Need Tips on Cleaning Gourds

debbieOctober 3, 2001

I received some gourds in the mail, and have scrubbed them and am now cleaning them out to remove the insides. I need suggestions on the easiest way to do this. I have tried doing one on the bottom and one on the top. These areas seem thicker then the other areas I am cutting out. Is there a tool etc that would be better to do this with?? I am using a dremel tool now. Is there a trick to get the cut out piece to fit back in the gourd snugly??

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    Bookmark   October 6, 2001 at 2:53PM
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I need to know how to dry birdhouse goards.Also information on seeds, the different kinds and when to plant them.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2001 at 11:53AM
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would like to know how to clean a goard cant get it clean even with bleach and water soaking and sanding is almost impossible for it being round and all. sandy

    Bookmark   July 22, 2002 at 6:34PM
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    Bookmark   October 2, 2002 at 8:16PM
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BetsieLT(NW MI)

Gourds are best left until a hard freeze/ After that elevate them (to get them away from critters) but leave them out of doors. I do bring mine in but I have an unheated greenhouse where I can hang them. Cleaning isn't fun My latest tool is a shedding comb with very fine teeth I found this is in the pet department. It is round with a handle and I can scrape the inside tops and sides with it. With birdhouse gourds, this wouldn't be helpful. For them I have used a long handled spoon that my husband sharpened the end. My husband also sharpened the side of the shedding comb that didn't have teeth. I soak all my gourds in bleach water, rinse and rub them down with old rags or paper towels while still wet. I may have to do this several times. Make sure there is no bleach residue on the gourds when finished.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2002 at 9:19PM
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suram(z-5 NE OH)

I just soaked some dried gourds to make it easier to clean them- I put them it a small amt. of dishsoap and added some bleach and hot water. Well, I forgot about them for about 1 week and when I went back to clean them they were mushy, REALLY moldy and had millions of fruit flies. I have never had this happen before. Is it because I let them soak toooo long? Why should that matter if they were already dry?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2002 at 7:57PM
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littlecars(8a Alabama)

Gourds should be emersed in luke warm water for about 15-20 minutes. A very coarse stainless steel 'wool' ball should be used to scour the sides of the gourd. If you leave a dried gourd in water very long, it will rot.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2002 at 8:59PM
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gooseneckmama(z 7 SC)

How long will gooseneck gourds last if properly dried? What is the best method of preservation? Thank you for the information.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2003 at 3:46PM
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dylansnanabella(z8 GA)

I use an old towel on top of my gourds to help keep them submerged in the bleach water. To clean the inside, cut an opening and then soak for aprox. an hour. I use a clam shell to scrape out the seeds and fibers and to cut down the thickness in the walls. The shell is sharp, tough and fits nicely in your hand.
To make the top fit back nicely, plan to cut a dip or curved place in the lid that will act as a "Key" so you will always know exactly how the lid fits.
Have you tried using the carving knives and gouges used to carve print blocks? They work pretty good. I use a Drimal alot too.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2003 at 1:51PM
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raker(USDA Zone 8 & 9)

Reference message posted by: littlecars (My Page) on Mon, Oct 21, 02 at 20:59. Yes,I have tried many different methods to clean gourds and have found that a stainless steel ball (pot scrubber) works the easiest. Be sure it is stainless steel. As for soaking gourds, I have left them in a bucket of water, covered with a wet towel, for as long as 24 hours without any problems. However, I feel that littlecars recommendation of 15 to 20 minutes in warm water should be sufficient.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2003 at 1:50AM
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I've got no experience but I've been doing a lot of research.

Here is a link that might be useful: the best information on gourds that I could find!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2004 at 7:29PM
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gourdaddict(z7 Dallas Tx)

I soak my gourds for about an hour in bleach and water.
First thing I do is to put them in a 5 gallon bucket then i cover the top 3/4 way with about 50 ponds of marble to hold the gourds underwater. Then after soaking I take a potters Rib that is made from maliable plastic and scrape the skin off then I place back in water to soak for another 20 or 30 minutes, the we remove them and scour with a green pad that is used to clean dishes, then wash thouroughly to remove lose skin let dry then lightly finish sand with steel wool.
If anyone is interested in what some of this process looks like check out our website. Click on gourd gourds gourds in the highlights section and then look at the photos section and also we have another page also starting on that page shows some of the cleaning process called gourds page 2, Check out the photos there.

I would do this outside becase it is kinda messy
click on our homepage below to get started.

Here is a link that might be useful: Homepage

    Bookmark   March 26, 2004 at 10:33PM
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bindi_bhaji(z9a VanIsle, BC)

Hi Guys,
I don't soak my gourds! Honestly! I've never needed to! Maybe it's because I live in a mild climate (Zone 9a, Vancouver Island. Yes, it's quite warm here!). We don't get a frost until well after the gourds are finished, and so I doubt I've ever waited until then. I put mine under the balcony on newspapers and wooden pallets, turning them every day, tipping on their sides, etc., making sure that all sides get fresh air (and I space them out as well for circulation purposes). I wipe the slime and mold off every once in a while, when it gets pretty gross. Some of it doesn't come off with a wet paper towel or rag, and I leave it. When the seeds rattle, I have just rinsed them off under tap water, once or twice I've dipped them in a bit of soapy or bleachy water (and I mean DIPPED, as in a minute or less!), then just used a scrub brush to brush off the residual skin and mold (not much left), scraping GENTLY (so as not to scratch!!!) the tough hard bits of black gunk with a dull kitchen knife (easy does it). That's it! I think most of the skin comes off while they're outside. It's been pretty easy for me this way. Hope that helps give you a good idea on what to expect! :)

    Bookmark   April 26, 2004 at 3:50PM
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mmcc(Maryland - z7)

I am still confused by the answers.

Do you let the gourd dry first (and if so how long) or do you clean it and then let it dry.

I am about to have a lot of birdhouse gourds and need to know what to do.

How long do they need to dry before they can be painted and sealed, etc.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2004 at 3:38PM
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There are two ways to clean gourds (I am not counting those courageous souls who microwave them... I would be terrified). One way to do it is "green cleaning", which means to clean them before they're dry. I usually do green cleaning about halfway through the drying process (one to three months, depending on the gourd). At this point you can scrape the skin off the gourd easily (I use the back of a knife for this). They will keep getting wet from the drying process even after this, so make sure you wipe the mold off once in a while. I use a little Tilex on a wet rag for that to impede the growth of mildew. The other way I clean gourds is when they are completely dry. When the seeds rattle, I spray them with Greased Lightning, Orange Clean, Formula 409 or any good cleaner, then wrap the gourd in a plastic trash bag for an hour. A scrubbing with a steel scrubber is all that's needed after this clean it up... after an hour in the bag it's usually really easy to get any old skin and mold off. Always the best part of gourding for me is seeing that beautiful gourd coming out from under all the mold. Hope this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: 2003 Gourd Art

    Bookmark   July 14, 2004 at 10:04PM
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dirtyfingers75(zone 5/6 MO.)

i have some gourds that i have been drying for several months in my green house. i have drilled some holes in the bottem of them. is it too late to put them in a bleach solution and should they be in sunny or shady warm spot for drying them. PLEASE HELP.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2005 at 3:42PM
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First, are they heavy or light? If they feel really light, and rattle when you shake them, they're done drying. Heaviness indicates water still in the gourd that needs to come out. The bleach solution is usually done when the gourd is totally dry, unless you're using my Tilex trick, which I have ongoing through the drying process to stop the mildew from forming in the first place. Without the Tilex, you get nice mold patterns.

Lots of growers allow their gourds to dry in the field, where they get sun and air circulation. I've field dried and also "barn dried" (kept them in my unheated barn over the winter.) A greenhouse is probably not the best place to be drying them because of the constant humidity... you're trying to get water from the gourds, not add water to them. :)

    Bookmark   January 28, 2005 at 9:12AM
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Nonnie_GA(7b GA)


1) pick gourds when the stems are brown and dried. For minimal cleaning, on the outside, gourds should be placed off the ground and spread on a pallet.

(2) gourds will take sometimes months to dry, 6-12 months. When you hear the seeds rattling around they should be ready.

(3) gourds cannot be cleaned on the inside until they are dried.

(4) After they are dried you can pick one of the many suggestions listed here to clean. My personal way of doing it is to place the gourd in the sink, turn on the hot water, put dish detergent on the gourd and scrub with the stainless scrubbie. This should get the mold off. Sometimes I have to use a kitchen table knife to scrape them. I personally like to see some of the various designs that are on the gourds.

(5) To clean the inside you have to determine what design you want. If the gourd will not have any openings on them you don't necessarily have to clean the inside. After cutting open the gourd I use a Proxxon Mini-Jigsaw to cut my designs. I have various tools to clean the inside out. I have a old metal slotted spoon that I have sharpened and attached a metal rod to and I can clean out most gourd with it. I have also purchased gourd scrapers. You can soak the inside and scrape out. Then you can sand the inside.

(6) Just about any medium can be used on the outside of a gourd. It's like a smooth canvas - shoe polish, leather dye, leather paint, markers, oil pastel crayons, watercolors, oil paint, acrylic paint, wood stain, etc. You can coil them with pine needles, raffia, cording, etc. You can embed into the outside of the gourd with many things.

(7) After completing your design you have, again, many ways of preserving your work. Polyuretan varnish, plain ole varnish, any kind of wood preservative will do. You can make them foodsafe by using an oil that is used for wood cutting boards.

(8) Gourds can be waterproofed on the inside by using Spar Varnish or beeswax.

There are a lot of different ways of doing some of the things I've explained by can't remember. Gourding is a matter of choice. Whatever you want to do, try it. Keep gourd scraps and experiment on them.

Happy Gourding!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2005 at 2:56PM
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redblossom40(z8-9 sierra)

Debbie please be careful when you cut one open and start cleaning the inside. Or when you sand one, so wear a mask. The dust from a gourd can cause breathing problems. It turns my face red and I can't breath. So please be careful the dust does get to some of us.

Enjoy gourding Tamara

    Bookmark   January 30, 2005 at 11:27AM
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Nonnie_GA(7b GA)

Tamara, you have ruined my weekend! Your workshop looks so nice and clean. I like the gourd in the picture.

You are so right about the dust mask. I completely forgot to put that in which is, probably, the most important advice I could have given. I myself wear one of the alien looking masks because I have bad lungs in the first place and when I do just a tiny bit of work with a mask I pay for it.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2005 at 12:07PM
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