carved pumpkinCarving a Jack-o’-lantern is a great way to get into the Halloween spirit. Additionally, it’s a fun seasonal tradition, whether you’re sharing it with the kids or decorating the outside of your home. There’s just something exciting about the process, from selecting your pumpkin in the crisp fall air to scooping out the guts and deciding on a face.

What’s less exciting, however, is walking outside a few days after carving your pumpkin to find it’s spotted with pumpkin mold or to see it has it’s collapsed upon itself in a goopy mess. Good news: There is a way to keep your Jack-o’-lantern grinning or grimacing longer. Below, you’ll learn how to preserve a carved pumpkin using materials that you probably already have at home.

How to preserve a carved pumpkin

If you want to keep your Jack-o’-lantern’s grin free of pumpkin mold for more than a day or two, you’ll need to assemble the following pumpkin preservation tools:

  • A five-gallon bucket
  • A bottle of bleach
  • Water
  • An empty gallon jug
  • A measuring teaspoon
  • Plastic gloves
  • Paper towels
  • A spray bottle
  • Your Jack-o’-lantern, of course

Now you’re ready to start the pumpkin preservation process. But before you get started, make sure all those slimy pumpkin strings have been scraped away from both the inside of the pumpkin and the top. Here’s how to preserve a carved pumpkin:

  1. Rinse your pumpkin with water. You’ll want to do this to both the inside and outside. Don’t forget to rinse the top.
  2. Pour three gallons of water into your bucket.
  3. Put your gloves on and use the measuring spoon to add three teaspoons of plain bleach to the water, as suggested by Clorox®.
  4. Gently place your pumpkin and its cap in the bleach solution. Here’s where things get interesting: The pumpkin will float, so you’ll need to lightly dip it down under the surface so that every inch of it gets coated with the bleach mixture. Do this for about two minutes.
  5. After at least two minutes, take the pumpkin out of the bleach solution and set it on paper towels to dry.
  6. Fill a spray bottle with some of the remaining bleach and water mixture and label the spray bottle that. You can also make a fresh batch if you prefer. You’ll see why you need this later.
  7. Dispose of the bleach solution by pouring it down the drain, and toss out your gloves.

If you went all out and got a gigantic gourd, you may have to find a bigger basin to soak your pumpkin in. You’ll also need to adjust the amount of bleach solution you use for pumpkin preservation. Just follow the one teaspoon of bleach to one gallon of water ratio, and you should be good.

How does pumpkin preservation with bleach work?

The bleach solution should slow down the rate at which pumpkin mold grows. To further stave off pumpkin mold, you can mist your Jack-o’-lantern—inside and out—with the mixture in your spray bottle every two days or so.

Keep in mind, though, that while this pumpkin preservation method can prolong the life of your Jack-o’-lantern or other pumpkin decorations, it doesn’t make them last forever. You still may find your pumpkin getting moldy or looking saggy after a week or so, depending on what the climate is like where you live.

Interested in more ways to make it feel like autumn in your home? Take a look at these DIY recipes for some amazing fall fragrances that can have your house smelling like an autumn wonderland.