How To Keep Carved Pumpkins From Rotting [7 Ways] Leave a comment

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So you know how to make a carved pumpkin for Halloween, it’s finally done and it’s a masterpiece!

How can you stop your carved pumpkin from rotting? That’s the question!

Carved pumpkin Jack O Lantern Pin
Jack O Lantern carved pumpkin

After you carve your Halloween pumpkins, you don’t want to see their smiling faces turn into rotten and mushy faces. Our guide will teach you a few tricks on how to keep carved pumpkins from rotting.

You can’t completely stop a pumpkin from rotting after you carve it and take the inside “pumpkin guts” out. Once air, mold, and bacteria touch it, it will naturally start to rot.

But you can do some things to keep your carved pumpkins looking fresh and pretty and help “make the pumpkin last longer”, whether carved or not.

Take a moment to think about the journey of this colorful winter squash for your fun. These giant pumpkins, some as large as a basketball, started as tiny pumpkin seeds in the ground.

After planting, the pumpkin vine began to grow. The leaves and flowers faced challenges like:

The pumpkins’ sole purpose is to decorate your front porch as a Halloween Jack-o-lantern or become a part of grandma’s delicious pumpkin pie! What a life!

Some things you’ll learn in this article:

How to preserve a pumpkinHow long do carved pumpkins lastHow to keep pumpkins from rottingHow long does a carved pumpkin lastand other tips on how to keep a carved pumpkin from rotting

When Should You Carve Your Pumpkin?

How long your Halloween Jack O’Lantern will stay in good shape in warmer weather conditions is hard to know.

Cool temperatures are best. If your fall temperatures are over 70° Fahrenheit, waiting is better. Carve your pumpkin two or three days before Halloween.

How Early Can You Carve A Pumpkin?

When it’s cooler outside, you might be able to carve your pumpkin four days before Halloween. Make sure to keep your pumpkin in the shade and away from the wind as much as you can.

Bring your pumpkin indoors and place it in the fridge or basement (if you have one) during the day. This will help it stay fresh and prevent it from getting soft spots. 

How Long Do Pumpkins Last After Carving Them? 

Generally speaking, a pumpkin should last 3-5 days after you carve it.

Also, no law says you can only carve one pumpkin. You could have one for the week before Halloween and another one for Halloween night and the week after!

How To Preserve Carved Pumpkins – The First Step

Your pumpkin carving journey begins with selecting your pumpkin. Some families make a big “to-do” of picking this winter squash.

The whole family goes to a farm. They walk the fields filled with huge pumpkins, looking for the perfect one to pick right off the vine.

Some people go to a pop-up pumpkin patch. There, sellers bring in small and big pumpkins with a little stem still on them. They also bring other types of gourds, dried corn stalks, fresh apples, and hay. All to help create a “harvest season” feel.

Others get their pumpkin at the local grocery store.

Before any pumpkin carving begins, clean the outside of the pumpkin.

Lightly wash the outside of the pumpkin to remove any dirt or soilUsing paper towels, dry off all the excess moisture from the pumpkin’s surface.

Below you’ll find several solutions, tips, and carving techniques you can use for:

Preserve Jack O LanternsKeep it from drying outHow to make carved pumpkins lastHow to keep carved pumpkins from rottingHow to preserve a pumpkin uncarvedExtend and make your carved pumpkin last longer (don’t expect long-term storage life)… and slow down the developing pumpkin mold.

How To Preserve A Carved Pumpkin By Applying A Pumpkin Bleach Solution

To stop your carved or uncarved pumpkins from spoiling, spray them with pumpkin preserver spray, also known as bleach.

Preserving Carved Pumpkins With A Bleach Spray Solution

Mix the bleach solution below in a spray bottle.

One tablespoon of bleachOne quart of water

Apply water bleach spray solution all over your pumpkins. Make sure to spray the inside, the edges, and any cut openings of the pumpkin.

The spray helps to eliminate all the mold, mildew, and other unwanted stuff.

Ready-to-use solution! Give your decorated pumpkins a good spray with a bleach-based spray, such as Clorox®. Clean-Up® Cleaner + Bleach. A bleach spray helps a lot.

How To Keep A Carved Pumpkin Fresh: 20-Minute Soak In A Bleach Solution

Another way to keep your decorated pumpkins fresh is to soak the pumpkins in bleach using the same above bleach solution for about 20 minutes.

NOTE: Hydrogen Peroxide Solution – Some people suggest spraying a hydrogen peroxide solution to prevent pumpkins from rotting. Hydrogen peroxide does have characteristics that kill bacteria. But this ability to preserve pumpkins isn’t confirmed. It could change the color of the pumpkin or even damage its skin.

How To Keep Jack O Lanterns From Rotting With Borax Rich Pumpkin Preservation Sprays

There are several pumpkin preservative sprays available for sale. These special sprays prevent or slow pumpkins from rotting.

Products like Pumpkin Fresh and Pumpkin Dunk’N help your carved pumpkin last longer and keep it from rotting.

These preservatives contain water, borax and sodium benzoate. They work as a fungicidal solution that kills bacteria and mold.

To make your pumpkins last until Halloween, dry the surface for moisture control and use one of these amazing sprays on them.

How To Keep Carved Pumpkin Fresh With Rubbing Alcohol or Floor Cleaner

Using some rubbing alcohol on pumpkins can work wonders at:

Slowing them from rottingKeeping fruit flies awayStopping mold from growing

Floor cleaners can also do a great job keeping uncarved pumpkins fresh and shiny for as long as four weeks.

Apply an acrylic liquid floor cleaner to a wet towel and wipe the pumpkins with the towel.

How To Preserve Pumpkins With Hairspray or Acrylic Finish Spray

Using hairspray or acrylic finish spray can help keep pumpkins from rotting. Here’s how to do it:

Clean the pumpkin with a damp cloth to remove dirt.Spray a coat of hairspray or acrylic finish spray on the pumpkin’s surface. Cover all areas.Let the spray dry before applying a second coat.Repeat until the pumpkin is fully coated. This creates a barrier to stop moisture and rot.

These sprays help prevent mold from growing and keep rodents from eating your jack-o-lanterns.

This method can keep pumpkins fresh for weeks or even months. But there is no scientific evidence to prove it.

NOTE: This method could be harmful if you plan to eat or cook the pumpkin. Instead, use traditional ways like storing the pumpkin in a cool, dry place or putting it in the fridge.

How To Keep Carved Pumpkins Fresh With WD-40

WD-40 is good for making uncarved pumpkins stay fresh longer. It can repel water and stop freezing, which helps keep your pumpkins fresh.

WD-40 can also stop insects and other creepy bugs from getting inside your decorated pumpkins.

Carved pumpkins can reap the benefits too!

Spray WD-40 over the pumpkin’s surface.Wipe off any extra spray.Let it dry for a full day before putting real or flameless candles inside the pumpkin.

How To Prevent Pumpkins From Rotting With Petroleum Jelly Sealant/ Tabasco with Vaseline

Protect your pumpkin art from pranksters by putting petroleum jelly on your clean, dry pumpkins.

Put a thin layer of petroleum jelly on:

The inside of your jack-o’-lanternsThe edgesThe cut-out parts

This keeps bacteria away and traps moisture inside. Plus, it makes them shiny!

If you’re going to paint your pumpkin, use Vaseline to protect your art and make it last longer. Combining Tabasco sauce and petroleum jelly keeps pesky critters from eating your pumpkins.

How To Preserve A Pumpkin After Carving With Vegetable Oils

Most common vegetable or olive oils can help protect a pumpkin from rotting.

Dry the pumpkins completelyUsing a paper or cloth towelRub a small amount of vegetable oil over the surface.Use enough oil for the pumpkin to look shiny but not greasy.

Remember, chemicals and oils are usually flammable and can prove to be dangerous.

If you use “oil” solutions to keep your pumpkins from rotting and want to light them with candles inside, consider these options.

Use glow sticks or battery-powered tea lights inside your Halloween jack-o-lanterns instead of candles.

How To Make A Carved Pumpkin Last Longer By Avoiding Exposure To Sunlight

Pumpkins can spoil and rot fast if left in the sun. To make your pumpkin last longer:

Keep it in a cool place away from sunlight. Sunlight can make the pumpkin dry out faster.Put your carved pumpkin in a cool, shaded place like a porch or garage.When displaying your carved pumpkin outside, put it in a shady spot or use an umbrella to block the sun.You can place your pumpkin in the fridge if it’s hot outside. Be careful! Don’t let your pumpkin freeze.

How To Stop A Pumpkin From Rotting By Hydrating The Pumpkins

Pumpkins begin to dry out and shrivel over time as they lose their water content.

To make a dried-out pumpkin fresh again, put it in a bathtub or a bucket filled with water. Leave it there overnight or at least for a few hours.

After taking the pumpkin out of the water, make sure you wipe off any extra water. This helps to stop the pumpkin from getting moldy.


Carving a pumpkin can be a fun family affair. Try several of the above methods to see which one works best for you.

Select the right pumpkinPull out the serrated knifeHave a trash bag handy for the pumpkin gutsA glass of cold waterGrab your clean carving tools, and get carving!

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