How to Sterilize Plant Pots Without Bleach?

how to steralize pots without bleach

If you think gardening is all about decorating pots with adorable plants and enjoying the flowers and fruits, then you are wrong. It requires a lot of effort to keep your plants blooming and healthy.

Like we clean our home and disinfect the place, it is equally essential to sterilize pots because that’s where the plants are growing. But the question is, how do we do that?

In this article, I will share some helpful hacks to disinfect pots, and if you want to know how to sterilize pots without bleach, I’ll share that as well. So, without waiting anymore, let’s learn about this tricky but essential task of clean plant containers.

How to Sterilize Plant Pots Without Bleach?

Plant pots can be sterilized using a number of methods, including vinegar, heat, hydrogen peroxide, or by using star san (brewers sterilization formula).  Any of these models will work, read on for more details.

I appreciate your idea if you have old pots at your place and plan to reuse them. Instead of buying new ones, it is always intelligent to utilize old containers for growing new plants.

If the old plant had some disease, it would transfer to the new plant. Moreover, the soil is the primary source that catches bacteria that can infect the new plant. So, it is essential to clean the pot thoroughly and discard the old soil before using the container for growing new plants.

The best disinfectant for cleaning old pots is bleach. But it’s a harsh chemical, and you might not be interested in using it often. So, here are a few ways you can use and see how to sterilize pots without bleach.

Things to Keep in Mind 

These natural cleaning hacks are affordable and straightforward. Thus, you can easily apply these for sterilizing the dirty pots. But before you choose any of these methods, make sure to analyze the material of the pot and select the sterilizing plan that suits the material.

First, you need to remove the dirt and debris physically from the pot. Wash the pot thoroughly with hot water and scrub any tough marks with a brush. Always keep a newspaper under the containers so you can collect the soil and dirt that falls off from it.

But it’s just the first step, as sterilization requires deep cleaning. Here are two methods to sterilize pots without bleach.

Use Vinegar

Vinegar is a fantastic cleaning partner for household stuff, but the surprising part is that it works wonders for sterilizing pots as well. Apart from being a cheap and eco-friendly option, vinegar is always available in the kitchen, making it easily accessible.

This acid bath doesn’t affect your skin like bleach, so it’s great in this sense. The best part is that both plastic and clay pots can survive a vinegar cleaning procedure.

Now, you know all the benefits of this method, let’s learn how it works.

  • Mix vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio in a bucket so that the pot can completely immerse in the solution.
  • Leave the pot in that mixture for three to four hours.
  • Then, scrub it with a brush to remove the stains and dirt spots.
  • Rinse it with cold water.

Keep the pot in a clean place so it can air dry.

For hardened grease and buildup, you will need a more robust vinegar solution. The procedure will be as follows:

  • In a bowl, mix ¾ cup vinegar in one cup of water.
  • Use a sponge and wipe the stains and dirt with this solution.
  • Wrap the pot in a wet cloth and leave it for an hour.
  • Lastly, scrub the pot and rinse it off with cold water.

If you are cleaning clay pots, soak them in water before using this method. 

Bake the Pots

Well, your oven is not only meant for baking cakes and pies. It can help you with stuff other than cooking as well. I know you would be like, seriously, is that even true?

Well yes, heat sterilizing is a handy process, and you can bake the pot to sterilize it. It requires no rubbing and scrubbing, so it’s good for everyone who wants an easy solution for sterilizing pots. 

Here is how you can do it.

First, preheat the oven at a temperature of 220 °F.

Then, place the pot on a baking tray and put it in the oven for an hour.

Then, turn off the oven and let the pot cool before taking it out.

Please note that this method applies to clay pots only.

Bleach Method

If you want good results and can work with bleach, this method will help you sterilize pots.

First, you need to empty the pot and then scrub off the dirt from its surface. Use a toothbrush to reach the corners of the pot.

Make sure you wear gloves when working with bleach. Then, fill a tub with 1 part bleach and 9 parts water. Soak the pots in that solution for 10 to 15 minutes and then scrub the remaining dirt from them. 

If you are using terracotta pots, put them in clear water for 10 minutes after using this bleach solution because terracotta is porous, and you need to rinse out the bleach from that pot.

Finally, let the pots air dry, and they are sterilized.

You can put any of these indoor plants in these sterilized pots and enjoy the lovely scent wandering all over the place. However, if you like orchids, check this link and grow orchids in the pots.


Can I Use Broken Pots?

If a plastic pot breaks, you can’t use it again. Therefore, it should go to the trash bin right away. However, if you have a broken clay pot, you can use it in different ways. 

If you have creative skills, paint those pieces, and use them as a decoration piece or mosaic in the house.

Otherwise, the broken pieces can make an excellent drainage base at the bottom of any other pot.

When Should I Sterilize the Pots?

If you pile the dirty pots to sterilize later, it will be tough to clean the hard stains. So, the earlier you do it, the easier it is going to be.

I suggest you clean it right away when your plants reach the end of their season and take the soil out from the pot. Soak it in water and scrub the pot before piling it. Then, you can sterilize the containers the next day and keep them safe.

How to Store Sterilized Pots?

If you don’t want to use sterilized pots in the coming days, you should always store them safely. For plastic containers, stack them to utilize less space.

However, ceramic and clay pots can crack easily, so you should put newspapers and pad the pots before stacking to decrease the chances of chipping and breaking. 

Wrap up

Now that you know how to sterilize pots without bleach and with bleach, you can save a lot of money by reusing the old containers.

Remember that you should never risk the new plant just because you don’t want to sterilize the flower pots. Sterilizing the plant containers is a requirement like all other gardening rules, so please add it to your list if it wasn’t there yet.

It doesn’t matter whether you opt for a sterilizing option with bleach or without it. It depends on your comfort and the availability of cleaning items. On that note, I guess you have all the information that would help you to sterilize pots.

So, get your gloves ready, start pot sterilization, and plant new plants soon.