How to Bleach Pine Cones

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Pine cones are a fun accent for wreaths and floral arrangements, and they also look beautiful displayed on their own on a mantel or coffee table. While they are usually associated with fall or winter, pine cones can enhance your home all year long, especially when they are bleached. Bleaching gives the pine cones an aged, whitewashed patina that works for both modern and rustic décor schemes.

Bleached pine cones can be displayed throughout the year.
Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

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Things You'll Need

Just a few simple materials will do the trick.
Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 1: Place Pine Cones in a Bucket

Line your work surface with newspapers in case the bleach splashes. Dust off any excess dirt from the pine cones and place them in the plastic bucket. For best results, bleach pine cones in small batches to make sure that the gallon of bleach will cover all the pine cones in the bucket. You can reuse the same gallon of bleach for more than one batch.

Bleach pine cones in small batches.
Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 2: Pour Bleach Into the Bucket

Slowly pour the bleach into the bucket until the pine cones are covered.

The bleach starts working right away.
Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 3: Weigh Down the Pine Cones

The pine cones need to be fully submerged in the bleach, but they will want to float up to the surface. To prevent this from happening, place a ceramic or glass plate on top of the pine cones with a brick on top of the plate to keep it down. Wear rubber gloves at this point, as you will be touching the bleach.

A plate and brick keep the pine cones submerged.
Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 4: Let the Pine Cones Air Dry

Leave the pine cones in the bleach overnight, even longer if a bright white color is desired. We found that letting the pine cones soak for 72 hours was the sweet spot for getting really white pine cones.

You will notice that the pine cones have closed up. Wearing rubber gloves, remove the brick, plate and pine cones, and place the pine cones on paper towels. Take the pine cones outdoors and let them dry naturally. As they dry, they will open up again. The process usually takes one to two weeks, depending on the humidity. Air drying them outdoors will eliminate any bleach smell.

If you wish to scent your pine cones, store them in a sealed container with several drops of an essential oil for a month.

Cinnamon is a popular scent for pine cones displayed in homes.
Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Buy materials for this tutorial:

Pine cones

Liquid bleach, gallon size