How to Sterilize Potting Soil in the Oven


Starting plants out right includes not only giving them all the things they do need, but also none of the things they don't. Potting soil can be used again and again, but it should be sterilized so you are not introducing disease or unwanted organisms to your new plants. Commercially-prepared potting soil is treated to get rid of these pests. Taking a little time and a few precautions can help keep your plants healthy.

Things You'll Need

  • Used potting soil
  • Water
  • Large oven-proof container
  • Aluminum foil
  • Meat or candy thermometer
  • Put moist, but not wet, potting soil in a large, oven-proof container.

  • Cover the container with aluminum foil, pinching it around the edges to make sure it is sealed.

  • Tear a small hole in the center of the foil cover.

  • Insert meat or candy thermometer into the hole, burying the bulb end about halfway into the soil.

  • Place the pan of soil into a 200- to 250-degree Fahrenheit oven.

  • Check the temperature periodically until the temperature in the middle of the soil reaches 160 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The time will vary based on the amount of the soil.

  • Remove the soil from the oven when it reaches this temperature. Allow it to cool and then use as you would any other potting soil.

Tips & Warnings

  • Dry soil is difficult to sterilize, so make sure the soil is moist when you start the process.
  • Baking soil can give off an odor, so you may want to do this when you can provide some ventilation.
  • Once you have sterilized the soil use only clean, sterile working areas, tools and containers to avoid reinfecting the soil.

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  • Photo Credit Green seedings image by dakota from
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