How To Keep Your Carved Pumpkin From Rotting

After you’ve found the perfect pumpkin, keep these tips in mind…

By Marilyn Nelson on October 18, 2021
(Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
If you want to make your jack-o-lanterns last longer this Halloween there are more than a few tips and tricks that can help.
 
  1. Clean the inside and outside. Cleaning pumpkin inside and out with a teaspoon of bleach per one quart of water will sterilize the gourd, killing any bacteria. Let it dry fully before you start carving.
  2. Give it a bleach-water bath after you carve it. Submerge your masterpiece in a bucket filled with water and 2/3 cup of bleach. Soak for up to 24 hours.
  3. Apply petroleum jelly. This will prevent the edges from drying out too fast. But since it’s flammable, don’t put a candle inside your pumpkin — use a flameless votive instead.
  4. Rehydrate the pumpkin daily. Spraying it every day with water mixed with a few drops of bleach will keep it moist and ward off mold.
  5. Store it in the fridge overnight. If you have room, store it in a plastic bag in your refrigerator, OR any other cool, dark area of your house. 
  6. Give it an ice bath. If you see your pumpkin starting to wilt, give it an ice bath overnight for some serious rehydration the dry it thoroughly to prevent mold.
  7. Don’t use real candles to light it. Using candles essentially cooks your pumpkin. Try using a flickering flameless candles or glow sticks instead.
  8. Display it in a stable temperature. If you’re in an area where the temps drop to freezing, be sure to bring your pumpkins inside each night.
  9. Don’t carve it. Not carving your pumpkin sounds may feel tragic, but it will stay fresher longer. As an alternative try painting or stickers instead.