How to Clean Plant Pots

One of the best parts of growing cannabis is that many of the tools are reusable. Lights, watering systems, and pots can all get reused until they completely fall apart. That means you can get years or even decades out of the same supplies, as long as you take care of them.

In the case of your planting containers, you need to clean them, but, thankfully, maintenance is simple. There are plenty of pathogens that can infect cannabis plants. These pathogens spread to the plant’s growth medium and cling to the sides of the planters. If you try to grow marijuana in an unsterilized pot, it may get infected and die.

It’s easy to prevent this mistake. Giving your planters a thorough scrub and soak after every harvest keeps them sterile and ready to go. Your new plants have a clean and pest-free home, and you won’t have to spend a penny on new pots.  

Here’s how to clean plant pots for happy, healthy plants:

Getting Ready to Clean Your Pots

Getting Ready to Clean Your Pots

The first step to getting your pots squeaky clean is setting up a washing station. Having everything ready to go from the start helps the task go smoothly. Depending on how many plants you grow, you could have anywhere from one to several dozen pots to clean. Either way, this might get messy – that’s why it’s best to clean your pots outside.

You’re going to need several tools. First, find the largest water-proof container you can – a large plastic storage tub works well. If you can’t find that, you can also line a large laundry basket with a plastic shower curtain liner or a tarp. The important thing is that the container is bigger than your largest pots.

You should also grab some kitchen sponges and a wire brush. If you have large pots, try scrubbers with long handles. These tools help you get rid of caked-on dirt, grime, mineral deposits, and rot.

Set out some long rubber gloves. Part of the cleaning process involves bleach, so you want to protect your hands and arms. If you’re concerned, you can also grab a pair of protective eye goggles just in case.

Finally, bring out the bleach, dish soap, a hose, and something to sit on while you scrub. If you have many pots, you’re going to be scrubbing for a while. Sitting down helps the work go faster.

How to Clean Flower Pots

How to Clean Flower Pots

When you’re cleaning flower pots, the first step is to knock out as much extra dirt as possible. The same is true for cannabis pots. You can use the dry wire brush to gently knock out loose soil. If your cannabis crop was healthy, you can save that extra dirt and throw it into a compost pile.  Reusing that dirt prevents waste and fuels healthy plant growth during your future grows.

Now fill up your big tub with water and some dish soap. If the weather is nice, just use a hose. If you want something a little warmer, you can also bring buckets of hot water outside. Use sponges to wash out any stubborn dirt. To disinfect the pots properly, you need to get rid of all the organic matter inside. Use the wire brush to clear out particularly stubborn spots and any white mineral deposit lines.

Once the insides of the pots appear clean, it’s time to sterilize them. Dump the water currently in your tub. You’re going to replace it with a 10% bleach solution. The easiest way to measure that is to pour a gallon of bleach into the tub, then add nine gallons of water. Bleach usually comes in a gallon jug, so you can refill it with water nine times and guarantee you have the right ratio.

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Wear your rubber gloves when working with bleach. Even a 10% bleach solution can irritate your skin. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Gently place as many pots into the solution as you can fit. If large containers can’t be fully submerged, you can rotate them periodically while they soak. The pots should remain in the soak for a minimum of ten minutes – the longer, the better! Soaking gives the bleach time to kill even the most stubborn disease-causing agents.

You can clean other parts of your grow setup, too. Snips, trowels, plant ties, stakes, and more can all go through the bleach solution. If you’ve had outbreaks of anything nasty recently, it can’t hurt to take an extra step to get things squeaky clean.

Side note: If you want to grow organic or if you’re a little leery of using bleach on your plants, there’s an alternative. Cleaning plant pots with vinegar is almost as effective as bleach. If you’re going to soak the pots in vinegar, use the proper ratio. Vinegar is weaker than bleach, so you need a 25% vinegar solution instead of 10%. Your pots will smell like vinegar, but it’s definitely less harmful to the environment than bleach.

Using Pots After Cleaning

Using Pots After Cleaning

The guidelines covering how to clean plant pots for reuse are nearly the same as those addressing how to clean plant pots. The main difference is how you store them. It’s important to let the pots air dry. If you don’t, there may be a few bugs that stay around.

To prepare your pots for storage, carefully take the pots out of the bleach solution and turn them upside down on a concrete or brick surface. They’ll drip dry for a few hours. Letting the bleach solution linger on the surface until it dries naturally helps kill any last bugs that might linger.

It’s best to dry the pots on a hard surface, not on turf. The bleach solution can kill plants, earthworms, and other parts of a healthy ecosystem. Keeping the drips on stone, concrete, asphalt, or something else inert helps the bleach evaporate without hurting anything. You may only be concerned about how to clean flower pots, but it shouldn’t lead to hurting other plants!

Similarly, you should dispose of your bleach solution carefully. You can pour it out of a driveway or road. If you have an area where you’re specifically trying to kill plants, you could also dump it there. For example, gravel edging that doesn’t have any landscaping plants in it can be a good choice.

Once your pots are dry to the touch, stack them for storage, or immediately refill them with new plants. Make sure the bleach has completely evaporated. Wet bleach can infiltrate the soil and damage your pot plants’ roots, hurting your plants and possibly killing off young seedlings.

Even vinegar solutions (although they are less damaging to the environment) are not great for the soil. They won’t hurt plants as badly, but they can hurt soil organisms. You can pour out vinegar solutions around evergreen plants, hydrangeas, daffodils, and rhododendrons. These plants love acidic soil, and vinegar won’t hurt them.

FAQ About Cleaning Plant Pots

Should you wash plant pots?

You will need to wash your pots well, because cleaning them will remove the mineral residue, but the pots will also hold signs of disease or pest eggs, so make sure you take the time to wash your pots.

Can you reuse plant pots?

If you’ve acquired a big number of used flower pots and planters, you’re possibly contemplating re-using them for your next container planting set. This is a perfect way to be frugal yet maintaining a vibrant and diverse selection of plants, but reusing containers may be an problem when you disinfect them.

Can you reuse soil when growing cannabis plants?

When you grow on a budget or just don’t want to keep recycling soil with each session, the soil may be reused but it takes some care. If performed poorly you will substantially reduce the yields by reusing the dirt. Large volumes of nutrients are withdrawn from the growing medium during-harvest, which is why replenishing of the soil is important. It would offer plants the possibility to thrive in it again.

Cleaning your pots helps keep your plants healthy. You wouldn’t put new food in a container that had just held moldy leftovers. Don’t do that to your cannabis plants, either! Give them a clean, fresh, sterile home. That will help keep you from losing a harvest to a completely preventable disease.

Read How to Clean Plant Pots on I Love Growing Marijuana.