Tips, tricks to keep your carved pumpkin looking fresh until Halloween

Because there’s nothing spookier than a rotting jack-o’-lantern

ORLANDO, Fla. – There are plenty of things to be scared of on Halloween -- haunted houses, ghosts and goblins -- but for many households here in humidity-filled Central Florida, a molded out smelly pumpkin can give just about anyone the heebie-jeebies.

Good news, though, there are a few tricks and some magical potion ideas that could help slow down the zombie rotting process.

Bottom line, you can’t preserve a pumpkin forever. Once you open it up to the elements, mold and other bacteria will soon take over.

The average lifespan of a carved pumpkin is about a week, if you’re lucky. However, taking a few steps before the rotting starts could help extend the life of your beautiful carved masterpiece.

Step 1

Start by carving the pumpkin correctly. Instead of cutting the hole around the stem, create the opening at the bottom. This will allow extra moisture to exit, instead of staying pooled at the bottom. Also make sure to scrape all the guts out since any leftover pulp will accelerate the rotting process.

Step 2

Prepare your potion. Just keep in mind, if you use an oil or other flammable solution to prevent mold growth, you have to make sure you are not using an actual flame to light the inside of the pumpkin. Instead, check out battery operated lighting or glow sticks that can be found in most stores this time of the year to light up your gourd.

There are a few different mixtures you can choose from to help with preservation.

Bleach-based solution Now is the time to choose whether you want to soak or spray your pumpkin, depending on its size. For a soak, mix 1 tablespoon of bleach per 1 quart of water in a large bucket. Put your pumpkin into the solution and let it soak for about 20 minutes.

For a spray, put the same bleach and water solution into a spray bottle and lather up your pumpkin. Don’t forget to spray along all the freshly cut edges.

Petroleum or vegetable oil Give the inside and outside of your squash a generous coat. Add a little extra along the edges of the pumpkin. This will create a barrier to hold in its moisture while keeping the humidity out.

Rubbing alcohol or floor cleaner Apply generously over the entire pumpkin once you have washed and dried your pumpkin. Not only will it prevent molding, it will also give it a shiny finish.

Hair spray Do you have any cheap hairspray around the house? These sprays can help seal in enough moisture to keep them from drying out and collapsing. One plus of this option is it will also prevent from bugs and rodents from taking a bite out of your jack-o'-lantern.

Final step

Find a spot in your home that won’t dry out the pumpkin quickly. The perfect spot would be someplace cool that doesn’t get direct sunlight.

One other option to prevent a rotting pumpkin is to not carve it at all and just buy some pumpkin seeds. There are plenty of no-carve or painting ideas online that kids of all ages can enjoy.


About the Author:

Candace joined the News 6 team as the weekend morning meteorologist and reporter. She comes to Central Florida from Miami.