How to Clean Plant Pots


Spruce up your planting containers with a good scrubbing and your plants will thank you, as they will not only look better in their clean pots, but will be healthier, too. Pre-used pots can carry bacteria and disease that can easily be passed along to the new plants, according to Iowa State University Extension. Cleaning pots can be done any time, but is an especially good activity for late winter when your green thumb begins to itch. Cleaning plant pots between each use only take a few minutes of effort, but can make all the difference for the health of your plants.

Step 1

Place the pot in a bucket filled with one part household bleach combined with nine parts water. Allow the pot to soak in the bleach solution for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Leave the pot in the solution overnight if it is stained or has heavy mineral deposits.

Step 2

Place the pot in the kitchen sink and scrub it with dish detergent and warm water. Scrub terracotta or clay pots with a wire brush or steel wool to remove salt stains and mineral deposits. Scrape off large deposits with a knife or a putty knife. Clean plastic pots with a scouring pad.

Step 3

Rinse the pot thoroughly. Be sure all traces of bleach and detergent are removed. Allow the pot to dry on a dish rack or wire rack before planting. Remove any remaining stains with steel wool.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Bleach solution
  • Dish detergent
  • Wire brush or steel wool for clay or terracotta pots
  • Scouring pad for plastic pots
  • Knife or putty knife
  • Dish rack


  • Iowa State University: Cleaning and Disinfecting Plant Containers
  • Learn2Grow: Prepping Pots for Planting
Keywords: clean plant pots, clean plant containers, clean flower pots

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.