Gardening: How to Clean a Used Flower Pot Container

March 29, 2021

Recently, I saw a post in my gardening club that captured my attention. It was a photo of a kitchen sink inundated by dirty reusable flower pots. The lady was asking if anyone else washed and sanitized their pots. There were hundreds of polarized comments. Many people said that they had been gardening for years and had never washed a single pot. Another member suggested that the necessity to wash the pots is “a myth.” I decided to research more about this topic. I was very interested, because I was about to transplant my new seedlings into recycled pots. After reading several articles, I realized that IT IS NECESSARY TO WASH AND SANITIZE THE POTS BEFORE REUSING THEM!

Sterilize the Pots

Just as in kitchen cleaning, a clean flower pot isn’t a germ-free flower pot. After used flower pots have been cleaned, they need to be sterilized to kill any organisms that may spread disease to next year’s plants. Pots should be soaked in a solution of 1 part household bleach and 9 parts water for an hour, and then rinsed and soaked in clear water to remove any bleach residue that remains. The pots should be left in the clear water until they are ready to be planted to add extra moisture to fresh potting soil, unless they will be used on another day.

Store Pots Correctly

Gardeners with many pots to clean and sterilize may do the job in batches, often having pots in many stages of the process at the same time. All sterilized pots should be stored separately from dirty pots to prevent disease organisms from redepositing on the surface of the cleaned pots. Dirty pots should be stored in a separate plastic bag, such as a garbage bag, to prevent the spread of dirt and germs until they can be treated.

Recently, I spent an afternoon cleaning my pots. First, I hosed them down to get any old soil off. Second, I scrubbed them with a scouring brush. Third, I rinsed the pots. Fourth, I scrubbed the pots again using the scouring brush saturated in dish soap. Fourth, I rinsed the pots again. Finally, I allowed the pots to dry in the sun. I was hesitant to bleach the reusable plastic pots, because I am using them to plant vegetables. I am very cognizant of the slightest possibility of any contamination. After the pots dried, I set the pots aside to be used the next day for planting.


Cleaning Used Flower Pots: How To Clean A Container by Anne Baile at

Do you wash your planting pots? Please share in the comments. Thank you for sharing!

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