Preserving Your Halloween Pumpkin

Pumpkin carving is a great way to get into the fall spirit; but how many times have you carved too early in the month and surprised trick-or-treaters with a wilted mess come Halloween night?

Whether you choose to create a classic jack-o'-lantern or an intricate work of art, your carved pumpkin shouldn't go unnoticed. By taking a few simple steps, you can help preserve your pumpkin and keep it in mint condition longer.

The two main ways to preserving pumpkins are to reduce moisture and prevent mold. While they do go hand-in-hand, not all preservation methods can effectively do both.

Based on your personal preference, there are a few ways you can preserve your pumpkins this fall.


We've tried it all to keep pumpkins fresh ' Vaseline, white glue, clear-coat acrylic spray, and even specialized pumpkin spray. However, bleach can both effectively preserve pumpkins, and ward off flies and other critters that can cause damage.

There are two bleaching methods that can be used for preservation.

  1. Spray: A spray bottle of bathroom cleaner with bleach is all you'll need for this method. The bleach helps to both dry out the pumpkin and eliminate excess microbes. Once you've finished carving your pumpkin, simply spray a liberal amount of bleach to all cut areas ' the underside of the lid/top, interior and other areas where carving that occurred. One application should do the trick, but if you'd like to admire your work a little longer, apply spray to the designated areas every three to four days. The spray method should give your pumpkin an extra 10 days of life before it begins to wilt significantly. 
  2. Soak: While applying bleach via spray bottle is an effective preservation method, soaking it will add a few more days of life. Depending on the size of your pumpkin, you'll need anything from a 5-gallon bucket to a large rubber container to soaking in. After you've completed carving your pumpkin, mix 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water into the selected container. Then, place your carved pumpkin into the mixture where it should soak for 6 to 8 hours. When the soaking process is complete, carefully remove the pumpkin from the container, pat the exterior dry with paper towels and then set it upside down onto newspaper or paper towels for about 10 minutes to allow it to air dry. The soaking method should give your pumpkin an extra 12 to 13 days of life before it begins to wilt significantly.

Natural Options

If you prefer a more natural method, there are a few chemical-free options you can select from.

Ingredients like tea tree oil and grapefruit seed extract extend the freshness of carved pumpkins for up five days, as both work as natural antimicrobial solutions. These substances should be applied to all carved areas of the pumpkin ' both inside and out.

The Dirt from Troy-Bilt®
October 2016