How to Make Pumpkins Last Longer {Preserving Jack O’ Lanterns}

Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns are lit at night
I know some of you might be carving pumpkins this weekend- we just did this today with our Girl Scout troop.
I thought I would put together a little list of tips you might try to help preserve your pumpkins.  Hopefully one of these options will work for you to keep that hard work looking great through Halloween.
  • Soak pumpkin in water 1-2 hours.  You can also add 1 teaspoon bleach per gallon of water. You can omit the bleach but the results won’t last quite a long.
  • Brush Vinegar and Lemon Juice on the outside of pumpkin (add 2 tablespoons white vinegar and 1 teaspoon lemon juice to a quart of water).
  • Rub petroleum jelly on the inside and carved parts of pumpkin. This is supposed to keep the insides from drying out and changing its shape.  This is a great option for smaller pumpkins.  Just lightly rub the petroleum jelly on it shouldn’t be a thick coating.
  • Coat the inside with white glue or vegetable oil to prevent shriveling.
  • Small packets of silica gel (that come with shoes and such) can be placed inside a carved pumpkin to help keep it dry and mold free.
  • Keep out of direct sunlight and move to basement, garage or other cool area if it’s going to be very warm.
  • Use a battery operated candle if you plan on lighting up your pumpkin more than once.  Heat shortens the life of a pumpkin.
Happy Carving!


  1. Jill says

    Any tips to keep the squirrels from eating the pumpkins? Last year I even brushed hot sauce all over ours and that didn’t deter them one bit. Thanks in advance for any ideas.

  2. Christine says

    Jill, Maybe spray with Bitter Apple (it’s a spray that they sell at pet stores to deter dogs from chewing)? I haven’t tried it, but it might help.

  3. Ashley says

    I feel the need to point out that silica packets should not be placed where pets can reach them, they are poisonous!

  4. Tipster says

    Re: squirrels – fox urine – sounds gross, but they’re one of few natural predators, so it works – for whatever you need to keep a squirrel out of… flowers, attics, etc. Get it from your local gun/hunting store.

  5. Jeanie says

    I rub Murphy’s Oil on mine. Gives it a nice shine and keeps squirrels away.


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