How to Wash Kale

Kale is a leafy green vegetable packed with essential vitamins and minerals. It can give a boost of flavor and nutrition to things like salads, stews, and green smoothies. Here’s How to Wash Kale and store it to keep it fresh and crisp.

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freshly washed leaves of kale in a salad spinner.

Why we love this

It is always a good idea to include a hearty green into your healthy meals. We love nutrient-rich kale in recipes like this Classic Green Smoothie and this Vegan Buddha Bowl.

Kale is curly, giving the dirt and grit lots of places to hide. This method will ensure your kale is clean and no little pebbles will make their way into your smoothie or pot of soup.

Having it prepped and on hand makes it super easy to incorporate into your recipes.

kale in a colander.

What are the different kinds of kale?

  1. Curly Kale: This is the most common type of kale with ruffled leaves and a slightly bitter taste. It’s often used in salads, stir-fries, and smoothies.
  2. Lacinato Kale (also known as Tuscan Kale or Dinosaur Kale): Lacinato kale has long, narrow, dark green leaves with a pebbled texture. It has a sweeter and more delicate flavor compared to curly kale. It’s commonly used in soups, stews, and sautés.
  3. Red Russian Kale: This variety has flat, fringed leaves that are reddish-purple in color. It has a milder taste compared to curly kale. Red Russian kale works well in kale salads, sautés, and as a garnish.
freshly washed leaves of kale in a salad spinner.

What you need

How to Wash Kale

Step 1

First, start to prepare the fresh kale by tearing the leaves from the kale stems, then tearing them into bite-sized pieces.

You could use a knife and cutting board to chop it all precisely, but who needs more dirty dishes?

Step 2

Next, add your prepared kale to the colander of the salad spinner and top it up with fresh running water.

kale soaking in water.

Step 3

Then, give it a good massage with your fingers and really shake through the leaves.

This helps to loosen any grit or dirt that is hiding in those curls.

a hand washing leafy greens.

Next, drain the water and refill it again.

Repeat the massaging process and drain it again. Refill the colander for a third time with fresh water. We like using the triple rinse method and drawing from our experience find that this process should eliminate any residual grit.

Keep repeating the process with water until the water is clear.

Step 4

Finally, pop the lid on your salad spinner and start spinning the kale dry.

Empty the large bowl a couple of times and spin again. You want to eliminate all of the water droplets so the leaves are as dry as possible.

Excess moisture can cause the kale leaves to wilt or become slimy. Blech.

a salad spinner in motion.

Storage tips

First, line the large produce bag with the clean dish cloth.

Next, stuff the freshly spun dry kale inside then top it with another clean dishcloth. Again, this keeps the leaves dry and crisp.

Then squeeze as much air out of the bag as you can and seal it. Store it in your refrigerator crisper drawer.

The kale should last up to 3 days in the fridge.

leafy greens stuffed in a ziploc bag lined with a dishcloth.

Expert tip

Using a kitchen towel or reusable paper towels for storage is a bit more environmentally conscious alternative to a layer of paper towels as you can wash and reuse them.

If you are using plastic bags, wash out the Ziploc bag too! Reusing everything you can is a good eco-friendly practice.


What if I buy pre-washed or bagged kale?

Even if the kale is labeled as pre-washed, it’s still a good idea to give it a quick rinse before eating. This helps ensure any residual dirt or bacteria is removed.

Should you soak kale in vinegar?

Vinegar is an ingredient in many homemade, natural cleaners, and there is a reason for it. It is a natural disinfectant. However, for washing organic leafy greens, it isn’t necessary.

Good old H2O and some handwashing action will do the trick.

However, if the kale bunches you buy aren’t organic it is possible they have been sprayed with pesticides. There is acetic acid in vinegar and according to some experts, this could help dissolve those chemicals.

a ziploc bag lined with a kitchen cloth and stuffed with leafy greens.

Healthy recipes with kale

A glass of green juice.

Green Juice Recipe

Sweet Potato Gratin

a vegan buddha bowl.

Vegan Buddha Bowl with Lemon Tahini Dressing

Classic Green Smoothie

**This was originally posted on August 26, 2018, and updated on August 10, 2020, and updated again on June 4, 2023, with recipe notes, writing, and photos.**

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freshly washed leaves of kale in a salad spinner.

How to Wash Kale

Sharon Rhodes
Fresh kale is a leafy green vegetable packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Add to salads, stews, or green smoothies. Here’s How to Wash and Store Kale leaves in the refrigerator so you can keep them fresh and crisp.
5 from 51 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Salad, Smoothie
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 32 kcal


  • 2 bunches kale


  • Tear the kale leaves off the stem and then tear them into smaller pieces.
  • Add your prepared kale to a colander and top it up with fresh water.
  • Give the leaves a good massage with your fingers and really shake through the leaves.

  • Drain the water and re-fill it again with water.
  • Repeat the massaging process and drain again. Refill the colander for a third time with fresh water. This process should eliminate any residual grit. Keep repeating the process with water until the water is clear.
  • Pop the lid on your salad spinner and start spinning the kale dry. Empty the bowl a couple of times to see how much water remains. You want it dry as possible. I usually spin and empty a couple of times.
  • Line a large Ziploc or reusable produce bag with a clean dish cloth. Stuff the freshly spun dry kale inside then top it with another clean dish cloth. This helps to draw out any moisture and keeps the greens crisp. The key is to
  • Squeeze as most of the air out as possible, seal the bag, and store it in your crisper for up to 3 days.



  • to use, open the bag and grab what you need. Be sure to remove the air in the bag before resealing it and putting it back into the refrigerator crisper drawer.


Calories: 32kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 3gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 25mgPotassium: 319mgVitamin A: 6494IUVitamin C: 78mgCalcium: 98mgIron: 1mg
Keyword how to prep kale, how to store kale, how to wash kale
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  1. 5 stars
    Fresh kale is so good for you and I love eating it fried until crispy, in salads. So irresistible! It’s great to know how to store it to ensure it stays fresher for longer.

  2. 5 stars
    This is such a useful post! I’m a green goddess too (lol!) and love my smoothies and veggies, so having proper storage and making sure they don’t go bad is so important. Excited to read more of your tips x

  3. Hi thanks for the tips! I use a lettuce keeper.
    Progressive prep works is a good one. It can last for more than a week.

  4. This is an excellent post, Sharon. We use kale in many dishes as well (love salted crispy kale!). Great tips for being environmentally friendly, too. We are the same as you, even recycling the water to give our planters a drink. 🙂 Thanks for the great tips and techniques.

  5. We eat a lot of kale too, and your tips are spot on! I grow it in my garden so I can just pick a few leaves at a time. I’ve been spotted out there in my PJ’s, gathering some for morning smoothies! Great post. Thanks!

  6. Another option:
    1. Open garbage can
    2. Place bag of kale in the garbage can
    3. Close the garbage can
    4. Live happily ever after

    1. What?! The garbage can? You are crazy. Lol. I actually LOVE kale. It is earthy and just FEELS healthy when you eat it. Or drink it which I mainly do. Try a smoothie Andrea! Add a banana. It is good stuff!!

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