5 Ways To Make Your Halloween Jack-O-Lantern Last Longer

Nothing is more un-festive than a sagging, rotting Halloween pumpkin on your front porch. Try these easy tips to help prolong your Jack-O-Lantern's life.

Nothing is more unfestive than a sagging, rotting Jack-O-Lantern on your front porch. To be sure your Trick-or-Treaters enjoy your pumpkin artwork through Halloween, we’ve put together some of the best tips to help prolong Jack’s life just a bit longer.

First, try not to carve too early. The pumpkin is a fruit, and once it has been carved, it’s exposed to air and will accelerate the decaying process.

So, wait as long as you can, especially if you live in high-humidity regions.

Additionally, be sure that your pumpkin is fully cleaned of the “guts” and seeds. Scrape the interior walls as thoroughly as possible to remove all stringy material. The cleaner the pumpkin, the slower it will decay.

5 Tips To Keep Your Jack-O-Lantern Fresher Longer

After you’ve cleaned and carved your pumpkin:

  1. Fill a spray bottle with a solution of one tablespoon bleach per quart of water. Spray interior and cut surfaces liberally, allowing it to penetrate and dry. This formula is said to kill off surface bacteria and mold that can lead to rot.
  2. Another method is to lightly spray the cut interior with a solution of 1 tablespoon peppermint Castile soap in a quart of water. Peppermint is a natural anti-fungal and will slow the decaying processing. (Use either spray method #1 or #2, not both).
  3. Apply petroleum jelly or olive oil to the cut surfaces to prevent dehydration over time.
  4. Spraying the cut surfaces with hairspray can also slow down the decaying process. Products designed for anti-humidity work really well.
  5. Instead of cutting the stem out of the top of the pumpkin to be carved, cut the hole on the bottom of the pumpkin and remove the piece. Then simply place the clean, carved pumpkin on top of a candle or solar light. This method not only makes for easier candle lighting but allows moisture to escape rather than pool at the bottom of the pumpkin, which accelerates the rotting process (however, see bonus, tip, below).
  6. Bonus: You can also cut a circular hole at the back (save the piece). Make it large enough so you can clean out and carve your design, then simply insert a candle or solar light through the hole (replace the piece with a toothpick). Removing the top cuts off nutrients to the fruit so it will dry out faster, and cutting the bottom can make a mess as pumpkins give off a lot of water once cut.

Freelance writer Beth Herman was consulted for this story.

Keep Learning

Halloween: Spooky History, Legends, And Recipes

How To Create A Pumpkin Bird Feeder

16 Little-Known Pumpkin Facts

Join The Discussion!

Will you be carving a pumpkin this year?

Do you know any creative tips for carving or preserving your Jack-o-lantern?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Sharon Bush

Or Just wait to get a pumpkin the day of Halloween or don’t Carve it til Hallowen Morning or @ days before. So You don’t worry about doing all that cleaning.

Aloha Martin

Don’t carve the Pumpkin….use colored markers & apply paper products for hair etc.

Randy Mast

Another way to keep your pumpkin from rotting . When my girls were little we had to carve pumpkins 2weeks before the big night . During day light hours i would fill either the tub or kitchen sink depending on size of jack O lantern with water and let it sit intil time to put them outside to show everybody.


My parents thought buying a pumpkin to carve into a Jack o’ Lantern was a waste of money when I was a child. Thankfulky, my wife and I thought differently while our children were growing up. ??


Thanks for the tips! I think I will try the olive oil since I use all the pumpkin except the skin for baking.


White vinegar rubbed on the pumpkin, hairspray and a fake owl nearby worked well for me.


Could I not just have the fake owl? I feel that will be enough.


Any natural suggestions to keep the squirrels from eating the pumpkins?

Susan Higgins

Hi Laurie, this might help: bring the Jack-O-Lanterns in at night, in as cool a place as you can find (a garage perhaps?). Chris’s comment is also a good idea: keep a fake owl (we sell them here: https://store.farmersalmanac.com/FARM/product-categories/patio-garden/pest-control

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