Pumpkins are the hallmark of the fall season. As soon as the leaves turn red, all you will hear about is pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin pies. And let’s not forget Halloween, which is just around the corner, isn’t complete without carved pumpkins on display. But before you turn a pumpkin into a tasty treat or spooky ornament, make sure to take protective measures against rot.

Whether you want to preserve carved or uncarved pumpkins, you will find the best remedy here. So, make sure to read this informative guide on how to prevent pumpkins from rotting.

How Long Do Pumpkins Last?

Well, according to NPR, an uncarved and healthy pumpkin can live for 8 to 12 weeks. However, carving the gourd will also cut through its lifespan- reducing it to 5 to 10 days. So, make sure you time your carving activity close to Halloween.

How to Pick the Best Pumpkin?

It is pretty logical to choose a pumpkin that has a higher chance of surviving. A healthy pumpkin is what you need. The best option is a gourd with a firm stem attached. If the handle is weak or rubbery, it will rot quicker. Another tip to keep in mind when carving and displaying the pumpkin, keep the stem connected; it will continue to nourish the plant for a few more days. Now that you have found the perfect pumpkin for your festivities, it is time to preserve it from spoiling.

Preserving Carved Pumpkins

Who doesn’t enjoy carving pumpkins? Jack O‘Lanterns are the staple decoration for your porch in the Halloween season. But, as mentioned earlier, they have a short lifespan. Steps against rotting are taken to extend the life of your pumpkin decoration for as long as possible. Some of the best tricks are listed below:

Wash with Bleach

Before you bust out your carving tools and start contemplating designs, it is best to clean the pumpkin’s surface with a bleach solution. Mix a little bleach and water into a spray bottle and wipe down your gourd. One teaspoon per quart of water is the general rule of thumb. Doing so will remove any microscopic agent that causes rot. Southern Living suggests you spray this mixture after carving as well.

Empty the inside

When you begin the carving process, you generally hollow out the pumpkin. During this process, you must make sure that you thoroughly empty the gourd. There should be no pulp or seed in sight. Use a metal spoon or spatula to scrape out as much as possible. This process reduces the risk of attracting mold to take hold of your jack o’lantern.

Get rid of Moisture

Moisture attracts mold, which leads to a rotten pumpkin. When you finish carving, make sure you dry the cut edges with a paper towel or newspaper. You could also stuff the jack o’lantern with newspaper to reduce dampness.

Cool Down

When you are done carving or don’t need the pumpkin on display, it is best to store it in a cold, dark space. Place your Jack o’lantern in a plastic bag and place it in the fridge. Don’t put it in the freezer, as that will dry up the pumpkin. If you are low on fridge storage, you can store it in your basement or any other colder place. While excess moisture is a magnet for mold, the pumpkin does need to stay hydrated.

Avoid Candles

The time has come to replace actual candles with battery-powered ones. The heat from candles dries out the pumpkin quicker than ideal, which causes it to decay faster. So, no more candles in your jack o’lantern.

Preserving Uncarved Pumpkins

Don’t fancy carving your ornamental pumpkins? No problem, you do you. While uncarved pumpkins last much longer than etched ones, you can take steps to preserve them for an extended time. Below are some steps you can take.

Wipe with Bleach

You can use a bleach solution to wipe the outer surface of the pumpkin to keep microbes at bay. One teaspoon of bleach per quart of water in a spray bottle is all you need, along with a rag. It goes without saying that this tip is only for decorative pumpkins and not ones you plan on eating.

Use Floor Wax

Incredibly, floor wax is a nifty preservative for uncarved pumpkins. After using floor wax, your gourd will stay fresher and look shinier than usual. All you need to do is apply an acrylic-based floor wax onto a spare towel and apply a thin layer on your pumpkin. Again, you can’t eat a pumpkin that receives this treatment.


If floor wax isn’t available, Vaseline is a good option. Layer Vaseline, also called petroleum jelly, on the surface of your pumpkin. This will prevent your gourd from drying. You can also put this to use for carved pumpkins.

White Vinegar

You can also use vinegar to preserve your pumpkin. Just add 2 tablespoons of vinegar per quart of water, and dunk the pumpkin in this solution. You can use this solution on carved pumpkins as well. Be warned: this method is not as effective as using a bleach solution.

Caution: When using bleach, make sure to wear protective gloves and goggles. The chemical is dangerous and this measure is necessary for your safety.


You can take the mentioned measures to preserve your decorative pumpkins for as long as possible. But don’t forget that nature will run its course in the end. It is best to time your pumpkin buying and carving adventures around the event. So, if setting up Jack O’lanterns is your objective, it is best to get started a couple of days before Halloween. We suggest using the bleach solution for increasing your gourds life. But wear protective gloves when handling bleach. Now that you are informed, it’s time to start looking into buying the right pumpkin.

Let us know which tip worked best for you. Do you have a tried and tested method you would like to share? Please share it in the comments below.