How To Preserve Pumpkins To Keep Them Looking Fresh for Longer

Stretch the lifespan of your seasonal porch display.

When the fall rolls around, we love adorning our porch with the bounty of the season. You'll find hay bales, gourds, and of course, pumpkins gracing Southern porches to make fabulous seasonal displays. But while it may look great to collect an entire harvest on your porch, chances are that after a week or two, all that produce won't be looking so shiny and new.

The issue isn't merely aesthetic: Rotting pumpkins bring an unsavory smell and they can attract unwanted pests and animals. Don't have the neighborhood bird population flocking to your porch to snack on your decaying pumpkin. Follow these quick and easy steps to preserve your pumpkin with a bleach solution. This easy hack will keep your pumpkin looking fresh and shiny for up to 10 days longer.

Sugar Pumpkin
Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

How To Preserve A Carved Pumpkin

Hollowed-out carved pumpkins are more likely to deteriorate quicker than uncarved pumpkins. These skeletal pumpkins have lots of places for pests to hide and residue of yummy pumpkin flesh for them to munch on. Be sure to clean out your pumpkin thoroughly when you carve it. To help keep your pumpkin fresh, a quick soak in a bleach solution will do the trick. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Rinse your carved pumpkin with water.
  2. In a bucket large enough to fit your pumpkin, mix one tablespoon of bleach per quart of water. You'll need enough of this mixture to completely submerge your pumpkin.
  3. Dunk the pumpkin in the water, holding it under the surface (you'll want to wear gloves), and let it soak for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove the pumpkin from the bucket and let the pumpkin air dry.

Smear petroleum jelly all over the outside and inside of your pumpkin to keep it from drying out. If you want to keep away pests, mix the petroleum jelly with hairspray, acrylic finish spray, and Tabasco sauce.

A few additional tips to prevent carved pumpkins from rotting:

  1. Use battery-operated lights instead of real candles inside the pumpkin.
  2. When it's not on display, store the pumpkin in a cool, dark room (like a basement) or put in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. Spray carved pumpkins daily with water that's mixed with a few drops of bleach. This will help with hydration and protect against rot.
  4. If your pumpkin starts looking sad and wilty, perk it back up with a cool bath. Submerge the pumpkin in a large container filled with cold water, and let it soak overnight. It will emerge rehydrated and ready to return to the front porch. (Dry thoroughly before displaying again to prevent mold.)
  5. Cover carved pumpkins with clear acrylic spray (available at craft stores and home-improvement center), which will act as a shield against bugs and bacteria.

How To Preserve An Uncarved Pumpkin

Since the pumpkin isn't carved to expose its interior crevices and the yummy pest-attracting flesh, uncarved pumpkins are more likely to stay good for longer. But there's still a way to preserve it for even longer.

  • Spray WD-40 on the surface of your pumpkin. This will help keep it fresh for longer!

If you're looking for a carve-free strategy that's still festive for Halloween, try painting your pumpkin instead. Now head to the pumpkin patch and pick out that perfect gourd to accent your front porch.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles