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How To Clean Pinecones For Crafts

Pinecones can be fashioned into all sorts of lovely decorations, from beautiful wreaths to cute animal figurines. And making these is a great activity for adults as well as children. But first, you need to get rid of any bugs on them, clean them up, and get them to open up!

Even if you plan to keep your pinecone artwork outdoors, you may still want to clean them up. It can help preserve them. Also, you might decide at some point to bring it indoors to protect it from the weather. You might want to clean it again at that point, but your initial treatment will have helped a lot.

Why Do You Need To Clean Pinecones?

There are at least four great reasons you’ll want to clean your pinecones before using them.

Get Rid Of Bugs

Insects, spiders, and other pests love the outdoors as much as we do! And there’s like to be at least a few of them on your pinecones. 

You don’t want to bring these tiny creatures into your home, of course. Proper cleaning will keep them at bay!

Remove Dirt

Of course, pinecones can be pretty dirty! They’ve been laying on the ground gathering soil, pine needles, and bits of leaves (and maybe of bugs). 

You don’t want THAT to be part of your decorations!

Get Rid Of Sap

One of the reasons that pinecones can get so dirty is because of the sap they hold. They’re sticky! That traps a lot of “junk” on them. And it’s also incredibly messy when you try to work with them. 

Open Up The Pinecone

You may notice that some pinecones are more closed up than others. Usually, that means there is still more liquid content in them.

Part of the cleaning process involves drying them out. That will help open them up, giving them more body.  These “open” cones are the ones that we normally see in seasonal displays.

beautiful dried pinecones with open scales

Cleaning Pinecones By Baking

Yes, baking pinecones is the fastest and easiest way to clean them. It also fills your home with that great pine smell!

Before turning on the oven, though, use a soft brush and some water. Let them sit to dry on some paper towels.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and space your coin out on it. Preheat your oven to about 200°F. Bake for 30 minutes or so. Be sure to check on them often because they can burn! 

This will help kill off any insects or eggs in the center of the cone. It will also draw out and evaporate most of the sap.

Cleaning Pinecones By Bathing

If you’d rather not bake them, you can wash your pinecones with water and vinegar.

Start by cleaning off loose dirt with a brush. Then find a large bucket with water; add 1 cup of white vinegar for every gallon of water. A wide bucket is better than a deep one, since pinecones float!

Let the pinecones sit in the water-vinegar mixture for 30 minutes or so. After that, remove them and place them on paper towels. They will take two to three days to dry, depending on the humidity.

As they dry, the pinecone will open up. It’s quicker with baking but either method will get the job done!

Want White Pinecones?

Many people like the look of white pinecones. These can be an attractive look for many craft projects. And it’s surprisingly easy to do! We have two methods that can work for it.

Bleach 

Bleach takes the color out of almost everything – even pinecones. 

Mix water and chlorine bleach in equal amounts. Again, your bucket doesn’t have to be deep. But if you have a lot of pinecones, a wide one is helpful. 

pinecones are associated with the winter holidays

Let your pinecones sit in this solution for eight or nine hours, then remove them and rinse them in cool water. Allow them to dry on paper towels for a few days.

Acrylic Paint

If you prefer not to use bleach, you can thin clear acrylic paint with water. An off-white color is the best option.

Dip the pinecone in it and shake off the excess. Again, you’ll need to allow the paint to dry over a day or two.

Preserving Pine Cones

As an organic material, pinecones are going to decay eventually. The cleaning process got rid of bugs but the cones will still begin to fall apart over time.

To help protect them, you can use clear acrylic paint, polyurethane, or a spray-on varnish. A light coat will do the job!

Conclusion 

When it’s time to do pinecone crafts, you want to be sure to get rid of bugs and dirt and to treat them so they’ll last a long time. And cleaning them is a simple process! You’ll soon be enjoying the crafting rather than the scrubbing. From there, you can give your creations as gifts or enjoy them for yourself.