Fresh sprouts
wjarek/iStock/Getty Images

Alfalfa sprouts provide a nutritional punch and a bit of crunch to stir-fries and salads, but concerns about food poisoning mean careful washing is a necessity. Although growers follow strict production guidelines, alfalfa sprouts are best served when thoroughly cooked even after washing. Most infection occurs before the seeds even sprout, so washing the sprouts only removes the surface dirt. If you have your heart set on raw sprouts, it's better to grow them yourself from properly cleaned, disinfected seed from a certified sprout supplier.

Store-Bought Sprouts

Wash your hands with warm water and soap. Disinfect all surfaces and kitchen tools that will come in contact with the sprouts using soap and water, or by wiping the implements with a household disinfectant spray.

Remove the sprouts from their packaging and place them in a clean colander.

Rinse the sprouts under cool running water for 1 minute. Toss or stir the sprouts as you rinse so all the sprouts are evenly rinsed.

Drain the spouts in the colander. Pat dry with a clean towel before preparing and cooking the sprouts.

Homegrown Sprouts

Mix 3 tablespoons bleach with 1 gallon water. Soak the sprouting equipment in the solution for 5 minutes. Wash your hands with soap and water before handling the seeds or disinfected equipment.

Bring 3-percent hydrogen peroxide to 140 degrees Fahrenheit in a small saucepan. Monitor the temperature with a cooking thermometer. Place the alfalfa seeds in a metal strainer and submerge the seeds in the peroxide until the temperature returns to 140 F.

Rinse the seeds under cool water for 1 minute. Wash your hands again before handling the disinfected seeds.

Sprout the seeds as usual, skimming off any hulls or floating empty seeds from the water's surface in the sprouter. After sprouting, wash the alfalfa sprouts before serving as you would store-bought sprouts.


Cook sprouts before serving to prevent any chance of a foodborne illness. Children, the elderly or those with compromised immune system should not eat sprouts.

Remove seed hulls by submerging the sprouts in a bowl of water and skimming the floating hulls off the surface with a spoon.