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

The mystery explained. What is the White Residue on Terra-Cotta Pots and How to Remove it? 

Terra-Cotta pots are a popular choice for plant lovers due to their natural, rustic appearance. However, over time, you might notice a white film on your pots that can affect the plant's health. In this blog post, we will explain what causes the white residue and provide an easy step-by-step guide on how to remove it.

White stuff on my terra-cotta pots

What is the White Residue on Terra-Cotta Pots?

The white residue that appears on Terra-Cotta pots is the buildup of minerals from tap water. Mineral buildup, also known as efflorescence, is a white, powdery substance that forms on the surface of clay plant pots. It is caused by the accumulation of minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and salts, that are present in the water used to water your plants, as well as the soil. When the water evaporates, these minerals are left behind, forming a visible residue on the pot's surface.The porous nature of the clay pot absorbs excess moisture from the soil.

How does this affect my plants?

While mineral buildup on clay plant pots may not seem like a significant issue, it can actually have negative effects on your plants. When minerals accumulate on the pot's surface, they can alter the pH balance of the soil, making it more alkaline.

As a result, the white film begins to spread over time and can cause stunted growth, root burns, fungal diseases, and pests. 

Build up of minerals and calcium on my plant pots 


Removing the white residue from Terra-Cotta pots is easy and can be done with a few household items. Follow these steps:

Step 1.)

Gather your supplies, including white vinegar (or bleach) and a scrubbing tool like a dish sponge. If necessary, remove the plant from the pot and remove excess dirt.

Terra-Cotta pot with white stuff

Step 2.)

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


Step 3.)

Mix 1 cup of white vinegar with water and submerge the pot for 30 minutes. If you're cleaning multiple pots, use a bathtub and mix 4 cups of white vinegar to the water. Alternatively, you can use 1/3 cup of bleach instead of vinegar.

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

Step 4.)

Rinse the pot with lukewarm water and 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 buildup there is.

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

Step 5.) 

Rinse the pot with lukewarm water again, then pat dry with a towel.

Dried Terra-Cotta Pot with White Stuff removed

Preventing White Residue Buildup on Terra-Cotta Pots

The best way to prevent mineral buildup on clay plant pots is to use distilled or filtered water when watering your plants. This will remove any excess minerals from the water and prevent them from accumulating on the pot's surface. Another option is to use a water-soluble fertilizer that is low in salts to reduce the amount of minerals that are introduced to the soil.

However, the simplest way to really prevent white residue buildup on Terra-Cotta pots is through regular maintenance. Use a dry sponge to gently scrub the pot when it's dry, which can help break up the white buildup until you are ready to clean it again. 

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

In conclusion, the white residue that appears on Terra-Cotta pots is due to the buildup of minerals from tap water. Regular maintenance can prevent this buildup, and if it does occur, it can be easily removed with household items like white vinegar and a scrubbing tool. With these simple steps, you can keep your pots clean and your plants healthy.

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Thank you 😊 This is sooo helpful.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for explaining about that problem, what it can mean, what it can cause, and how to prevent &/or fix it! :)

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