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How to Clean Deposits From Flower Pots

By Nannette Richford ; Updated September 21, 2017
Minerals from hard water build up on plant pots.
plant pots image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com

If you water your plants with tap water that contains high levels of minerals (referred to as “hard water”) you have probably noticed a white, cloudy or crusty discoloration on your plant pots. This discoloration is a buildup of minerals from the water. Although a few mineral deposits on the plant pot won’t hurt your plant, it does detract from its beauty. Removing the deposits is relatively simple and can be accomplished in an afternoon.

Remove plants and soil from the pot. Rinse away soil residue with plain water.

Fill a bowl or bucket with equal parts white vinegar and water. Submerge the pot into the mixture and allow it to soak for one hour.

Remove the pot and scrub the deposit with an old toothbrush or kitchen cleaning pad. An old electric toothbrush works well as the circular motion lifts the residue free of the surface of the pot.

Soak the pot, if residue resists, in a bath of three parts vinegar to one part water or saturate a cloth with white vinegar, place it over the stubborn area, and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Scrub to lift the mineral deposits from the pot.

Rinse the pot with water and wipe the surface with a soft cloth to remove any remaining residue.


Things You Will Need

  • Water
  • Bowl or bucket
  • White vinegar
  • Toothbrush or kitchen cleaning pad
  • Soft cloth


  • Soak terra cotta or clay pots in water before using the vinegar solution to prevent the pot from absorbing the vinegar. Soak in plain water after treating to leach away any lingering vinegar from the pot.


  • Clean pots that may be damaged by vinegar (like marble) with hot soapy water and a scrub brush.

About the Author


Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.