How to Bleach Pine Cones

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How-to-bleach-pine-cones-feature non sandy | Country Design Style |

It’s been busy around our household.

The living room is getting a new look.  There are wheels, and gears and stacks of books.

An extra large crate and measuring tape under glass.

Plus new furniture and rug.

What’s not in sight??

No pumpkins, no acorns, no autumn leaves, and no bleach pine cones…


How to Bleach Pine Cones

I’ve been wanting to try this for months.  I assumed it would be easy.  I bleach my socks…sometimes.  However, I did decide the pine cones shouldn’t go in the washer. 😕

Pine cones are plentiful where we live.  We live in one of the largest stands of Ponderosa Pines in the world.


Supplies used to bleach pine cones

Two buckets  {Make sure one fits into the other}
Clorox Bleach
Brick or rock or something to weigh down pine cones.  {in the image below, I used a bottle of vinegar}
Pine Cones
Baking Soda
Rubber Gloves

The Steps

Step 1.  Add pine cones into one bucket and wash with warm water.  Toss out the water and add the pine cones back into the bucket.

Step 2. Put on your rubber gloves.  Add approximately 1 1/2 liters of bleach.  I buy Clorox and not sure of the results with other brands.  Add 1/2 liter of water.  Let sit in a safe area away from pets or children.  I did this in our laundry room sink.  This time of year our windows are open and I do use the sink for soaking and cleaning.  If the smell is strong, set outside.


Step 3. Add the second bucket down into the first bucket.  Add a weight to keep the pine cones down in the bleach.  Wait at least 24 hours.  As a result of being wet pine cones close and stay closed until dry.

Note:  I started this on a Thursday morning.

The Soak


On Friday morning, the pine cones still looked brown.  I added about 2 more cups of bleach.  On Saturday morning, the pine cones still looked brown.  On Sunday morning, they still looked brown with lighter tips.  So I went onto step 4.

Step 4.  Carefully, pour out the bleach.  Note:  You can do batches using the same bleach water.  Since the pine cones were closed I wasn’t sure of the results.  Now, I wish I would have done several more batches!

The Rinse

Step 5.  Rinse the pine cones with warm water well.  Then sprinkle with about 1/3 cup of baking soda add more water and swish around.  Drain.  I added the baking soda to help with the smell of the bleach.

Note:  Do not place these pine cones in the oven to dry!!  The bleach and even a low temp oven do not go well.


Step 6.  Leave the pine cones outside to dry and open.  It took a week for mine to open.

A long week.

But it was worth the wait.


The bleached pine cones along with unbleached.

Now to go a step farther with your bleached pine cones

How to Bleach Pine Cones and add sand | Country Design Style |

Bleached and sandy pine cones.


I found a small bag of sand at our dollar store.  It’s used as filler for vases and comes in different colors.  I thought the regular sand color would be perfect with the bleach pine cones.


First, add sand to a small dish.

Second, lightly cover a pine cone with spray glue.


Third, quickly roll pine cone in the sand.  Done!


As a result…

Bleached and sandy pine cones!



If you try this with store bought pine cones, be aware some may have an oily coating for scent or color.  Those may not get the same results.

I was thrilled when Hometalk asked if I would share the tutorial for bleaching pine cones on their FB page!!


In reality, different types of pine cones may have different results too.  We are working with nature.


I made a pine cone wreath using delicate fir pine cones.  The bleaching process could be too hard on their thin scales.


Above are the bleached pine cones left for 24 hours in 100% bleach AND left to dry for two weeks.  The yellow I mentioned in the Hometalk live video has turned to a creamy beautiful color!  Stunning!!


Finally, let me know in comments below if you plan on or have tried bleaching pine cones.

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  1. I just subscribed and I’m loving all of your great ideas. Can’t wait to see all your great ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I like this. The last time I brought pine cones into my house to use as fire starters in my fireplace, the pine cones exploded with tiny black spider like bugs. The warm atmosphere inside my home caused them to emerge from hibernation. My house is a two-level colonial and the bugs were on the ceiling and in the carpet. I hired an exterminator to debug my house. I should have used your technique of bleach soaking and drying them. Anyway, I just love the idea of pine cone as display decor and yours with the sand sprinkles are beautiful. But, I must add, those bug infested cones made a lovely popping and crackling sound while me and my dogs cozied up under the blankets in front of it…if we only knew what was in store.

    1. Oh my gosh, Tanya! Thank you for sharing your spider story. I brought in a log to display on the coffee table after only using a brush to clean the log. I found a couple of ants on the table. The whole display went out the door. Now I use very hot water with dish soap to clean anything coming inside…or bleach! 🙂

  3. I have lots and lots of pinecones…I might have to try this. I like the way they look especially with the sand!

    1. Thank you for visiting and reading, Cecilia. I know you will love the pine cones. I’m making more this weekend!!!

    1. Carol Johnson says:

      Just love reading your ideas. Can’t wait until we get home next June. Miss seeing you, but have so many fun memories of you and Mike.

      Carol and Richard

      1. Hi, Carol!!! I was just thinking about you and Richard a couple of days ago. I miss you and are anxious to hear all about your adventure when you get home. I sometimes think it would be exciting to step away and live an adventure for awhile. Hugs, Jeanette

    2. Thank you, Nanvy for catching my mistake. It’s baking soda. I corrected it in the post too! Let me know if your pine cones turn out bleached too! 🙂

      1. “soda” and “powder” in this paragraph…

        The Rinse

        Step 5. Rinse the pine cones with warm water well. Then sprinkle with about 1/3 cup of ***baking soda*** add more water and swish around. Drain. I added the ***baking powder*** to help with the smell of the bleach.

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