How to Clean Terra Cotta Planters


Terra cotta planters are a gardener's favorite, as they are a heavier material that can help prevent plants, especially larger ones, from tipping over if they become top heavy. They are also absorbent, which can help regulate the moisture content of the soil. However, it is terra cotta's absorbent properties that can cause it to absorb minerals, and even contaminants, from the soil, which can stain the pots and possibly damage the plant. Each year you should follow a few simple steps and clean your terra cotta planters before using them.

Step 1

Fill the 5-gallon pail with 1/2 gallon of bleach, and 4 1/2 gallons of warm water.

Step 2

Set the terra cotta planters down into the water so that they are completely submerged.

Step 3

Allow the planters to soak for 24 hours.

Step 4

Take the wire brush and gently scrub the inside of the planter, as well as the outside of the planter and the bottom side of the planter. Once the planter has been scrubbed, set it aside. Continue this process until you have scrubbed all of the planters.

Step 5

Empty the bleach water out of the pail, and rinse it out. Fill the pail with clean, lukewarm water, and place the planters back in it. Allow them to sit in the clean water for 24 hours. This will help make sure the bleach fully rinses out of the planters.

Step 6

Remove the planters from the pail of water, and give a final rinse under running water. Use as desired.

Tips and Warnings

  • If the bleach is not fully rinsed off and out of the planter, it can cause damage to the roots of the plant that are placed in the planter.

Things You'll Need

  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Bleach
  • Wire brush
  • Water


  • Irish Gardeners: How To Clean Terra Cotta Pots
Keywords: cleaning terra cotta planters, terra cotta planters, soak terra cotta planters

About this Author

A freelance writer for over 12 years, Traci Vandermark has written extensively on health and fitness topics. She is a student of health, fitness and nutrition at the International Institute Of Holistic Healing, certified by the American Association of Nutritional Consultants. Her articles have appeared in Catskill Country Magazine, The Lookout Magazine, Capper's, Birds and Blooms and Country Discoveries, to name a few.