When you plant in terracotta pots, after some time, you will notice the white powder starts appearing on the outside of pots. This is because the terracotta begins to absorb the minerals in the soil and it settles on the exterior of the pots. The hard white crust can also build up from hard or salty water deposits, this process causes the discoloration on the pot surface.
Is white power on terracotta pots toxic?
The white powder is not toxic or harmful to plants or people, but you should remove it as it can serve as a host for fungus, pests, or diseases so it is important to remove this residue when you can to prevent worse issues from happening.
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.
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.
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 all about the white powder which forms on your terracotta pots and know it isn’t too scary! It is easy to clean and is completely normal. You can enjoy your gorgeous terracotta pots now knowing a little bit more about them!