Gourds contain harmful dust and mold spores that pose serious health risks when inhaled. Always use extreme caution and proper safety equipment when working with gourds.
- Do not clean, cut, carve, sand or burn gourds inside of your home.
- ALWAYS work in a well-ventilated area. The safest place to work is outside.
- ALWAYS wear eye protection and a breathing mask when cleaning, cutting, carving, sanding and burning gourds. Wear a full respirator when working indoors. Indoor space must have proper ventilation and special air filtration equipment.
- Remove clothing and shower immediately after working with gourds. Mold spores cling to hair & clothing.
- Some people experience skin irritation. Wear rubber gloves when scrubbing to prevent contact with mold.
Scrubbing gourds is a messy job best left outdoors. Use a large washtub or wheelbarrow for soaking and scrubbing. Begin by soaking gourds in water with a splash of bleach. This will loosen the gunk and make scrubbing a little easier. Gourds float so cover them with a wet towel to help sink them into the water.
Copper kitchen scrubbies and a lot of "elbow grease" work best to remove dirt and mold. Scrub clean, rinse well with clean water then air dry. Do not place gourds in direct sunlight to dry. This may cause them to crack.
Some recommend adding a few drops of dish soap to your scrub water. While this does help loosen the gunk it may also affect how your decorating materials react with or adhere to the gourd's skin.
We prefer the "Do It Yourself" approach but it does take a lot of time and effort to grow, dry and clean gourds. Many gourd suppliers offer pre-cleaned dried gourds for sale online. Pre-cleaned gourds are more expensive but you'll save yourself a ton of work! Our favorite supplier is Wuertz Gourd Farm in Arizona.