What's That White Stuff On My Terra-Cotta Pot?

What's The White Stuff On My Terra-Cotta Pots?

The mystery explained. What is that white stuff on my Terra-Cotta pot? and how do I remove it? 

Over time, you might notice a white film on your terra-cotta pots. It generally begins to form at the base of the pot, but don't worry, it's not some sort of mold!

Terra-Cotta is basically an unglazed clay pot, and is actually porous, which means it allows moisture and air to pass through it, like a sponge. This helps prevent overwatering as it absorbs excess moisture from the soil and dries fairly fast. However, there is a downside to its porous nature: it collects minerals from your tap water.

White stuff on my terra-cotta pots

The minerals tend to build up first at the bottom of the pot, but eventually spread all over.

Built-up salts and minerals inside the pot can actually be detrimental to the plants overall health, causing stunted growth, root burns and even cause fungal diseases and pests. Not good. 

Build up of minerals and calcium on my plant pots 

To remove it following the steps below, 

Removal

When it comes to removing the white residue, you can use a few things laying around the house. All you need is white vinegar (if you don't have any, you can use bleach), something to scrub it with like a dish sponge.

Step 1.)

Gather your supplies, and If needed, remove the plant completely from the pot you will be cleaning and place it in a temporary container. Make sure to remove excess dirt before cleaning it in your sink!

Terra-Cotta pot with white stuff

Step 2.)

Place the empty pot in your kitchen sink or bathtub and plug the drainage hole.

 

Step 3.)

Mix 1 cup of vinegar to your sink and submerge the container, soaking the pot for 30 minutes. If you are unable to fully submerge the pot, fill the inside with the vinegar mixture and soak that for the same amount of time.

  • If you are cleaning more than one Terra-Cotta pot¬†at a time, place the pots in a bathtub and submerge them. Mix 4 cups of white vinegar to the water (or 1/3 cup of bleach) and let that soak for 30 minutes.¬†

Plug the drainage hole in the sink and soak the pot to remove the calcium build up

Step 4.)

Once you have soaked them for the full 30 minutes rinse them out with lukewarm water. Begin scrubbing the inside and outside of the pot with soap until the residue starts coming off. This can take about two minutes or so depending on how much build-up there is. 

Soak the pot in vinegar for 30 minutes to remove the build up of minerals on your pot

Step 5.) 

Give the pots a final rinse with lukewarm water, then pat dry with a towel. 

Dried Terra-Cotta Pot with White Stuff removed

Prevention

The best way to really get a hold on this (as this will happen again) is use a dry sponge and gently scrub the pot when its dry. This should help break up the white build up until you are ready to clean it again. Another way is to use distilled water.

Terra-Cotta Pot Cleaned Up With No More White Build Up

With monthly maintenance, you will keep the pots clean and your plants happy! 

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