Preserve Pumpkins & Gourds | An Easy & Quick Method

How to preserve pumpkins, and how to preserve gourds using just three ingredients. Keeps pumpkins and gourds from rotting and is so easy!

fall decorating ideas white pumpkins in basket tray centerpiece

So fall has arrived. It’s your favorite season, and you have been looking forward to it all summer. You purchased your pumpkins & gourds, and brought them home to decorate. They are scattered around your rooms, in little vignettes, and you just love the way everything looks. A week later, you see a pumpkin out of place. You pick it up, only to find out that it’s rotten and smelly!

Read on for a tried and true way to avoid this heartbreak!

*Click {HERE} to learn how to make the pumpkin arrangement pictured above.

An easy and quick method, using just three ingredients, to preserve pumpkins & gourds for your fall decor. This takes just a few minutes! How to make pumpkins last longer.

*Affiliate links (Amazon & others) included. Click HERE for my disclosure statement.

I’ve included this little trick for how to preserve pumpkins & gourds in a couple of emails to my subscribers, but I wanted to make sure that everyone sees how easy this is. It really works, so your real pumpkins & gourds will last for weeks.

The thing that makes pumpkins & gourds rot in the first place is the dirt and mold that they pick up from the fields where they are grown. In order to preserve them and prevent the rotting, that dirt and mold must be removed. So if you’ve always wondered how to preserve pumpkins easily, here you go!

How to Preserve Pumpkins & Gourds

  • Prepare a mixture of bleach, water and dish soap. 
    (One gallon water, 2 tablespoons bleach, and a squirt of dish soap.)
  • Soak real gourds for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Use a tub or even your kitchen sink.
  • Rinse and dry well.
  • Before adding to your decor, it’s optional to give your pumpkins a quick coat of spray matte sealer. It helps preserve them even longer. 

An easy and quick method, using just three ingredients, to preserve pumpkins & gourds for your fall decor. This takes just a few minutes!

I filled my sink once, and did a batch of white pumpkins first, followed by the big heirloom pumpkin. I rolled them around a little to make sure they got a complete bath, including the stem. You don’t need deep water, because the smaller pumpkins actually float. The larger pumpkins can be rolled, or placed on their sides, in order to soak the entire pumpkin properly.

An easy and quick method, using just three ingredients, to preserve pumpkins & gourds for your fall decor. This takes just a few minutes!

How to Preserve Pumpkins: An Extra Step

After their bath, rinse the pumpkins well, and let them dry on a towel. Make sure they are completely dry before they are displayed. There’s an extra step you can take that will make your pumpkins last even longer. If you have time, spray them with a thin coat of matte sealer. Sometimes I do this and sometimes I don’t…but I do believe it helps preserve them longer.

thanksgiving tablescape ideas white pumpkins in dough bowl

See this Autumn Table Setting

How to Preserve Gourds: how long will they last?

So how long will pumpkins and gourds last after their bath? My best answer is at least a few weeks, but probably much longer. It depends on the heat and humidity in your house, plus the condition the gourds were in when you bought them.

  • Try to choose pumpkins and gourds that are somewhat clean and free from bruises.
  • The sooner you buy your gourds, the better. By getting them early in the season, you will get the best choice, and your gourds will be fresh. Waiting until the week before Halloween will guarantee you’ll go home with a pumpkin that’s been sitting around for a while.
  • For the past few years, I have purchased my real pumpkins & gourds as soon as they are available at the farm stand, which is usually in early September. Without fail, they have all stayed fresh and firm throughout the fall season.

fall gift tag on mini orange pumpkin

The tag featured above is part of my Celebrate Autumn Bundle. Click the button below to find out more!

Fall is, quite possibly, my favorite time of year. It’s really hard to choose a favorite season, but if I had to, it would be fall. My love for fall is reflected in the content on this website. I enjoy making fall printables, there are fall tablescapes, easy autumn decor ideas, and so much more. Fall decor is timeless, and there are so many ideas here for you to use. To make sure you don’t miss a thing, I would love for you to join my email subscriber list. Just click {HERE} for more information. My email subscribers are the first to see everything!

mini pumpkin flower arrangement with mums on cake plate

Thanks for stopping by…see you soon!

Check out the web story
version of this post {HERE.}

Do you love fall and need inspiration
to welcome your favorite season? Look at this!

osp celebrate autumn bundle graphic orange button

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  1. Cindy Rust says:

    Thanks for the tips on preserving pumpkins. I haven’t tried this method but I certainly will now!

  2. “(One gallon water, 2 T. bleach and a squirt of dish soap.)”
    What is “T”???

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I’m sorry. It’s tablespoons. That’s an old fashioned abbreviation that I should not have used. My mom always used a capital “T” for tablespoon, and a lower case “t” for teaspoon. Thanks for letting me know!

  3. Teresa Avila says:

    Sounds like a wonderful group would love to learn more

  4. Great tip! Wish I knew about how to preserve pumpkins years ago!

    1. PAULA WINDER says:

      I make bowls out of my gourds. They last forever, unless they get broken. They are glazed a couple of times & I use them for misc snacks, & many other things. Have a blessed Halloween!

  5. Donna Grant says:

    5 stars
    I use my pumpkins to make pies, cookies after Halloween. Will this washing hinder it? Don’t want any bleach or soap in my goodies.

  6. 5 stars
    Thank you for posting this. Bugs have gotten to my
    garden gourds and pumpkins. They need to be picked but I didn’t know what to do. I figured if I pull them up at this time they would be gross by fall. Your post appeared at the perfect time. Are you a mind reader? 😆

    1. Ann Drake says:

      No…I’m not. But your comment just completely made my day. Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know!

  7. Lucia Donahower says:

    Thank you Ann for such great ideas.

  8. Judy Bridgers says:

    5 stars
    Thank you. I have been enjoying your blog for years. Your taste is Impeccable. Love it all! Thank you for sharing your ideas!

  9. Donna Mead says:

    5 stars
    Thanks for the post, I will certainly do this. As an additional note, I have let my small decorative gourds dry out completely (the first time was by accident!), and they can then be painted and make fun natural percussion type rattles!
    Thanks for the great posts, I really enjoy your work.

  10. Mary Jane Peterson says:

    I have done this the past few years and the small pumpkins have actually lasted up to 9 months. Really! Hard to believe but true. It’s a great idea.

  11. Is this necessary for outside pumpkins or only those used inside? I don’t generally buy real but found a great deal at Lidl this year & stocked up. I was hoping they would last in the moderate & hopefully soon to be cooler temperatures in Coastal Virginia thru the Thanksgiving Holiday. Am I being overly optimistic?

  12. I just turned over my big pumpkin in the bath and I see some spots that weren’t there when I brought it home last night! They don’t feel soft though… will the bath help!?

  13. Thank you for this. I have found it really does help prolong life of pumpkins. And, I like to use the shiny spray -Krylon or evening Walmart – for a little more light-catching. Gold is really pretty too!!!

  14. Does the temperature of the water matter?

  15. Barbara Harilaou says:

    I’ve planted gourds and pumpkins in my garden this year. I intend to decorate my house come fall season and the idea of them lasting longer is great thank you so much for this post on how to preserve them longer. Have a great day XOXO

  16. Deborah P says:

    Thank you! After having a pumpkin rot on a former kitchen table and leaving a stain, I’m leery of real pumpkins/gourds. I’ve printed off these instructions and will venture again into the wild! :)

  17. Thank you for sharing how to preserve our fall pumpkins.

  18. Patricia Harkness says:

    Thank you for teaching us how to preserve our pumpkins and gourds. I use this method every year, and it works great!


  19. Can you paint the pumpkins after the bath then spray them.

  20. Always inspired by your creativity. Love the blog. Love fall too!


  21. Margaret Mary Frolo says:

    What about the insides of the gourds and the pumpkins doesn’t that eventually rot how do you empty paint inside of the gourd if you want to make instruments or bowls or birdhouses

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Margaret…yes, the insides of the pumpkins or gourds will eventually rot. For the past few years, my pumpkins have lasted 6-8 weeks after the washing technique. As far as removing the insides, I have never done that, so I am no help there!

    2. Donna Mead says:

      Hi Margaret,
      I just posted above about letting the small decorative gourds dry out. I let them sit in a cool, dry area till spring and have had great success in them drying out to make easy natural rattle type instruments from. I’ve only had one gourd ever collapse and rot. I do live in a dry climate (southwest), so I can’t say how a humid area would cause them to react.

  22. Wow, I need to do this! Maybe my pumpkins will last longer this year.

  23. Luann Booher says:

    I’m going to try this, because I could have pumpkins year round! For the matte sealer, though, do you mean a spray-on type of sealer (such as Krylon) or something more like Mod Podge?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Luann…the spray on type of sealer will work great. Any brand will do. Good luck!

  24. Thank you for the info! Always appreciate learning new things on your blog. Have a nice fall weekend!

  25. I didn’t rinse mine. Is that going to cause problems? Yikes!!!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Oh no…you’re fine!

  26. Thank you for the tip. I’ll be doing this with my pumpkins this year.

  27. Who knew you could preserve pumpkins and gourds! Thank you so much for sharing this information as I am going to definitely try this. Pumpkins are just a staple in fall decorating. Love your blog Ann!

  28. Just wondering if you think that spraying the pumpkins and gourds with a matte sealer also deters squirrels and other rodents from eating them? I love piling them outside with mums but every year they are eaten by my outside “neighbors!”

  29. If your dish soap has ammonia in it, you should not mix it with bleach as it produces harmful gases.

  30. Thank you so much for the washing instructions. My pumpkins have to last from early October to Thanksgiving, so I will definitely use your directions. I have never heard of including the matte spray, but it makes sense that it would add a layer of protection. Just adding this to my long list of things I have learned from you!

  31. What valuable advice…I am always so disappointed when pumpkins don’t last the season.

  32. Marsha Scott says:

    Really great information about the pumpkins & goards. What a great idea. So much better than the plastic ones from Michael’s too. Love it !!

  33. Deb Porter says:

    Thank you so much for the ideas. I love my home and I love making it look it’s best so I enjoy looking at other homes that are obviously well loved for ideas.

  34. Thanks for the tips, everyone’s photos look awesome!!!

  35. Marguerite says:

    I love all your Fall ideas , perserveing the gourds and pumpkins is great

  36. Love the little tin bucket! Would you mind sharing where you found it?

  37. Hello Ann,
    Love your home style, displays, wreaths & tips which are beautifully photographed. I’ve picked up lots of ideas for my home – I live in Derbyshire, England.

  38. Here in the U.K., pumpkin choice isn’t the greatest to begin with and I’ve yet to see even one white or heirloom specimen! However, I’ve always left buying what we do have it until the last minute, thinking that was best. Now I know to get in early and ready the bath!! Thanks Ann! Sue x

  39. Patricia A Cahill says:

    Hello Ann, How lucky am I to have found your site. Thank you and your kind heart for sharing this elegant and always perfectly done information. I am truly a fan.
    as ever,

  40. Lee Durden says:

    Thanks sooo much for this “pumpkin preserving ” post. I have a garden full of Casperita white pumpkins to decorate with when I get home from Montana & want them to last awhile. U are the Best!

  41. Mary Meusburger says:

    Thank you, Ann, for all the great tips and inspiration. I love your printables and have several frames I use to switch them out with the seasons. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to your posts. I find something special in each one. You are a very talented lady and I admire your sense of style and creativity.

  42. Thanks Ann for the tips. And I wanted to thank you for the recipe cards, as well. I love that stenciled Pail! Did you do that, or did you buy it way?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thanks Nancy…no I didn’t stencil the pail. I bought it that way from Kirkland’s! It is super cute isn’t it?

  43. Thanks for the tips on preserving those beautiful Fall pumpkins & gourds. I love this time of year and all the decorating. But I hate to see things get rotty and yucky. I will be trying your tips this year. Your home and porch is very pretty; always enjoy your posts. Enjoy this beautiful season.

  44. Thanks for the tip Ann.

  45. Cheryl Ann says:

    Thanks so much Ann. It opened on my phone, so the problem is probably on my end. You have the best blog! Blessings my friend…

  46. Thanks for the tip and your table and house looked great in the fall tour.

  47. Nan, Odessa, DE says:

    Thanks for the hints! YOU are the best. I look forward to every post.

    Ann, II there any way we can use your printables for a large framing to hang?
    Is it legal for me to take it to STAPLES for poster printing? Can I have them printed on cardstock as notecards? HELP!
    They are too lovely to print once and forget.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Nan! Yes…it’s legal to print them in any size for personal use. My newer printables have a high resolution so they can be printed larger and still be clear. My older printables are not a high enough resolution. The biggest they can be printed is 8 x 10. Just check the resolution and make sure it’s high enough to print clearly at a larger size. Hope this helps!

  48. Hi Ann,
    Thanks for the pumpkin tip. Here on the coast we have to battle the salt air and humidity, so anything to help them last longer is a good thing.


  49. Susan Cecere says:

    I have always washed pumkins coming into the housed. One year I sprayed a primer coat, and then a metallic silver on top. I had those pumpkins for what seemed like forever on our small front porch.

  50. Sharon Millsap says:

    Painting them with clear floor wax after washing them often preserves them for months, plus it gives them a nice sheen.

  51. Mariann S says:

    Hi Ann. Never thought of Clorox before but I do wash my pumpkins and gourds. After that I spray them with Pam or any oil and rub it in good.This leaves a beautiful shine and it is not greasy. Mine lasts forever it seems. I had one lovely gourd that lasted over a month being outside. Smiles from Tn

  52. Jacque Avant says:

    Thank you so much for this great tip to save your fresh gourds and pumpkins. They are not cheap when you purchase them and now I will buy some. Love the real so much better than the manufactured one.

  53. Thanks for the tip Ann…I always end up with 1 or 2 rotten gourds by the time Halloween rolls around. I will definitely will be trying this. Have a wonderful day!