How to Clean Pinecones for Holiday Crafts


Pinecones add a natural and virtually free element to holidays crafts. Gathering the cones can be a lot of fun, but the sticky sap and various bugs that might have made the cones their home can be a nuisance. Using a couple of easy methods for cleaning and preparation will yield beautiful cones ready for holiday decor projects.

Wash or Dry?

  • Pinecones can be washed with mild soap and water or in a solution of water and vinegar or dried for a short time in the oven to remove the sap and any bugs that might remain. Washing the cones will remove the sap completely, while oven drying will melt the sap but leave a beautiful natural sheen.

What You'll Need

  • Depending on the method you choose, you'll need:

    • Pine cones
    • A foil-lined pan
    • Mild soap
    • Soft brush
    • Vinegar (optional)
    • Rubber gloves (optional)
    • Newspaper

Gather Your Materials

  • Gather cones that are fully open and don't show signs of rot or breakage. Other cones to look for are spruce and hemlock cones, which offer some variety in color and size to make for a visually interesting display. Shake cones well to dislodge any bugs, and pick out any stray pine needles or leaves.

Water Method

  • To wash your cones, fill a sink with warm water and a small amount of soap or 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar. Submerge the pine cones in the solution for 20 to 30 minutes. Use a soft brush to remove any stubborn dirt or debris. Rinse the cones in warm, clear water. If any stickiness remains, repeat the process until they are sap-free. Spread the washed cones on a waterproof surface (such as a baking sheet) lined with several sheets of newspaper and allow to dry in a warm area for 3 or 4 days. Make sure that the cones are completely dry before you use them in crafts.

Oven Drying

  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Place the cones in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Smaller cones will take less time, while larger cones my take longer. Do not leave the oven unattended. Remove cones from the oven and allow to cool completely before using.

Tips and Warnings

  • Use caution when using the oven method, and watch for smoke or flame.
    Wear rubber gloves when handling cones to protect hands from sap.

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