Mystery Solved: 5 Tips for Keeping a Carved Pumpkin From Rotting

Make your Halloween masterpiece last all season long.

Related To:

With Halloween just around the corner, pumpkin-carving season is almost here. But we think the biggest challenge every year is exactly how to keep your pumpkins from turning into a moldy, mushy mess before Halloween arrives.



A solitary Jack O' lantern sitting on a dark wooden floor under soft spotlight illumination.

Photo by: Photo: Matej Moderc | Graphic: Erica Reitman

Photo: Matej Moderc | Graphic: Erica Reitman

While there is no way to completely stop your pumpkin from rotting since the process starts as soon as you cut into it, we’re sharing all the steps you need to take to ensure that your pumpkin lasts as long as possible this season.

1: Pick a Healthy Pumpkin

First, make sure that you start with a fresh and healthy pumpkin. Choose a firm pumpkin with no soft spots and its stem in tact. Starting off with a firm pumpkin means that your carved pumpkin has a good chance of lasting longer.

2: Get Rid of All the Guts

Once you open up the pumpkin to carve it, it’s important that you rid the cavity of the guts. You want to make sure that the inside of your pumpkin is as clean and dry as possible, and that can only happen if you ditch all the pumpkin guts and seeds.

3: Use Petroleum Jelly

To extend the life of your carved fruits, rub a thin layer of petroleum jelly on the inside of the pumpkin to reduce mold and slow decay.

4: Refrigerate Your Pumpkin

If you can, refrigerating your pumpkin each night will go a long way in helping to rehydrate your carved pumpkin (and keep it away from any bugs or critters). This is an especially good idea if you live in a warmer climate. If you try the refrigeration method, spray it down with a homemade peppermint spray first, then put the carved pumpkin in a small garbage bag before putting it in the fridge.

5: Soak Your Pumpkin Overnight

Another method for rehydrating your pumpkin and keeping it fresh is to soak it in water overnight. This is a great method to try if you notice that your pumpkin is starting to fade or wilt. You can fill up a bucket or tub, then put your pumpkin inside overnight for a refreshing bath. If you notice an improvement, you can try to do it again in a day or two. Make sure to use cold water, as hot or warm water can speed up the rotting process. Some people also swear by this method; however, instead of water, they use bleach.

Beginner Halloween Pumpkin-Carving Templates

See All Photos

Friendly Robot

Candy + Arrow

Haunted House

Candy Corn Duo

Magic Wand

Graveyard Ghosts

Wolf + Full Moon

Single Candy Corn

Scaredy Cat

Boo Jack-O'-Lantern



Cat and Moon

Sinister Jack-O'-Lantern

Happy Jack-O'-Lantern

Grinning Jack-O'-Lantern

Snaggletooth Jack-O'-Lantern

Man in the Moon


Dotted Jack-O'-Lantern

Pumpkin Nightlight

Keep Reading

Next Up

Tips for a Raised-Bed Vegetable Garden

Raised-bed vegetable gardening takes very little space and allows vegetables to be grown closer together.

How to Plant Bare-Root Vegetables

Discover the best way to plant asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries in your garden.

How to Sow and Plant Fruiting Vegetables

Large leaves, golden flowers and heavy yields make squashes, zucchini and cucumbers ideal plants for productive pots.

5 Quick Tips for Home Office Organization

Is your home office sharing space with the family or living room? Professional organizer Vicki Norris gives tips to help you organize your home office no matter what room it's in.

DIY Cleaning Tips to Keep Your Sofa Looking Brand-New

Don't let pets, kids and red wine ruin your prized possession. We've got at-home cleaning solutions to keep your sofa looking good-as-new.

Paint It Black: Inspiration and Tips for Bold Interior Doors

Bold, black paint can turn even the most basic builder-grade closet doors into architectural statements. See how to make a black door work in your own interior space.

A Fixer Upper Bachelor Pad? Get Chip + Jo's Single-Guy Design Tips

See how the dynamic duo mastered a masculine look for this party of one. (Plus, Jo's tips to get the look!)

Bathroom Cabinet Buying Tips

Consider room size, layout and style when picking cabinetry for your remodel

Meet the Team

Get to know the talented writers and editors of HGTV's show and design blog. 

Go Behind the Blog

From the Archives

Take a look back at our past posts, from entertaining and design trends to up-and-coming HGTV shows.  

Read All Our Past Posts