Why You Should Never Wash Iceberg Lettuce Ahead Of Time

Ask around about iceberg lettuce, and you'll get different responses from everyone. Some will say it doesn't really have any nutritional value or claim it has no flavor. On the other end of the spectrum, other people say that you should be buying iceberg lettuce and using it every chance you get. However you personally feel about iceberg lettuce, one thing remains a constant — like other types of lettuce, iceberg lettuce needs to be washed before you eat it. Yes, even pre-washed lettuce still needs to be washed again at home to get rid of dirt and bacteria.

That being said, you don't want to wash your lettuce ahead of time, even if it makes the most sense to do so when you first get home from the grocery store. In fact, washing your produce before storing it in the fridge or on the counter just makes it more vulnerable to bacterial growth. Not only are the innumerable folds of iceberg lettuce the perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria, but the leaves are also sensitive to moisture. Washing the lettuce before leaving it to sit in a puddle of water in the fridge damages its cell walls and ruins its integrity. And who likes wilted lettuce? No one.

Iceberg lettuce should stay in its original packaging

Although many people believe washing fruits and veggies should be done right away, this couldn't be further from the truth. Instead of washing your iceberg lettuce immediately, just leave it in its original packaging and put it in the fridge's crisper drawer, then keep it there until you're ready to eat it. Only then should you remove the packaging and go about washing your lettuce by gently rinsing it in cool water and drying it with a paper towel. Unwashed iceberg lettuce should be able to last up to 10 days in the fridge if properly sealed, so we highly recommend this method.

If you absolutely have to wash your lettuce, such as in cases where you purchased loose-leaf lettuce or a package where some leaves are visibly damaged, store the remaining leaves with a paper towel. The towels can soak up extra moisture and keep your lettuce from getting too soggy, but don't expect this method to work as well as if you had stored your lettuce while it was still unwashed and unopened.