How to Bleach Pinecones

Hopefully you saw my neutral winter tablescape on Tuesday. Today I am showing you how I bleached the pinecones for this project. Bleached pinecones can be used in all kinds of decor and craft projects.

I was able to find thirty or more nice pinecones beneath some long needled pine trees on my regular walk and bring them home. After cleaning off all of the pine needles, it was time to clean the pinecones.

Use a soft brush to brush off any debris or broken pieces until they look clean. There are two methods to get them clean and make sure you kill any bugs that might be hiding in the cones.

  1. Mix two parts water with one part white vinegar, dip the pinecones in the water and leave them in there for twenty minutes (and NO longer). Remove them from the vinegar mixture and let them dry.


2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, put a single layer of pinecones on the paper and put in an oven, preheated to 220 degrees. Bake them for 30 minutes, let them cool and remove from the oven.

Either of these methods is acceptable and will kill any bugs in the pinecones.

Find an area that is well ventilated. I do this in my garage with the garage door open. Select a container that will hold all of your pinecones in a single layer. I like to use a plastic storage bin. Have a second bin available that is the same size.

Carefully pour one gallon of bleach into a tub. Next, add four gallons of water to the tub.

Without causing a splash, gently add the pinecones to the bleach mixture. They will float.

Put the empty bin on top of the pinecones as shown above.

Fill the empty gallon jugs with water and put them in the top bin to weigh it down.

Take a look from the side and make sure all of the pinecones are completely submerged. If you have a lot of air bubbles, you may need to take your top bin out and put it down one end at a time to release all of the air bubbles.

Let the pinecones soak in the mixture for 24 hours.

When you lift out the top bin, don’t be surprised, your cones will have closed up like mine did as shown above. DON’T PANIC!

Leave your pinecones someplace warm and dry and they will slowly (sometimes v-e-r-y slowly) open up. See how tight these are toward the tips? This can take anywhere from 24 hours to three or four days. Be prepared to wait it out.

You may not think your pinecones lightened all that much, but when you put them next to one that was not bleached, you can clearly see the difference! Have fun bleaching your pinecones and using them in tablescapes or crafts!

If you can’t find pinecones near you, you can always get them here:

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    1. Thank you Mary, I am the same! I had been wanting to do this for ages and when Hometalk asked me to do a video of it, I jumped at the opportunity! I think there will be lots of bleached pinecones in my Christmas 2021 decor!

  1. I am definitely going to do this. However, it is much safer to add the bleach to the water as it will diluted as you pour. This is a lab safety rule when diluting caustic things like acids and bases. I also have a question, do you wash the pine cones after they are bleached. Thank you.

    1. Thank you Gay…I guess you know I was never an “A” student in Chemistry! That is good to know. I don’t wash them afterwards, I set them out in the sun to dry for a day. They don’t have any bleach smell left on them.

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