Input needed: Washing and preserving lettuce

A reader named Beth wrote to me with a question about preserving washed lettuce:

I would like to know what you have found to be the best way to wash and dry lettuce that helps it to store the longest. I buy my lettuce right now, and I usually get 1 leaf lettuce and 1 iceburg.

I read from Emilie Barnes that it's great to wash them well, then spin them in a lingerie bag in your washing machine. I have done that, and it does work very well, but my husband thinks it has to be getting germs on the lettuce.

Do you have a tried and true method that will allow the lettuce to safely be refrigerated for several days?

Unfortunately, I don't have any lettuce-tricks to share. When I wash and tear lettuce from the store, it seems to only keep for a day or so in the fridge, before getting brown spots (which Joshua dislikes!) or starting to go bad.

I just rinse my lettuce under running water and then shake over the sink, or sometimes, dry on a dish towel. I personally wouldn't spin it in the washer (even inside a lingerie bag) because I wash some pretty icky things in my washer, and I don't use bleach very often at all.

I have noticed that fresh lettuce from the garden that's been washed lasts much longer in the fridge than the lettuce from the store. But I only have limited availability when it comes to lettuce from the garden. ;)

Also, tearing the lettuce should help it last longer than cutting it with a knife, since using the knife tends to bruise it more. (Although I am guilty of often cutting my lettuce, since I seem to be in a hurry most of the time!) If I do use a knife, I like to use a sharp serrated one.

Help! Does anyone else have any great lettuce storage and preparation tips to share?! :)


After washing, we tear the lettuce, then spin it in small batches (filling the spinner about 1/2 full) in an OXO salad spinner (although I imagine any good spinner would work just as well - this one is cool, cause it has a 'brake' so that makes it more fun for the boys to use :-)
Then we store it in the fridge in a zip-lock bag with a towel in it. The lettuce stays fresh and crisp for about a week.
This was the way I was able to get my family to enjoy leaf lettuce after having eating iceberg for years. Even if we will be eating the lettuce immediately, we still spin-dry it, since it makes the lettuce so much crisper (more crisp?)

I do about the same. I tear the lettuce first, fill the salad spinner, empty the water and spin a 2nd time. Then I put a paper towel in a bag, as flat as possible, and put lettuce on top of paper towel and store. I make sure the bag is 'breathable' so no moisture is trapped that can speed rotting. The bag is either perforated or I leave the top 'open' with a clip on it.

Hi there,

I"m new to this wonderful site and just registered today.

What I do, is I wash the lettuce, tear the leaves by hand and spin them in a salad spinner until they dry. (I would NOT recommend drying them in the washer). Then I put them in a large Ziploc bag (make sure the air is squeezed out) and store them in the fridge. I find they last quite a while when stored this way. Another tip is when the leaves are used up, I rinse the inside of the Ziploc bag with water and turn it inside out to dry and re-use.

A salad spinner is a great investment because you can spin not only lettuce, but other veggetables as well. Sometimes I just store lettuce leaves in the spinner and stick it in the fridge and it keeps wonderfully.

Hope this helps!

What you want is a salad spinner!
But if you don't want to spend $25 for one of those (I still haven't bought one because we don't eat a lot of salad), the old fashioned way I learned to spin your lettuce is to wrap it in a large kitchen towel after washing (or maybe put it inside of a pillow case?) and take it outside and swing it in circles like a lasso or as you would do for an old-style sling (David and Goliath). Get it going fast and you will look funny, but the water will fly off your lettuce and you are ready to eat.

For storage, after washing you can wrap the lettuce in damp paper towels or a clean damp cloth, then set them inside a large ziplock bag and seal. (I wouldn't think you would need to spin them first. Spinning is just a way to dry your leaves so that the dressing sticks to them and doesn't get watered down.) This works well, and will even re-crisp carrots that have started to get a little limp.

By the way, if you buy carrots that still have the leaves on top, cut the leaves off right away before storing. The carrots lose a lot of moisture through their leaves and will go limp much faster if you leave them on.

Hope this helps!


I don't have any tips. I just wanted to add my voice to the others who've said this is a good post idea! There's only two of us in our household right now, and I have a hard time storing lettuce - we often just end up buying the bag salad because it seems cheaper than buying whole heads that will only go bad before we can use them up.

My parents have this wonderful bowl specifically made for lettuce - it has a piece with a spike in it - you jam the spike into the bottom of the lettuce head, and then the piece keeps the lettuce from sitting on the bottom. Lettuce always kept well for them. But I can't find a bowl like that. I decided yesterday to eventually get a spinner.

You can get these lettuce keepers with spokes and pins from Tupperware-I even bought one from Walmart years ago but don't see them there anymore.They really work.

I must agree with TK. A salad spinner is a good investment. I have found them for a dollar at Big Lots or for about $3 at Walmart. I soak the lettuce in a sink full of cold water, pushing it down once in a while, for a little while and then I rinse them under cold water and spin them dry. Then I tear them and put them in a ziploc bag. The store-bought lettuce doesn't last long at all, but the garden lettuce can sometimes last up to a month. A friend of mine puts a paper towel in the bottom of the ziploc bag and hers lasts a long time, too. It might be worth it to set up some shade and keep lettuce going all summer. With mine, I cut it off at the ground and it regrows. If I keep on top of it, I can have lettuce all summer. Also, I have grow lights in the house (cheapo homemade) and I will be starting some pots of lettuce in the house to take me through the winter. It can be done with just one cheap flourescent light fixture (which we paid about $8 for at Lowe's). Anyway, that is probably much more than you wanted to know... :-D -- Ginny

I wash my lettuce in a clean sink filled with cold water and vinegar. After washing it around some I rinse each leaf individual under running water. The lettuce is then placed on a dish towel to air dry . After it has air dried for sometime I then individual dry each piece with another dish towel making sure that each leaf is dry. The extra moisture from wet leafs turns them brown faster. I have also found that my lettuce stays crisp by using this method. I then store the clean torn lettuce in a glass bowl with a lid. We are a large family so when we wash lettuce we clean enough for the week. I have found by storing lettuce in glass bowls it can go about 6 days before starting to turn brown. I only use Roman and leaf lettuce so I don‘t know who iceberg would hold up.

I do love my salad spinner as it gets endless amounts of clingy water off the lettuce... Without investing in a salad spinner, though, I would recommend shaking your leaves off very well over the sink, then wrapping them in a towel (I use a clean linen towel to avoid waste but paper towels could work too) and seal them air-tight in a large Ziploc bag. The towel soaks up the extra moisture so that when you're ready for your lettuce there's not water all over it, and it uses the moisture to keep the leaves fresh and crisp. Maybe this will help!!

I wash my lettuce in a clean sink filled with cold water and vinegar. After washing it around some I rinse each leaf individual under running water. The lettuce is then placed on a dish towel to air dry . After it has air dried for sometime I then individual dry each piece with another dish towel making sure that each leaf is dry. The extra moisture from wet leafs turns them brown faster. I have also found that my lettuce stays crisp by using this method. I then store the clean torn lettuce in a glass bowl with a lid. We are a large family so when we wash lettuce we clean enough for the week. I have found by storing lettuce in glass bowls it can go about 6 days before starting to turn brown. I only use Roman and leaf lettuce so I don‘t know who iceberg would hold up.

I've got two things that help me.

If I buy lettuce I usually try to get the plastic container ones instead of the bag ones. They seem to last longer. And I've found putting a dry paper towel in there helps too.

If I buy a head or pick a head, one of the best things I've found is called an Evert-Fresh Green Bags. I found them at my local Health Food Store, but my sister has found them in her tiny town, but not sure where. They are green plastic and come in a few different sizes. They help with absorbing the ethelyene gases and help to reduce moisture buildup (according to the back of the package) There are 10 bags in the package and I think it was around $8 or so - but I can't remember since it's been awhile since I bought them. They are reusable for quite a while too. I don't sell them, just a very happy customer. Oh, and I found a website on the back:

For keeping lettuce, I rinse in the sink with my veggie wash then spin dry in my salad spinner. I also use it for other things & was well worth the investment. Then I dry in towels and place leaves in a plastic bag wrapped in a few dry paper towels. It keeps about 6-8 days without turning brown this way. I also try not to cut but tear and keep as many leaves whole as possible. Hope this helps.
Lord Bless!

I always wash my salad in the sink with cold water. Then I spin it in a salad spinner that looks like this : until most of the water is gone. Afterwards I put it in a plastic airtight container ( something like tupperware but much cheaper) and I store the salad in the fridge. It generally lasts a week like this, depending on how fresh the salad was in the first place.
I buy all sorts of salad and always store it like this.
I hope this helps, because I'm very doubtful about spinning it in the washing machine.

I agree with all of the above! If you are germ phobic fill the CLEAN sink with water. Add 1 T clorox and soak. I learned this in the Peace Corps--it kills the germs but doesn't hurt you. Rinse well. Salad spinner is an essential in my house!! I also find when the plastic container of leaf lettuce from Sam's is a few days old, I take it out and wash it and wash the contianer and it lasts longer. Remember to pull out any "icky" leaves as you see them. Save for spinach or collards.....

Add 1 T clorox and soak

I'm trying to figure out if you mean to soak the sink with bleach water before washing the lettuce in it, or if you mean to actually put the lettuce in the bleach water...??

Personally, I think I'll take my chances with the germs... although I do like to scour my sink with my homemade salt/borax/baking soda scouring powder every now and then... :)

I buy lettuce for our large family from Costco. It is romaine, already washed, and lasts at least 2 weeks. I think the key is that it is in a ziplock type bag & it is washed and dried but the leaves themselves are not torn or cut apart. It makes sense to store the leaves whole because it seems like it would reduce the moisture factor & exposed edges.

I buy green leaf lettuce and wash it, break off the stalk and shake off the excess water then I store it in a ziplock baggy filled with air. I have tested this method with the green leaf and red leaf lettuce as well as iceburg lettuce. The leaf lettuce does stay crisp for about 3 weeks as long as the bag is filled with air. The iceburg lettuce lasts aboutI 2 weeks before it starts getting the black around the edges. I eat alot of salads and hate going to the store every week just to buy lettuce.

i would use the salad spinner also instead of the washer, I usually leave mine whole and wash before using, but prewashed is so nice!

After you wash it and put it in a ziplock bag with a paper towel it seems to last longer. The towel absorbs the extra moisture. After a day or 2 replace the towel with a new one.

I'm low-tech. I wash my lettuce carefully, leaf by leaf, under the running water. I lay several dish towels across my counter and lay each leaf on the towels. Then I use another towel or 2 to dry them from the top. I store it all in a large Rubbermaid container with a "lettuce keeper" at the bottom. It's a little piece that keeps anything in the container raised off the bottom to allow a little air to circulate. My lettuce typically lasts at least a week by doing this.

Ewokgirl (

I have never washed all my lettuce at once! LOL I wash it as I use it. I use only romaine, and as soon as I get it home, I wrap it in a couple of paper towels and put it in a ziploc bag that I leave open. It lasts me for a couple of weeks this way.

Now that I've seen that others wash the whole head at once, I may try that and spin the water off and wrap it in paper towels. I'm more likely to make a salad if I don't have to do all that much to get it ready! ;)

I don't have a salad spinner, but I do have several containers made by Tupperware that are made for keeping veggies fresh in the fridge. They were a bit expensive, but they work so great that they were well worth the cost. I think they are called FridgeMates or FridgeSmart or something close to that. Each container has 2 openings that you can open or close, depending on that particular veggie's need for ventilation. They also have a chart printed on them that tells you how to adjust the openings. Since getting this Tupperware container, I wash my lettuce & leave it in a strainer for a while then put it in the tupperware container. I have iceburg lettuce last as long as 3 weeks! They work great on every kind of fruit & veggie I've put in them. And no, I don't sell Tupperware, I'm just a very satisfied customer.

Give the washing machine another chance! I put mine in a pillow case and tie a knot in the top. (After washing it in water w/ a little vinegar.) I almost never have lettuce go bad on me, even if I wash to heads at a time.


I remember thinking that a salad spinner was the silliest and one of the most unnessary kitchen gadgets out there,,...until I got one! I got one as a gift and absolutely love the results. The lettuce stays much more crisp and fresher longer!

I tear it and drop it right into the strainer part of the bowl while it is in the outer bowl. I fill up the entire bowl up with cold water and let soak while I prep other stuff. Then I just pull out strainer part, dump the dirty water, wipe out the bowl, and spin-away. If I'm using the outer bowl part as my final salad bowl, I clean it thouroughly after spinning.

Since I've gotten the spinner, I make one big salad after shopping day and we pick at it all week for lunches or with dinner.

I never heard about using a paper towel? Does anyone know why/how that helps?


I live in the Southwest and the air, even in our refrigerator, is often very dry. For us the paper towel or a cloth absorbs extra moisture so the lettuce (or carrots, etc) are not sitting in water (problem with rotting), but there is still moisture available in the bag so the leaves of lettuce (or carrot roots) can still draw in moisture as needed so they don't wilt/go limp so quickly.

I think it works because it absorbs the moisture in the lettuce as that is what I think makes it go brown.....
I don't know exactly though!

I haven't time to read all comments, but here is what we do and it works for us. We wash, either cut or tear (the bagged salads seemed to have cut salad after all - and you can buy special non-metal knives for lettuce) and then pile it from the colander into a tea towel which we make into a sort of bag by gathering it up and holding the ends in a clenched fist, then go outside and shake it about by swinging our arms. Leftover lettuce can be wrapped in the damp teatowel in the fridge. Love, Lucy

I use a Tupperware Salad Spinner and use the snap-on lid that comes with it. The basket (spinning part) holds the lettuce out of whatever remaining water you may have.

I tear into pieces, add cold water and a tray of ice cubes, then let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours. My romaine perks right up and is crisp. Then, I drain it and spin it until I don't have any more water coming out. The lettuce keeps for quite a while. I think the longest I've had my iceberg/leaf lettuce mix stay fresh was for 1 1/2 weeks. I'm also not a Tupperware consultant, just a very happy customer!!

For my lettuce from the garden, I actually have found out that it lasts for a LONG time if I don't wash it until I need it. Also, for some reason, if I store it in a plastic grocery store bag-like the ones you get at walmart or something- it seems to last longer than without a bag or in a ziploc bag.

Do not cut lettuce with a knife, rather, tear it.
The leaves are comprised of inter connected cell walls in the well known patterns. If you cut it, you will cut through the cell walls and the water stored in the cells as a turgid pressure bleeds out, and not only does the lettuce get limp, it is more open to attack by bacteria, mold et al. Renee, CA

I just immediately tear off the outside leaves and any that have brown stuff or are remotely limp (anything less than pretty and perky) and set those aside. I make sure the stem is clean, leave all the leaves attached to it, wrap the whole bunch in a clean, dry tea towel. Then I store it in the crisper in the grocer bag I brought the apples home in, ie. clean & dry, not the bag I brought the lettuce home in. I just wash leaves as I need them, pat dry with another tea towel and eat. For the first leaves I tore off immediately when I got home from the store, I salvage what I can of those and have a salad of them that very day. Last for at least a week. I'd like to try that spinning a pillowcase over my head trick...but I live in an apartment! I can just see it!

I grow lettuce and have found if you wash it and wrap it wet in either paper hand towels or newspapper it will stay fresh and crispy for over a month.

I rotate the stock, by using the older harvest, if it starts to wilt, in wilted lettuce salad.

I use a salad spinner to wash my lettuce & Then store it in Tupperware fridgesmarts. You can keep fresh veggies a long time in fridgesmarts! Ziploc bags may be ok but Tupperware you can reuse for years. I have customers who have been using theirs for almost 50 years. A must for every frugal womens kitchen

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