Cleaning and storing clay flower pots

Clay (terracotta) flower pots can crack if left out in cold winter temperatures, so fall is the time to bid adieu to annual plants and clean the pots for winter storage. 

Step 1

Dump the contents of the flower pot. Toss the fading plant and the potting soil into the compost pile. Hose out the inside of the pot.

Step 2

Use a stiff brush to remove any deposits clinging to the pot or dirt that did not rinse off. Any type of stiff brush will do, like the kind you use for general purpose floor scrubbing or a dish scrub brush. You just need to be able to apply pressure on the brush as you scrub the flower pot.

Step 3

Use bleach to sterile the flower pot. Dress accordingly; splashed bleach will leave spots on clothing. Select a work area, like the driveway or bathtub.

Option 1: Choose a bucket or other container large enough to hold the flower pot. Fill the container two-thirds full of water. The temperature of the water does not matter. Pour in one-half cup bleach. Wearing rubber gloves to protect your hands, dip the scrubbed pot into the bleach-water solution. Immediately remove the pot from the water, rinse and then turn upside-down to drain, preferably on something that will elevate the pots off the ground, like rake and shovel handles laid parallel on the ground (the tool handles will appreciate the sterilizing aspect of the bleach too).

Option 2: Alternatively, you can mix one part bleach to 10 parts water in a plastic spray bottle and spray the flower pots, or you can dip the brush in the bleach bucket solution to go over the clay pot.

Step 4

Store the dry clay pots indoors, like in the basement or garage, to avoid freezing temperatures that might crack the pots. If you have many clay flower pots and need to stack them for space conservation, then put something between each pot to keep them separated. Folded cardboard, rolled-up newspaper or Styrofoam peanuts will work well. The objective is to stack the flower pots in a fashion where you can easily get them apart and where they don’t chip from pots hitting together as they are stacked. Stack the pots upside-down.

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Picture courtesy of Acradenia/