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How to Clean Terracotta Clay and Other Flower Pots with Bleach

You might be surprised to learn that bleach can help maintain healthy plants and flowers. Here’s how to clean your flower pots to help prevent the spread of mold and diseases between plants.

More from Clorox experts

Before planting, clean flower pots with bleach.

For your indoor or outdoor gardening, before you plant new seeds or plants, you can help prevent the transfer of mold and diseases from old plants to new ones when you treat your old flower pots and planters with a bleach and water solution made with Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach. This solution is appropriate for a wide variety of gardening containers such as terracotta, clay, plastic and ceramic pots. 

Gather your supplies

Steps to clean a flower pot with bleach

  1. 1

    Mix prewash solution

    In a plastic bucket, add a tablespoon of powdered laundry detergent to 1 gallon of hot tap water and stir to dissolve with the large plastic spoon.

    clorox 2 powder in bottle
  2. 2

    Pre-wash each flower pot

    Use the prewash solution and a nylon brush to scrub each flower pot on both the inside and the outside to remove any organic matter, then rinse thoroughly with clean water and set aside.

  3. 3

    Mix the bleach and water solution

    Fill a second plastic bucket with 1 gallon of cool water, then add 1/3 cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach. Wear gloves, safety glasses and clothing that you don’t mind accidentally splashing with bleach solution. 

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  4. 4

    Soak the flower pot

    Submerge the flower pot in the bleach and water solution and let it soak for 6 minutes. 


    Larger flower pots that don’t fit in a bucket can be sponged with the bleach solution, reapplying it as needed to keep the pot wet for the full 6 minutes.

  5. 5


    Thoroughly rinse the flower pot with clean water.


    When finished, the bleach and water solution can be easily disposed of by pouring it down any sink drain.

  6. 6

    Air dry

    Allow flower pots to air dry completely before planting.

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Frequently asked questions

Can I use a bleach and water solution to wash the fabric that lines a hanging basket?

Yes, geotextiles are typically bleach-safe, but if you aren’t sure test a hidden area first. For colorfast geotextiles, first shake out loose soil and debris, then hand wash the fabric in a little detergent and water. Rinse thoroughly, then submerge in the bleach and water solution and allow to soak for 6 minutes. Rinse again and allow to air dry before planting.

How long does a bleach and water solution last?

Bleach and water solutions need to be made fresh each day that you use them because the bleach active, combined with your tap water, breaks down quickly into salt and water. Ready-to-use products, on the other hand, are formulated with a one-year shelf life when properly stored away from direct sunlight in a cool, dry place.

What’s the best way to dispose of a bleach and water solution?

The bleach and water solution can be easily disposed of by pouring it down any sink drain.