or having food delivered, you might've read advice to wipe down all of your groceries in order to kill any lingering coronavirus. (Though the FDA notes it's not strictly necessary, as there's been no evidence linking food packaging with COVID-19.)

But what about produce? While there's no current evidence suggesting that coronavirus can be transmitted through produce or other fresh foods, the FDA still does recommends good hygiene practices, like washing your hands before prepping food and washing your produce.

It's not as if you need to use a disinfectant wipe on a bunch of grapes (nor should you)—simply rinsing under some water will do the trick. However, if you'd feel better taking an extra step for precaution, Force of Nature is a safe option to use for washing produce.

I've been using Force of Nature for just this, which is available online. I'm no stranger to cleaning with vinegar, baking soda and even vodka, but Force of Nature is a little bit different. It's a combination of water, salt and vinegar, but it uses electricity to supercharge (or, electrolyze) it into a nontoxic disinfectant and sanitizer.

Here's what else I love about this product:

  • It's nontoxic, so it's safe to use on produce.
  • It disinfects 99.9% of germs, including Staph, MRSA, Norovirus, Influenza A, Salmonella and Listeria.
  • It sanitizes to the degree that the EPA considers it safe for hospitals.
  • It's also on the EPA's list of Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19.

According to Melissa Lush, co-founder of Force of Nature, because SARS-CoV-2 is a new virus, it's not available for testing in a lab. For situations like this, she explains, the EPA has an Emerging Pathogens Policy with a list of products, called List N, that are expected to kill the virus because they demonstrate efficacy against either a) a harder-to-kill virus or b) another type of human coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2. "The reason Force of Nature is on the EPA's List N is because it has been tested on Norovirus, which is a harder-to-kill virus than SARS-CoV-2," Lush adds.

Force of Nature uses the same industrial system that other companies use to make green cleaners; they just managed to pack into something that fits on your counter. To use it, you add a pre-measured capsule of salt and vinegar to water in a small plug-in unit they call an Electrolyzer. This sends an electrical current through the salt-vinegar solution, which changes its chemical composition into sodium hydroxide (the cleaner) and hypochlorous acid (the germ killer). That's it. No added fragrances, dyes or other questionable stuff.

This means it's safe for use around kids and pets, and "you can use Force of Nature to clean your produce," says Lush. "This is actually a common use for electrolyzed water in the industrial space."

To use it on your produce, Lush recommends, "Give the item a spray, let it sit 2 minutes, then give it a quick rinse with water." I've also done this for all manner of fruits and veggies that get eaten raw, and I haven't noticed a lingering taste or scent of either vinegar or salt. What's more, my food critic of a 9-year-old hasn't either.

But don't stop at produce. Lush says she uses the cleaning system in her kitchen a lot. In addition to using it on her hands after chopping garlic, she uses it on surfaces and appliances (inside and out), cutting boards, her sink and garbage disposal, sponges or scrub brushes, in the kitchen trash bin, on the dining table and upholstered chairs, and on wood floors, dog bowls and toys. She also says she uses it on items that shouldn't go into the dishwasher, plus "the dishwasher if it's stinky and it's not time to run a load yet."

Want to buy it for yourself? There are three systems to choose from:

The idea for the product came about serendipitously. Lush learned about the electrolyzing technology from one of her co-founders around the time she learned about hypochlorous acid's antimicrobial uses from a nurse. "I thought it was just the coolest technology that moms like me really needed," she says. With a background in new product development, she adds, "I was so excited to shape it into something that could make life safer and less stressful for parents."

Indeed. Isn't more safety and less stress something we could all use right now? Force of Nature does my family no harm and brings me great peace of mind.