How To Clean Terracotta Pots

It is important to clean terracotta pots, if they aren’t cleaned somewhat regularly you run the risk of fungus and mold growing on the pot and if this is allowed to happen it may cause damage to your plants or even your family.

Cleaning terracotta pots is easy, you can remove most mold, fungus and white residue by cleaning with steel wool or a wire brush. To perform a deeper clean on your pots you can soak them in a commercial cleaner link bleach or choose to use more natural solutions such as vinegar.

Why does mold grow on terracotta pots?

Mold and fungus grows on terracotta pots because water can get trapped in the pot itself. This provides a place for mold to grow. Also the pores within the pot can hold fungus that is transferred from soils or other plants, if pots are not cleaned thoroughly between uses any infected soil may stay in those pores and go on infect any new soil you put in them.

How to remove white powder from terracotta pots

You can spot clean your pots by spraying the terracotta pots with hydrogen peroxide and remove the white crust with a toothbrush or fine steel wool. To prevent white residue, repeat the process occasionally. You can also reduce watering and place the pot in direct sunlight to help combat this problem.

Sometimes this solution isn’t enough and you will need to deep clean your pots to get them back to a useable state. There are several methods you can use to do this, we cover some below. The good thing about deep cleaning your pots is it does more than just remove the white powder, it will also remove any mold or fungus which has started to grow. It is ideal to do this deep cleaning process once a year to stop things from getting out of control and leaving you with no option but to dispose of the pot.

How to deep clean terracotta pots

Terracotta pots can provide a healthy environment for plants but they need to be correctly cleaned and maintained to continue to do so. Plants will have a hard time thriving if the pot their grown in is dirty or infected with fungus that can harm the plant. It is a good idea to sterilize the pots at the end of each season to reduce the threat of spreading fungus or mold that can infect new plants and damage the pots. You shouldn’t need to clean your pots regularly unless you see white residue gathering on the outside of the pot or black fungus or mold forming. When you see either of these signs you know it is time to get to work and clean your pots.

When you plant in terracotta pots, after some time, you will notice the white residue starts appearing on the outside of pots. This is because the terracotta begins to absorb the minerals in the soil. The hard white crust also builds up from hard or salty water deposits, this process causes the discoloration on the pot surface.

The white residue is not toxic or harmful to plants, but you should remove it as it can serve as a host for fungus, pests, or diseases. Spray the terracotta pot with hydrogen peroxide and remove the white crust with a toothbrush or fine steel wool. To prevent white residue, repeat the process occasionally. You can also reduce watering and place the pot in direct sunlight to help combat this problem.

Deep cleaning terracotta pots
The first thing you need to do when deep cleaning your pots is to remove the plant, let the residual soil that is left on the roots dry and then brush it off. The reason why we do this is because if the soil itself is infected you don’t want that fungus transferring to the next batch of soil. You will then need to get a stiff cleaning brush and remove all the dirt from the outside and inside of the pot. Once these steps are done you’ll be ready to disinfect the pot.

There are several methods that can be used to deep clean terracotta pots, we’ll run through some of them here for you in this article.

Cleaning terracotta pots with vinegar
Mix 1 part vinegar by volume to 3 parts water in a bucket big enough to completely submerge your pot. You can use regular white vinegar or cleaning vinegar. The cleaning vinegar has a higher percentage of acidity, which will help to break up the crusty build-up.

Next, soak the terracotta pots entirely in the vinegar solution for 30 minutes. This will begin to loosen particles lodged in the pores and disinfect the pot. Once finished soaking, use the pot brush to remove any residue that has been loosened up and dispose of it. Leave your pot in the sun to dry and after a couple of hours you will have a nice clean pot to replant whatever you like.

Cleaning terracotta pots with bleach
Another approach follows the same procedure but uses bleach instead of white vinegar. But be careful as bleach can damage the terracotta pots and as a much harsher substance it is important to take more care with making sure all chemicals are removed before repotting.

Use a ratio of 1:10 for bleach and water. Soak the pots in the mixture for 30 minutes. Soaking it in bleach will remove any fungus or dirt layers on the pot and begin disinfecting the pot.

Now use a baking soda and water mixture to complete the cleaning process. Create a paste using both and rub it on the pot with a toothbrush or any stiff brush with can remove any stuck on bits of dirt or fungus.

Finally, rub the pot with dish soap and water to get rid of any remaining bacteria or chemicals. Rinse thoroughly, this is extremely important as you want to make sure all the bleach has been removed from the pot. When drying your pot make sure to place it in in open-air for a few days. It allows the pot to completely dry and get rid of the leftover chemicals which could possibly do harm to your plants.

If you are going to store the cleaned pots for future use, place them in a garage, shed, or any other area that stays dry and above freezing.

So now you know much more about how to clean terracotta pots. It is a little bit of work to keep them looking good while also keeping them mold-free, fungus-free and stress-free!

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