(Meredith) - There's nothing like carving a pumpkin only to see it wilt away a few days later. 

These simple steps will help your Halloween pumpkins last longer:

1. Handle with care

Try your best to keep your hands off your pumpkins, as the oils from your fingers can speed up the rotting process. The only time you should touch the pumpkin is when you pick it, when you unload it from your car, and when you clean it. 

2. Give it a bleach-water bath 

To keep the rind fresh, give your pumpkin a bath every now and then. Start by cleaning out your pumpkin, making sure to remove all of the guts and seeds. Then, mix one part bleach to ten parts water in a large container and bathe your pumpkin in the solution for about two minutes. You can also use the bleach-water mixture as a daily spray to keep your pumpkin healthy.

Pumpkin carving

A man pulls seeds and fibrous material from a pumpkin before carving for Halloween.

3. Let it dry completely

When cleaning out your pumpkin, make sure that the inside is dry and completely free of guts. Before carving your pumpkin, let the cavity dry out. 

4. Apply petroleum jelly

Moisturize your pumpkin by rubbing petroleum jelly, olive oil, or coconut oil around the carved areas. This will keep your pumpkins fresh for a longer period of time.

5. Make a DIY pumpkin spray

Keep your pumpkin conditioned with a spray of peppermint soap mixed with a few drops of peppermint essential oil. Peppermint has anti-fungal properties that will keep your pumpkins soft and smooth.

6. Display in a dry area 

If you plan on keeping your pumpkins outside, be sure to place them in a dry, shaded spot for the entire season. Too much sun will speed up a pumpkin's decaying process, while moisture from rain can lead to mold and mush.

7. Avoid real candles

It's best to avoid flames in or near your pumpkin, so nix the candles and use a flickering, battery-operated light instead. 

8. Keep pests away

Keep your pumpkins off the ground to avoid pests like ants and squirrels. Consider displaying your pumpkins on a windowsill or stacking them on haybales.

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Information from Better Homes & Gardens contributed to this story. Better Homes & Gardens is published by the same company that owns this news station, The Meredith Corporation.

Copyright 2020 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. 

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