Preserve Carved Pumpkins

You’ve spent hours carefully carving and crafting your pumpkins, and now await the doom of their inevitable decay. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Did you know?

In 2017, farmers in the top 16 pumpkin-producing States harvested 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins, implying about 2 billion pounds harvested altogether in the United States. (per

With Halloween upon us, and the nation shelling out $5-50 for a share of those 2 billion+ pounds of pumpkin, we’ve explored some tips and tricks for helping your jack-o-lanterns save face.

Sure, you can switch things up and not cut the top off or carve your pumpkin. The painting trend is a strong one, but isn’t the old-fashioned fun of carving and seed harvesting more fun?

Most of our suggestions rely upon commonly used household items, and others may require a visit to the hardware or corner store. All, however, will provide the hydration and protection necessary for helping them survive for the big day (or night!).

1. Cut a Hole in the Back or Bottom

Yes, it’s different but it’s science.

Think of tomatoes; the longer they remain on the vine the better they look and taste. Keeping the stem of your pumpkin in tact and allowing water to trickle downward and not collect at the bottom will hinder the decaying process.

And, plus, you can still harvest seeds and place the candle inside your creation to illuminate the jack-o-lantern as you normally would.

2. Bleach Soak

This should be pretty easy to understand. The same solution we use to kill bacteria in our homes can be used to remove/repel the sodium hypochlorite that leads to decay of your pumpkins.

Once you completely cleaned out your pumpkin (No guts or seeds whatsoever! The cleaner the pumpkin, the better.) and have carved your design, you will want to mix 1 tablespoon of bleach per quart of water and soak the pumpkins for 2-10 minutes depending on how many you’re doing at a time. Use gloves when mixing the solution and placing/removing the pumpkins.

When you’re done, remove and begin drying inside and outside with a towel. You want to ensure the pumpkin is very dry, and do not want to keep spraying with bleach solution after a soak assuming it will be doing the process a favor.


Do NOT use heat such as a blow dryer or outdoors/elements to dry as both will expedite the decay process.

3. Vaseline, WD-40, & Vegetable Oil, oh my!

All — or none — may be immediately available at your house. Yet all can be easily acquired and will provide the support you need to make the pumpkins last.

Vaseline, otherwise known as petroleum jelly, is water-repellent so it seals in natural moisture while keeping outside moisture away. Spread inside and around the carved edges of your pumpkin and apply as needed up until Halloween.


Coincidentally enough, WD-40 is made from the same stuff as Vaseline (Mineral-oil) and is just as effective.


WD-40 is flammable (Surprise!). Perhaps waiting 24 hours after you’ve doused the pumpkin before placing a candle anywhere near it would be wise…

And last, but not least, take a look at your vegetable/olive oil ( or any cooking oils really!) when considering ways to trap the moisture in your pumpkins. The science behind their effectiveness is their occlusive agency, meaning: they keep water within the item you’re placing it upon.

As with the other agents, we suggest wearing gloves to make application and clean up an easy process.

Do you know something we don’t know?

Share below in the comments section so others can bask in your genius.

Looking to turn your pumpkin carving fun into an event or fundraiser? We have tips for that too