How to properly clean and care for terracotta pots

Terracotta pots are visually superior to vessels made of plastic. Unfortunately, over time, they acquire a patina – but this can be prevented.

Terracotta pots can be a beautiful addition to any garden or outdoor space. But, like all things, they require proper care and maintenance in order to keep them looking their best. In this article, we’ll explore the best ways to clean and care for terracotta pots so that they stay looking great for years to come. We’ll discuss the right cleaning materials and techniques, as well as tips for proper storage and protection from the elements. With these simple steps, you can ensure that your terracotta pots remain in top condition for many years to come.

How to properly clean and care for terracotta pots

The grayish-white lime efflorescence on terracotta pots comes from the lime dissolved in the water that evaporates through the fine pores in the fired but unglazed clay. If the pot also stands in cool, damp shade, green coatings of algae and other microorganisms follow soon after.

While some are happy about the vintage look and even promote the growth with a layer of yogurt or buttermilk, this patina finds little enthusiasm with others. Either way, however, you can remove the patina quite easily.

Tip: How to get rid of the patina

To remove the patina on clay pots, soak the empty pots overnight in a tub of vinegar water (100 ml vinegar to 1 l water). The lime residue can now be easily scrubbed away with a root or pot brush. Afterwards, be sure to rinse the vessels thoroughly with clear water to get rid of the vinegar.

Better to prevent right away

The patina is less pronounced if you always water with rainwater, as this contains no lime. The resulting coating can also be prevented quite well with special impregnations or linseed oil. To do this, spread the agent on the inside and outside before planting. The treatment with linseed oil must be repeated annually.

Caution, frost!

Since the impregnation closes the pores in the clay, vessels treated in this way are also largely frost-resistant. If an open-pored clay pot soaks up water in winter and it subsequently freezes, the water expands and cracks the vessel. This can be prevented with good water drainage, for example by placing the pot on tub feet, and a drainage layer in the container.

It is also helpful to water only on frost-free days and to place the pot against the house wall. There it is better protected from rain and cold. It is best, however, to use high-quality terracotta fired at more than 1,000 °C. This is particularly fine-pored and should be used only on frost-free days. This is particularly fine-pored and should therefore be frost-resistant.