How to Sterilize Plant Pots Without Bleach

How to Sterilize Plant Pots Without Bleach

If you believe that gardening is solely about filling containers with cute plants and loving the flowers and fruits, you are mistaken. Keeping your plants blooming and thriving takes much work.
Just like we clean and disinfect our homes, it is important to sterilize pots since it is where the plants develop. However, the challenge is how we can accomplish this.
I’ll include some useful hacks for disinfecting pots in this post, and if you’re curious about how to disinfect pots without chlorine, I’ll cover that as well. Therefore, without further ado, let us read about this difficult yet essential job of cleaning plant containers.

How to Clean Plant Pots Without Using Bleach

Sterilize plant pots using a variety of techniques, including hydrogen peroxide, heat, vinegar, or star sanitizer (brewers sterilization formula). And any of such models will work; continue reading for more details.

I welcome your suggestion if you have old pots and want to reuse them. Rather than purchasing fresh containers, it is often prudent to repurpose old ones for developing new plants. It is a good idea.

If the old plant was infected, the disease would spread to the new plant. Additionally, the soil is the main reservoir of bacteria that can invade the newly planted vine. Thus, it is important to properly clean the pot and discard your old soil before reusing the container to cultivate new plants.

Bleach is the perfect disinfectant for washing old dishes. However, it is a harsh substance, and you do not want to use it often. Thus, here are a few methods you can use to sterilize pots without using bleach.

How to Sterilize Plant Pots Without Bleach

Consider the following:

These natural cleaning hacks are inexpensive and simple to implement. As a result, you can quickly use these to sterilize dirty dishes. However, before attempting either of these approaches, analyze the pot’s content and choose a sterilization plan appropriate for the material.

To begin, physically extract all dirt and debris from the pot. Thoroughly clean the pot with hot water and wipe some stubborn stains with a brush. Often place a newspaper under the containers to absorb any dust or debris that comes off.

However, this is just the first phase, as sterilization involves thorough washing. Here are two non-bleach ways for sterilizing dishes.

You Should Reuse Pots Without Using Bleach

Due to the possibility of disease transmission from your one potted plant to the replacement, I suggest sanitizing pots prior to reusing them. Although bleach is the most efficient disinfectant for plant pots, many people avoid it due to its abrasive nature. As a result, I’ll demonstrate how to sterilize pots without using bleach.

Your plants would be as satisfied as these flowers if you use one of the gentler methods mentioned below:

Prior to Sterilizing Pots Without Using Bleach, Wash Them

Prior to proceeding, you can thoroughly clean your pots with water and soap. It’s better to soak them for a bit to ensure that as much soil as possible is removed.

What You’ll Need

  • • A big sink or bowl of hot water
  • • Bleach for dishes
  • • A scrubbing brush
  • • A clean, dry rag

Pre-Washing Pots

Eliminate Loose Soil

Shake the pot upside down and softly thump it to release the dirt. Scrub as much soil as practicable using a scrubbing instrument, such as an antique toothbrush. Remove it with a dry towel.

Hot, Soapy Water In A Sink Or Bucket

Add dish soap to your sink or bucket as you load it with warm water to create a bubble bath.

As Much As Possible Dirty Pots

You can soak several pots concurrently in one of two ways:

  • • One method is to submerge plus stack pots one by one so that they can both fill with water well.
  • • Northwest Edible Life suggests using the “accordion process,” which involves loosely stacking many dry pots together, submerging them, then pumping them inwards and outwards between 10-15 times to fully wet them.

Enable Them To Soak

Allow the pots to soak for many hours, preferably overnight.

Remove Loosened Dirt

After allowing the pots to soak for a period of time, use your scrubbing tool to clean any loose soil.

Clean The Pots

Rinse each pot thoroughly to ensure that no useless soap residue remains. This move is critical if your soap has the potential to affect plants in some way.

Here Are Seven Non-Bleach Methods for Pot Sterilization

Note: If an object has an asterisk after it in either of the approaches below, I’ll describe it in greater depth before the directions.

Infuse Them With Vinegar

Vinegar of food-grade is mild on the skin but acidic enough to remove germs. It works well on both clay and plastic pans.

What You’ll Need

  • • Vinegar blanc
  • • Optional: warm water
  • • A substantial sink or bucket
  • • A scrubbing brush

*Note: The water is being used as a cost-cutting tool. Where possible, use undiluted vinegar.

How To Use Vinegar To Sterilize Pots Without Using Bleach

Combine The Vinegar And Water

Combine vinegar and warm water in a 1:1 mixture in a big sink or bucket. The pot should be fully submerged in the solution.

If you choose not to dilute your vinegar, you can do so, but this would almost certainly require a large amount of vinegar!

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Allow The Pot To Soak

Allow about three or four hours for the pot to soak in the solution.

Clean It Up

Remove any remaining stains or debris from the pot using a scrubbing instrument or an old toothbrush.

Rinse It

Rinse the pot thoroughly to ensure that no vinegar stain remains. Bear in mind that vinegar is acidic, so it can influence the soil’s pH.

Allow It To Dry Naturally

You can clean the pot dry with a towel if you like, but it is far better to simply allow it to air dry. The ideal location is outside, in direct sunshine.

Vinegar/Hydrogen Peroxide Spray The Pots

Another approach to use vinegar to sanitize pots is to directly brush them over. This approach enables the usage of undiluted vinegar to be more cost-efficient.

The measures below are equally applicable to hydrogen peroxide. Utilize whatever is accessible.

What You’ll Need

  • • Vinegar Blanche or hydrogen peroxide
  • • A depleted spray tank
  • • A clean, dry rag
  • • Water to use as a rinsing agent for the pot

How To Easily Sterilize Pots Without Using Bleach — Vinegar/Hydrogen Peroxide Spray

Fill The Spray Bottle With Water

Vinegar or hydrogen peroxide can be added to the spray tank. Do not dilute it with water for optimum cleaning efficiency.

Saturate The Pot

Spray the interior of the pot liberally with either substance.

Allow It to Sit

Either chemical requires about ten minutes to work, but twenty minutes is preferable.

Disinfect The Pot

Since vinegar will increase the acidity of the soil, it’s a great strategy to rinse the vinegar from the pot.

And if you utilize hydrogen peroxide, you can typically rinse it off due to its poor acidity.

Wipe It Off

Clean the pot with your rag. Additionally, you should allow your pot to air-dry in great sunlight for additional sanitization.

In The Oven, Bake Your Pots (Clay Pots Only)

Anything that is sufficiently heated will perish. Since this process can cause the plastic to melt, it can be used only for clay pots.

Photograph courtesy of

What You’ll Need

  • A range hood
  • A baking sheet

Without Using Bleach, How To Sterilize Pots — Baking

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Preheat oven to 220 degrees Fahrenheit/104 degrees Celsius. This temperature is sufficient to destroy the majority of microbes, viruses, and fungi.

You can need to cut one or two racks to accommodate the pans. Do this until the oven reaches an excessive temperature.

The Pots Must Be Baked

Arrange the pots on your baking tray and bake for an hour.

Enable Them to Cool Off

Turn off the oven, leave the door open, and allow the pot to cool.

Dishwasher The Pots (Clay Pots Only)

The hotter the setting on your dishwasher, the more germs it will kill. Family Handyman, on the other hand, advises using a gentle cycle, which can use less heat. Utilize your discretion.

This technique is only applicable to clay vessels since only a few plastics are dishwasher resistant. Additionally, still heat-stable plastic will release harmful chemicals when warm, which is critical if you want to develop food in your containers.

What You’ll Need

  • • An automatic dishwasher
  • • Detergent for dishwashers (optional)

How To Disinfect Pots Without Using Bleach — Using The Dishwasher

Place The Dishwasher In The Pot

It is irrelevant if you place a clay pot on the bottom or top rack – as long as it is not too fragile to slip through the rack.

If using this approach for plastic pans, choose the top rack.

Include Detergent

Although this article is about sterilizing pots without using chlorine, bleach is the main component in the majority of dishwashing detergents. If you’re prepared to use chlorine without handling it, dishwashing detergent can thoroughly disinfect your dishes.

Enable Them To Bask In The Sun

Although various reports suggest drying pots in the field, few recommend sunlight as a disinfectant on its own. Although there is enough proof that sunlight destroys germs, there is little data on how well it sanitizes pots.

The University of Oregon researchers created miniature rooms using glass windows as well as fill them with lots of dust from actual homes in one sample. After 90 days, rooms that had been opened to sunshine had half the viable bacteria as rooms that had been held in darkness.

Even the World Health Organization suggests sunshine for water disinfection. Six hours in the sun and water in a clear bottle accomplishes the task.

While it is unknown how good sunlight sterilizes dishes, mixing this approach with another on this list is a sure bet.

What You’ll Need

  • • A bright outdoor room

How To Sterilize Pots Without Using Bleach

Outside, Leave The Pot

Maintain the pot in a region that provides at least six hours of sunshine a day, including direct sunlight. The inner portion should be oriented upward.

Switch The Cauldron

Unless you are at the equator on an equinox, the orientation of the sun will cast a shadow on the one side of your pot. That would be the north-facing side of the northern hemisphere.

Switch the pot about halfway through its period outdoors to ensure full solarization.

Get The Pots To A Boil

This technique is completely healthy for clay pots. With regard to plastic pans, if yours specifies the kind of plastic, check to see if it is safe to boil.

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Additionally, as a reminder, hot liquids may cause the plastic to release harmful chemicals like BPA. Take notice of this if you want to cultivate food in plastic containers.

  • • A big cooking pot filled halfway with water
  • • A cooktop
  • • Tongs made of metal

Without Using Bleach, How To Sterilize Pots — Boiling

Place The Water Cooking Pot On your Stove

Actually, the cooking pot must be sufficiently wide and full to fully submerge the plant container.

Submerge The Plant Pot In Water

When the water is still cold, immerse the plant pot in it.

Heat The Water To A Boiling Point

Increase the heat to the maximum setting on your stove and wait for your water to boil.

Get The Pot To A Boil

Allow about 30 minutes and an hour for the pot to remain in the boiling water.

Remove It

Remove the plant pots gently with your tongs and put them aside to cool. Allow them to air dry.

Using Rubbing Alcohol to Clean Pots

Rubbing alcohol is a simple and efficient method of sanitizing dishes.

What You’ll Need

  • • An room that is well ventilated
  • • Dishwashing gloves made of rubber
  • • Alcohol rubbing
  • • A piece of cloth
  • • A dish (optional)

How To Disinfect Pots Without Just Bleach — Using Rubbing Alcohol

Locate A Well-Ventilated Space

Since rubbing alcohol emits toxic gases, it is recommended that you use it outside or in a space with an open window and a fan.

Infuse The Rag With Alcohol

Pour alcohol on your rag until it is soaked, thus wearing latex dish gloves. To stop losing alcohol, place a bowl on your floor to collect any excess liquid that the rag does not consume.

Clean The Pot

Wipe the interior of the pot thoroughly. The alcohol would soon evaporate.

You Now Understand How To Sanitize Pots Without Using Bleach

Since learning how to sterilize containers without using chlorine, you should be assured that they will not spread disease to your new plants. While bleach is powerful, it is not necessary to use that badly harsh chemical.

Anyway, if you’re going to use your pots for indoor planting, you may be interested in this picture article about tiny garden ideas or indoor garden ideas.

How was your experience with this tutorial? If so, please spread the word! Additionally, please express your opinions and concerns in the comments section.

Method Using Bleach

Method Using Bleach

If you want satisfactory results and are comfortable working with chlorine, this procedure can assist you in sterilizing pots.

To begin, empty the pot plus scrub the surface clean. Utilize a toothbrush to clean the pot’s corners.

When dealing with chlorine, do wear gloves. Then, fill a tub halfway with chlorine and halfway with hot. Soak the pots in the solvent for 10 to 15 minutes before scrubbing away any residual soil.

If you’re using terracotta containers, soak them in clean water for ten minutes after utilizing this bleach remedy, since terracotta is brittle and needs rinsing to remove the bleach.

Finally, enable the pots to air dry to ensure sterilization.

You can position some of such indoor plants in the sterilized pots and appreciate the lovely fragrance wafting throughout the space. However, if you enjoy orchids, visit this site to learn how to develop orchids in containers.

What is the Best Bleach for Cleaning Flower Pots?

Generally, there are two choices to explore, all of which are budget-friendly. The price is a fairly accurate predictor of the “bang for your buck.” This was the outcome of extensive analysis.

The Most Successful

Following a thorough comparison, it was determined that Clorox bleach is the safest and most powerful alternative on the market. Typically, it comes in a case with four refill tubes, which means you have ample chlorine to clean a large number of flower pots. It is good.

It is EPA certified, which indicates that it is environmentally sustainable and therefore better to use. There is no way to go wrong on this one.

The Effective

FABULOSO’s bleach is outclassed by the aforementioned. However, it is significantly less expensive, which is why it is called “effective.” This is about 70% less expensive than the standard version, and arguably more so, but costs are subject to adjustment, and therefore we are not providing specific figures.

You could need to use MORE FABULOSO to accomplish the same task as for the more costly. In the end, you can spend almost the same amount on doing the same task. If your budget is restricted, the bleach by FABULOSO still is a viable option. Nonetheless, unlike Clorox, it is not EPA certified.

There’s a reason it’s one of Amazon’s most popular products in this genre.

Pots for Winter Storage

On the other side, if you properly scrub the pots well at the end of the great season before storing them, you will find spring planting even simpler. This would ensure that no rodents or viruses survive the winter.

Empty the garden pots first. Discard the dying plants and keep the potting soil in decent order. And sterilize them using one of the methods mentioned above.

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Pots Made of Plastic

The plastic pots are already germ-free and ready to shop. Due to their resistance to weather fluctuations, you should store them outdoors. However, cover them first.

Pots Instead of Clay

Clay pots can never be left outdoors during the winter. Due to their elastic nature, they can hold some moisture, which can freeze and rise when temperatures fall below zero. As a result, the pots can fracture. As a result, it is prudent to cover each pot in a newspaper and store it indoors.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are disinfection and sterilization different?

Disinfection and sterilization are also decontamination procedures, meaning they remove toxins. The primary distinction between them being that disinfection targets only microbes, while sterilization targets all microorganisms on artifacts and surfaces.

How to use hydrogen peroxide to clean pots?

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) should be used to clean pots due to its antimicrobial effects. With that said, you can spray the pots with a solution of 6% to 9% peroxide. Which minimizes the chance of pathogen infection. If you use a stronger hydrogen peroxide solution, proceed with caution, since it has the potential to burn skin and plant tissues.

How can you dispose of split pots?

A shattered plastic garden pot cannot be recycled. Therefore, if it is no longer available, it should be discarded immediately. On the other side, once a clay pot splits, it may be used for a variety of other purposes. For example, you can use the broken pieces as good drainage by putting them at the bottom of some other containers, or you can use them to create decorative accessories and mosaics.

Am I Allowed to Use Broken Pots? How do you think?

If a plastic pot splits, it cannot be reused. As a result, it can be disposed of immediately. However, if you have a damaged clay pot, it can be repurposed in a variety of ways.

If you have artistic abilities, you can paint the parts and utilize them as a decoration or mosaic in your home.

Otherwise, the damaged fragments may be used to provide an outstanding draining foundation for some other pot.

When Can the Pots Be Sterilized?

If you stack the filthy pots for later sterilization, it would be difficult to remove the rough stains. Thus, the sooner you begin, the simpler it will be.

When your plants near the end of their season, I recommend immediately cleaning them and removing the soil from the pot. Until stacking it, soak it in water and clean the pot. The next day, sterilize and store the containers.

How Can Sterilized Pots Be Stored?

If you are not planning to utilize sterilized pots in the near future, they can still be stored securely. Stack plastic containers to save room.

However, since ceramic and clay pots are brittle, you can place newspapers and cushion the pots before stacking to minimize chipping and cracking.

How Can Sterilized Pots Be Stored

Additional Reviews:

Lisa Says:

After thoroughly cleaning them with soap and water, place them in a sunny porch, driveway, concrete walk, or patio for several days to solarize.

Sterilization is not essential for disease prevention in gardening; the strongest defense is active colonies of healthy bacteria and fungi in the soil, which render it difficult for pathogens to establish a foothold. And crop rotation, then mixed plantings (i.e., don’t plant 10,000 square feet of tomatoes and then become enraged when you discover a million hornworms), and correctly discarding dying / diseased plants take care of the most.

This is why proper irrigation, ventilation, and air movement are critical for disease prevention. While isolated sick plants can occur, if you maintain conditions that benefit plants over pathogens, and you should never experience a “garden plague.”

Linda says:

Bleach can be disposed of after cleaning, but I wouldn’t be too concerned as long as you clean them well after using it. Additionally, utilizing a weak combination of water and bleach.

You may also add/use chlorine, but bleach is more efficient.

Therefore, wash them, rinse them, and enable them to fully dry before using 🙂


You will save a lot of money by reusing old containers so that you will know how to disinfect pots without chlorine and with bleach.

Bear in mind that you can never take a chance on a fresh plant just because you are unable to disinfect the flower pots. And sterilizing plant pots, like all other planting laws, is mandatory, so please apply that to your list if it wasn’t already.

It makes no difference if you want a sterilization method that includes or excludes bleach. It is entirely dependent on the comfort level and the supply of cleaning supplies. On that point, I’m assuming you have all the knowledge necessary to sterilize dishes.

Therefore, prepare your gloves, begin sterilizing your pots, and begin planting new plants immediately.

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