We tested the best way to keep Halloween pumpkins from rotting

SPOKANE, Wash.– A quick internet search will come up with a lot of ways to keep your jack-o’-lantern from rotting away before Halloween.  4 News Now decided to put some of the most common ones to the test. This October we carved five pumpkins and treated four of them with easy-to-do solutions found on the internet. The fifth pumpkin was carved for comparison to the others.

Here’s what we did:

  1. Keeping the stem connected to the rind (cutting out the bottom instead of the top)
  2. Treatment with bleach
  3. Treatment with apple cider vinegar
  4. Covering the cuts in the rind with petroleum jelly

There were other methods we considered, like treating the pumpkin with WD40 (flammable) or putting the pumpkin in the fridge or an ice bath during the day. Let’s be honest though, who has time for that? These methods are more of the set it and forget it style.

The pumpkins were left outside the KXLY studios for 11 days in a covered, shaded area. The insides were also carved out to be as gut-free as possible. The guts and additional sunlight can all contribute to pumpkins rotting faster. All of that said, here’s the before and after during our 11-day experiment.


Before Photo: treating pumpkin carvings so they rot slower

copyright 4 News Now



after photo: treating pumpkin carvings so they rot slower

copyright 4 News Now

The only two pumpkins to not become rotten with mold were the ones treated with petroleum jelly and bleach. Apple cider vinegar fared slightly better than the untreated pumpkins and had less mold overall than the untreated top-cut and bottom-cut pumpkins. As far as determining a winner, the pumpkin treated with petroleum jelly did maintain a brighter orange color than the bleached one. However, everything else about the condition of these two finalists was equal.

Considering bleach is more harmful to animals than vaseline, that might be a deciding factor for many people. The one thing this experiment did answer is clear: Doing something is better than doing nothing when it comes to pumpkin preservation.

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