Why You Should Always Wash Your Potatoes (Before Baking Them)

  • By: VidJovanovic
  • Date: October 19, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Some people think it’s necessary to wash off dirt or grime before cooking the spuds to avoid making your dinner taste bland or, worse—mushy.

Others believe that washing potatoes before baking them can cause them to absorb extra moisture while cooking, which would make your dinner taste even blander (and mushy).

So what should you do? Should you wash those spuds or leave ’em dirty? Here’s what I’ve found.

Key Takeaways

  • You do not need to wash potatoes before baking them.
  • Potatoes have a natural protective layer that helps keep them clean.
  • Washing potatoes can make them more susceptible to bacteria.
  • If you do choose to wash your potatoes, be sure to dry them completely before baking.
  • Potatoes should always be cooked thoroughly before eating.
Washing two different varieties of potatoes.
Why You Should Always Wash Your Potatoes

Do You Have To Wash Potatoes Before Baking Them?

That depends. If your potatoes are clean and free of dirt and debris, you don’t need to wash them. Washing a potato before baking can cause it to absorb too much water and become mushy.

That’s because the skin of a potato is porous and absorbs water like a sponge. The more time passes after washing your potatoes, the longer they will take to bake (because they’re they absorb more moisture).

So if you’re planning on making mashed potatoes or French fries from freshly boiled spuds, or even just serving them with ketchup as an alternative side dish for burgers or hot dogs, go ahead! Wash away.

Ensure you dry them well so they get crispy when baked in their jackets.

Potatoes Are Often Thought To Need A Good Wash Before Cooking

washing potatoes under a flowing water with no skin
Potatoes Are Often Thought To Need A Good Wash Before Cooking

Potatoes are often thought to need a good wash before cooking, but this isn’t always the case. The reason people think they need to wash potatoes is that they’re afraid of the dirt and pesticides that might be on them.

Indeed, potatoes often have some dirt on them, but there’s no need for concern—if you use organic potatoes and don’t eat from the leaves or sprouts, you’ll be fine.

If you’re still worried about pesticides, consider washing your organic potatoes under running water for about 20 seconds before cooking; if you want to use an apple cider vinegar solution (1 teaspoon per quart of water), make sure it’s diluted first (for example 1/4 cup ACV + 4 cups water).

If The Potatoes Are Covered In Dirt Or Sand, Then They Will Need To Be Washed

If the potatoes are covered in dirt or sand, they must be washed. They can be scrubbed with a brush under running water if they are only lightly soiled.

If The Potatoes Are Only Lightly Soiled, Then They Can Be Scrubbed With A Brush Under Running Water

If you have only lightly soiled potatoes and scrub them under running water, they can be safely scrubbed with a brush.

The objective here is to clean and dry your potato so that it is ready for baking by removing any dirt from its surface.

This may sound like a lot of work, but it’s easy.

Baking Potatoes With The Skin On Doesn’t Require Them To Be Washed First

When you’re baking potatoes, there’s no need to wash them first. The skin on a potato protects it from damage and keeps it firm during cooking.

It’s full of fiber, vitamins and nutrients. You can eat the skin – just don’t eat all of it at once.

Potatoes That Are Going To Be Peeled Should Be Washed Regardless Of How Clean They Look

If you bake your potatoes, you must wash them first. If you don’t, then the oil from the potato will bake into the skin and onto your baking pan.

When this happens, it makes peeling the potatoes much more difficult. If you are going to cook your potatoes in any way other than by baking them, they should also be washed.

This is because when cooked in water or oil – which can happen if boiled or fried – they tend to absorb a lot of liquid, making peeling even harder than usual because of all that extra moisture clinging to their skins.

Washing Potatoes Before Cooking Can Make Them Absorb More Water And Become Mushy

When it comes to potato preparation, many people believe that washing your potatoes before cooking makes them absorb less water and nutrients.

But the opposite is true: potatoes absorb more water than other vegetables.

When you wash your potatoes (and any other vegetable), you add more water to them. They become mushy and lose their firmness when they absorb that extra liquid.

So if you want to keep your spuds nice and waxy-crisp when baking or frying them up for dinner tonight, do not wash them.

How To Wash Potatoes Before Baking Them?

washing potatoes in your sink
How To Wash Potatoes Before Baking Them
  • Use a brush to scrub the potatoes under running water. To clean the potatoes, use a gentle sponge or towel, but you should never use steel wool or abrasive cleaners. The idea is not to scrub off any of that delicious potato skin, which is loaded with nutrients and fiber.
  • If you have a vegetable brush, it’s also perfect for cleaning potatoes. Just be sure not to peel your spuds before washing them — it’s better for all involved if they stay in their natural state.

What Happens If You Don’t Wash Potatoes Before Baking Them?

You may wonder: What happens if you don’t wash your potatoes? Well, the answer is quite simple.

If you don’t wash your potato, it will absorb more water and get mushy.

This can lead to the following problems:

  • The potato could sprout.
  • Your potato might develop a bitter flavor and an unpleasant odor (as discussed). These are two things that nobody wants on their plate when they’re eating dinner.

The Benefits Of Not Washing Potatoes Before Baking Them

What are the benefits of not washing potatoes before baking? Well, there are two. First, you’re saving time and effort—and who doesn’t like to save time and effort?

The second is that you’re using less water, which means your hands are less likely to get pruney from all the washing.

I’ve been known to serve baked potatoes with nothing but butter on them, but I think most people also like their ketchup. There’s nothing wrong with ketchup; it’s delicious.

But if you’re using store-bought ketchup (or any kind of sauce), make sure it isn’t full of added salt or sugar: both will lead to a bland-tasting potato dish.


We hope that you’re now ready to get out there and eat your potatoes without fear.

They are simple, delicious, and nutritious—and if you’ve been reading this article properly (and not just skimming), you should be well-equipped to serve them without worrying about the world. Happy baking.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common potato-washing mistakes to avoid?

Some common potato-washing mistakes to avoid are forgetting to clean the potatoes and sanitizing them before cooking, leading to an increased chance of food poisoning.

Can potatoes be baked without being washed first?

Yes, potatoes can be baked without being washed first. However, it is important to note that potatoes will not bake well if they are not cleaned and sanitized beforehand.

How long do you need to wash potatoes before baking them?

If needed, potatoes must be washed for a minimum of 2-3 minutes.

What is the best way to wash potatoes before baking them?

Washing potatoes before baking them is unnecessary, but it can help reduce the number of nutrients lost during cooking. The best way to wash potatoes before baking them is by rinsing and then scrubbing with a brush or potato peeling tool.


Vid Jovanovic

I’m Vid Jovanovic and I’m 36 years old. I’m a teacher by profession and my passion lies in baking. I have been baking since my early teens, when my grandmother taught me how to make a simple cake that you can find in any supermarket. My passion for baking grew as I got older and I started experimenting with different ingredients and recipes.