How to Clean Pine Cones for Crafting

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Pine cones make an awesome all-natural crafting supply, but spoiler alert: they have to be cleaned and prepared first before using them for crafts! Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think it might be. Read on to learn how to clean pine cones for crafts.

pinecones in a basket

If you have kids, you’ve probably seen some great potential crafts to make with them that use pine cones. From bird feeders to ornaments on a Christmas tree, party décor and everything in between, pinecones are a versatile and natural item to use for crafting.

You can order them online or find them at your local craft store, but they’re also pretty easy to find for free wherever pine trees are growing.

The odds are that you’ve seen a great craft using pinecones before and wondered: do I need to clean pine cones before crafting?

The answer is a resounding YES! It’s a very good idea to clean them before using pinecones for a craft. Luckily, there is a simple and natural way to clean and prepare your pinecones for crafting.

large pinecone found outside

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How to Clean Pine Cones

If you have no idea where to start when it comes to cleaning and preparing pine cones for crafts, don’t worry. It’s a really simple and easy process, with no chemicals involved.

In just a little bit of time, your pine cones will be ready to go for your next project, kids craft or tablescape.

Do pine cones need to be cleaned?

I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea that pine cones needed to be properly cleaned and prepared for crafting. I thought that you could just let them dry out after giving them a quick rinse, but guess what: that’s a terrible idea.

It sounds like a no brainer, but in addition to dirt and sticky sap, little bugs love to live in pine cones. Leaving them to “dry out” isn’t actually a thing, because those pesky bugs will continue to party and thrive. So if you want to incorporate them into your décor or crafting, you need to learn how to clean pinecones first.

group of pinecones on counter

Supplies needed for cleaning pinecones

In order to properly prepare and clean pine cones, you need to gather a few supplies:

Pine cones

Dishwashing soap


Warm water

Scrub brush (not one you use for dishes) or old toothbrush

Baking sheet or cookie sheet

Parchment paper or aluminum foil

How to Clean Pine Cones for Crafts

Learning how to clean pine cones in the oven will help you make sure pine cones are bug free!

First, using paper towels, wipe off any large chunks of visible dirt, pine needles or other materials. Using the scrub brush or another small brush, gently scrub the outside and in between the scales of the pine cone. This helps to remove any dirt, needles and loose seeds.

Next, add the pine cones to a small bucket filled with a little bit of dishwashing soap and warm water or hot water. If you are using large pinecones, you might need a large bucket, or you can even fill your kitchen sink. If they are small pinecones you can use a large bowl.

pinecones in a bucket

Gently scrub the pinecones and allow them to soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

It’s important to note that pine cones will close up when wet. This is totally normal, and they will open back up once they are totally dry!

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and place pine cones in a single layer on it. Bake your wet pine cones for 20-25 minutes.

pinecones laying on a baking sheet

Be sure to keep an eye on your oven during this time, as oven temperatures can vary and you want to make sure your pine cones don’t burn.

If you’d like, you can also try cleaning pine cones using warm water and white vinegar, with one cup of water to a half cup of white vinegar. Use enough of the mixture to fully submerge the pine cones in the water-vinegar solution for 20 to 30 minutes and rinse them well before baking. You can also lay them on a flat surface for air drying.

cleaned pine cones

More craft posts you might enjoy:

Easy Pumpkin Crafts for Toddlers

Toddler-Friendly DIY Fall Wreath with Easy Air Dry Clay Recipe

DIY Christmas Crafts for Toddlers

Leaf Man Craft for Kids

pinecone craft

Cleaning Pine Cones for Crafts is Easy

Dry pinecones make great rustic decor for weddings and the holiday season, especially when you can get them for free in your own yard.

Whether you choose to use warm water and dishwashing detergent, or hot water and white vinegar, cleaning pine cones for crafting is simple. Remember: if you plan to use fresh pine cones you’ve found outside for indoor use, don’t skip this step! Otherwise, you might find dozens of tiny pests surprising you.

Beautiful pine cones can be found in so many different sizes, and this simple method is an easy way to prepare them for your next craft project.

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