How to preserve that perfectly carved pumpkin

By Gina Colonette

You've just spent hours carving a freshly-picked pumpkin to perfection. How do you lengthen the life of your prized jack-o-lantern to keep it from shriveling up before Halloween? Try these tips using household products you already have.

Tip 1: Kill Bacteria and Mold

  • Clean the exterior and interior of the pumpkin to help prevent mold from forming
  • Create a bleach solution using one tablespoon of bleach per quart of water
  • Spray the solution on the interior and on all cut out areas
  • Let it dry for 20 minutes

Tip 2: Keep From Drying Out

Tip 3: Preserve Uncarved Pumpkins

  • Keep uncarved pumpkins fresh longer by spraying WD-40 on the surface. Carved pumpkins can reap the benefits too!

Tip 4: Say Bye, Bye to Rodents

  • Hairspray, acrylic finish spray and Tabasco sauce mixed with petroleum jelly can act as a repellent to keep pesky pumpkin-eating critters away

Tip 5: A Few Don'ts and a Do

  • Don’t start carving too far in advance of Halloween
  • Don't keep your pumkin in the sun or rain
  • Don't freeze the pumpkin. It'll just get mushy 
  • Do give your pumpkin a bath for a few hours if it begins to shrivel. Super-shriveled Jacks may need to be soaked overnight.

You can also try using Pumpkin Fresh, a specially formulated spray to keep pumpkins from decaying. Keep in mind pumpkins are fresh fruits, so treat them that way. When it's not on display, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate, says Marc Evan, of Maniac Pumpkin Carvers.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.