How long does a carved or uncarved pumpkin last?

These are the timings you need to know about this fall – and the tips experts use to preserve the fruit around Halloween

Basket of assorted pumpkins and squashes
(Image credit: Clare Gainey / Alamy Stock Photo)

How long does a carved or uncarved pumpkin last? It is inevitable that you will hear this question asked more frequently at this point in the year. The season of pumpkin carving ideas and pumpkin-spiced everything is here – but with this fruit comes the concern of its lifespan. 

Whether your fall decor ideas include playful carvings – or you're looking for an uncarved finish (on your mantelpiece or tablescape) – all pumpkins are sadly subject to natural rotting. And while uncarved pumpkins do last longer than their carved counterparts, it is still necessary to plan to avoid an eroded staple piece before your Halloween festivities. 

How long does a carved or uncarved pumpkin last? 

'Carved pumpkins have quite a short shelf life, especially if you live in a warmer climate. They will typically begin decomposing within a week of being carved and left out of the fridge,' warns Jenna Moran, the founder and creative director of Whimsy and Spice. However, in some cases, they will only survive as little as three days. 

Fall Craft

(Image credit: Future)

Uncarved pumpkins can survive for much longer. In many cases, they last for at least 10-12 weeks, meaning you can likely use your pumpkins beyond Halloween decor

If you're wondering, 'what can I do with uncarved pumpkins?' after your celebrations, there are several uses for you to try. For a tasty kitchen garden idea, Jenna also recommends reincorporating pumpkin and squash recipes beyond pumpkin pie into your Thanksgiving meal: 'slice it open, remove the orange flesh, and use this to create a delicious pumpkin pie,' she says.

How do you keep carved pumpkins from rotting?

In the days before Halloween, you may be wondering about the best time to carve – and the easiest ways to preserve its life.

spider web pumpkin

(Image credit: Alamy)

Before cutting, Alexandra Rae Molumby, the founder of Harvest Joy, recommends cleaning the fruit with soap and water and using a veggie brush [such as this one on Amazon] to clean off any dirt. 

'As soon as you cut into the pumpkin, it speeds up the decomposing process. Cleaning it cuts down on the number of bacteria that eventually lead to molding,' Alexandra says.  

After carving your pumpkin, the expert suggests mixing one tablespoon of castile soap [like this one] with one cup of water in a spray bottle. Then spray the inside and cut parts of your pumpkin with the solution before drying with a paper towel. 

Finally, 'pour olive oil into a bowl and use a paintbrush to paint the olive oil onto the inside and cut parts of your pumpkin,' Alexandra explains. This method should encourage your pumpkin to last slightly longer around your Halloween celebrations. 


(Image credit: Future)

How do you prolong carved pumpkin life?

The method above is often an effective way of keeping your pumpkin alive. However,  horticulturist and botanical designer Nathan Heinrich offers another method that could make your carved pumpkins 'last for up to a month.'

To do so, you should mix one tablespoon of bleach with one gallon of water and pour the solution into a spray bottle before spraying it inside your carved pumpkins. You can swap bleach for white vinegar, but it's slightly less effective.

'Once your bleach spray has dried, pray olive oil or cooking spray on the inside of your pumpkin and let dry in the sun for an hour,' Nathan says. 'Repeating this technique weekly will keep your carved pumpkins looking fresh by preventing mold and rot while keeping them hydrated.'

How do you keep uncarved pumpkins from rotting?

Keeping your uncarved pumpkins from rotting involves quite the opposite. 'Instead of washing, Alexandra urges you to keep a 'dirt' layer over your uncarved pumpkin.

Collection of gourds and pumpkins in a garden

(Image credit: GettyImages)

'To preserve your uncarved pumpkin, do not clean it,' she says. 'The dirt is a layer that protects uncarved pumpkins from bacteria. Exposing it to water speeds up the decomposing process.' It is also a good idea to keep it out of direct sunlight and away from water exposure. 

Does Hairspray keep pumpkins from rotting?

Yes, solutions such as hairspray and vinegar can help the carved pumpkin last a bit longer. 

'Hairspray is known for keeping away bugs, but you can't do much with the pumpkin after that,' explains Carl from Sweet New Earth. Meanwhile, vinegar is going to keep away mold 'for both carved and uncarved pumpkins.'

Therefore, whether you're looking for traditional, carved Halloween decor – or easy no-carve pumpkin ideas, hairspray could come in handy this season. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.