How to Clean Out a Pumpkin

Planning to carve a pumpkin or two this Halloween? The first step is getting a pumpkin that's seed-free and ready to be carved. Get our quick mess-free method for cleaning out a pumpkin today!

Get your pumpkin ready to carve with a quick clean-out. We've got the secret to carving (Hint: work from the bottom up).

Cleaning out a pumpkin for carving is fairly simple, but we've got a few tips that make the messy task even easier. In the steps below, we'll walk you through the process from how to make the initial cut to tools you can use to get it done quickly.

Editor's tip: One thing you'll definitely want to do before carving: Protect your work surface. Whether you're doing your carving indoors or outside, you'll want to put down some newspaper to keep the sticky pumpkin insides from getting everywhere. Doing the work on newspaper also makes it easier to roll the paper up with the pumpkin guts inside when you're done.

How to Clean Out a Pumpkin for Carving

Step 1: Cut a Hole in the Bottom of the Pumpkin

If you've carved a pumpkin before, chances are you cut a circle around the pumpkin stem and reached in through the top to scoop out the pumpkin insides. But we think the secret to carved pumpkins that look great and last longer starts with cutting a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin rather than the top.

Cut a medium-size hole in the bottom of your pumpkin; the hole should be larger than your fist but small enough the cut portion won't be visible once you stand the pumpkin up. Use a long, thin serrated knife for this step—you can find these in most pumpkin carving kits.

Once you've carved a complete circle, make two cuts (starting at the perimeter of the circle, facing toward the center of the pumpkin) to form a small triangle-shaped notch. Poke the triangle shape out and use the notch to pull the rest of the circle away from the pumpkin.

Step 2: Remove the Pumpkin Guts

When you've removed the bottom portion of the pumpkin's rind, it's time for the fun part—removing the pumpkin guts. While reaching in with your bare hands would certainly get the job done, we have a few tips for anyone who doesn't like the feel of squishing pumpkin guts between their fingers.

  • Use a large scoop. You can find ones with serrated edges in some pumpkin carving kits, or look for a large, semi-curved utensil—like an ice cream scoop—from the kitchen.
  • Use a scoop made of metal. Plastic spoons or scoops may snap if used too forcefully.
  • Use a small knife to scrape the sides of the pumpkin, separating the rest of the guts from the inner rind—this will make the rest of the removal process quick and painless.
  • For really quick pumpkin gut removal, check out this clever pumpkin cleaning technique from the blog A Wonderful Thought. Her drill/eggbeater combo is genius!

Editor's tip: Don't throw out all the pumpkin insides! Save the seeds for a delicious roasted snack

Step 3: Scrape the Inside of the Pumpkin Clean

Once you've scooped out all the stringy pumpkin insides, go back over the inner rind and scrape it completely clean. You can use the same scoop you used before, or use a flat scraping tool that can be found in some pumpkin carving kits. Scrape the pumpkin sides until it is completely clear of all strings and extra loose material—this allows for a smooth, clean cut when you start carving a design into the pumpkin.

Editor's tip: You don't have to buy a special set of tools to clean out and carve pumpkins but there are some that will make the job much easier. Check out these pumpkin carving sets you can order today and have tomorrow.

Once you've cleaned out the pumpkin, wipe the interior walls with a mixture of water and bleach. The bleach mixture will prevent rotting, enabling you to enjoy your carved designs longer. The smell of the bleach can also keep squirrels and other animals who might want to much on your pumpkin art away.

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