Extend The Life Of Your Carved Pumpkins With This Simple Paint Hack

Pumpkins are a classic decorative motif for both Halloween and throughout the entire fall season. However, pumpkins don't always have the lifespan we want them to. What starts as a festive touch on your front porch can quickly become a pile of rotting mush. This is especially true if you carve your pumpkins, exposing the insides to the external environment and increasing the rate of decay. Fortunately, there's an effective hack to keep your pumpkins looking fresh for many weeks, including your carved Jack-o-lanterns: use clear spray paint. With some careful preparation and a coat of clear spray paint, you can easily protect your pumpkins from the rotting effects of mold and bacteria. 

You really only need one item to pull off this reliable autumnal decor trick (other than your pumpkin, that is). Clear spray paint is readily available online and at in-person home improvement retailers. One popular clear spray paint is the Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch Matte Clear General Purpose Spray Paint, sold at Home Depot – 12-ounce cans typically cost under $7. The matte finish will give your pumpkins a very natural look and make it appear as if there's no paint on them at all, but if you want a more unique aesthetic, you can use the glossy finish version and give your pumpkins a hint of shine. After you carve or decorate your pumpkin, cover it in a protective layer of paint to keep it fresh for the season. 

How to preserve a pumpkin with clear paint

Start by preparing your workspace. If you have just finished carving your pumpkin, you probably already have an area prepared. Covering your space with newspapers or an old sheet will make your spray paint project a breeze. However, if you're inside, you should move the work area outside so that you don't inhale the paint fumes. Additionally, you may also want to wear a protective mask if you're sensitive to the smell. 

Before you begin painting, check the pumpkin stem for decaying areas and trim off anything that's already starting to rot. Then, holding the spray paint can several inches away from the pumpkin, begin applying a coat of paint to the surface, thoroughly covering every section of the outside. If the pumpkin is hollowed out and carved, spray the insides as well. The point is to create a fully-sealed coat that keeps out mold and bacteria, so be generous with adding extra layers of paint (it's clear, so it won't affect the appearance). 

Once the paint is dry, you can put the carved pumpkin out for display. However, don't use real-flame candles inside your jack-o-lantern, as spray paint is flammable. If you plan on leaving the pumpkin out for a long time, you may need to do the occasional touch-up with spray paint on any problem areas. And it's that easy — with a few sprays of clear paint, your pumpkin's lifespan will be significantly extended.