Investigating the Effectiveness of Different Cleaners at Removing Hydrophobic Coatings on Fresh Produce


  • Mary D.
  • Kameron K.
  • Zhina M.
  • Anisha S.


The presence of potentially harmful paraffin wax coatings on fresh produce is a source of
growing concern in regards to exposure to allergens or carcinogens (Galus et al. 19; Kumar 33).
Due to the health risks associated with edible wax coatings, it is important to thoroughly wash
store-bought produce with suitable cleaners. The objective of this study was to investigate the
effectiveness of four cleaners (tap water, dish soap, hand soap and white vinegar) at removing
hydrophobic coatings (Vaseline) on mini cucumbers when viewed under a blacklight flashlight.
The percent Vaseline removal was estimated for the four treatment groups and control, revealing
that tap water samples removed the least Vaseline (7.7%), whereas those treated with dish soap,
and vinegar removed the most (36.6% and 32.5%, respectively). A one-way ANOVA test was
completed on GraphPad Prism 9, resulting in a P-value of < 0.0001. As the P-value is less than
the significance level of 0.05, the null hypothesis that the four cleaners are equally effective at
removing hydrophobic coatings can be rejected. It was determined that a significant difference
did exist between the Vaseline removal efficiency of the cleaners. However, a Tukey Kramer test
run on RStudio revealed no significant difference between dish soap and vinegar with a P-value
of 0.725. Our research study concluded that dish soap and white vinegar are the best choices to
effectively remove hydrophobic wax coatings to ensure the safe consumption of fresh produce