Drying and cleaning gourds for for painting or crafting projects is easy to do yourself at home if you follow a few simple steps.
Dried gourds are a wonderful creative project for kids. From painting smaller gourds as ornaments to using larger gourds as birdhouses. Thankfully we have a gourd farm in our area that we can visit and buy dried gourds. It’s such a fun experience to go out there with the kids and pick from an array of varieties.
Dried gourds make incredible projects for people of all ages. But before the project begins the dried gourds be cleaned and prepped for paint.
As the Gourd Dries
Gourds are left on the vine after the stem and surrounding leaves begin to turn brown. At that time, you can take it off the vine, and give it a wipe down with a damp cloth. Allow it to sit in an open area for several months to a year.
As the gourd dries during that time, it will start to appear gross on the outside. That’s ok and completely normal. If it is not soft, leave it alone — they will turn moldy and discolor, maybe even peel. That’s all part of the drying process.
Once the gourd is completely dry, you can prepare the gourd by cleaning it before you begin your craft project.
How to Clean Gourds
The easiest way to clean dried gourds is to gather them up in a small kiddie pool (or, large kitchen sink). Add a little bleach, and grab a good scrubbie. It’s not a fun job, but I consider it to be a great stress reliever.
I usually clean gourds in my large kitchen sink if I have 5 or less. Anything more than that and I throw them in the kiddie pool in the backyard to soak.
If you are using a kiddie pool, fill it with water and a few cups of bleach or bleach alternative. Allow them to sit for 15-20 minutes, then get to work scrubbing. Throw on some gloves and use your steel wool scrubbie to work away.
If you are using a kitchen sink, fill the sink with water and a half cup of bleach. Throw the gourds in and allow them to soak for 10-15 minutes. Since they won’t entirely submerge, it’s helpful to throw a wet towel on top of them to weigh them down. After you have given them time to soak, use the back of a large cereal spoon or a metal scrubbie to scrub them until they are clean.
Steps to cleaning a dried gourd:
- Soak that gourd in water with a few cups of hydrogen peroxide or bleach for 20-30 minutes. You may need to submerge them by laying a wet towel on top of them to hold them under.
- Put on gloves and a face mask.
Scrub the gourds to remove the skin (use the back of a huge cereal spoon or a wire mesh scrubbie)
- Scrape off stubborn mold
- Dry the gourd, then sand off any leftover skin
After they are clean
Once your gourds are clean, keep them outside until they are good and dry. Only when they are dry can you begin your project – whether painting or using as a birdhouse, or wood working project.
Dried gourds are wonderful for painting projects. Should you want to paint your dried gourds, consider spraying them down with a water based primer first — to prevent bleed-through. Lowe’s and Home Depot offer several different varieties (Kilz is great if you can spot it at your store).
If you are considering leaving your artwork outside (birdhouse perhaps), consider four coats of sealer. A sealer will ensure durability during the hot summer months and wintery winters.
If you don’t grow your own gourds, then you can typically find them already cleaned at a local gourd farm. There are lots of gourd farms across the U.S. — many of them offer free or low cost shipping on gourds that have already been cleaned.