I have recently seen some pumpkins being curved for Halloween into jack-o'-lanterns and noticed it in some cases they are also being decorated with paint.

I understand that pumpkins should normally be composted, but are they still safe to compost if they have paint on them? Or would this cause a problem with growing plants in the future using the soil made from this compost?

  • Who is doing the painting? If it is being done by children, then the paint should be safe. No guarantee, of course, but the kinds of toxicity that you are worried about are getting rarer in domestic settings. However, I don't know enough about this or the source of your pumpkin paint to offer an answer .
    – M Juckes
    Oct 12, 2020 at 6:54

2 Answers 2


@LazyReader's answer gives some good advice about the types of paint that can and shouldn't be composted, but you could still try a couple of things if you're unsure what type of paint was used before you chuck the whole pumpkin away:

Wipe the paint off with water

@MJuckes raises a good point that some paints might come off with a bit of water and a light rub with a cloth or rag. This is especially true if it's decorated with the types of paints that kids might use.

Use Vegetable Oil as a solvent

Veg Oil can be used as a light (and biodegradeable) solvent. Depending on the amount and type of paint used, this should be able to remove most of the paint from the pumpkin skin. Simply apply the oil with a rag and some light rubbing.

Note that other household oils (such as Olive Oil) aren't quite as good, but if it's all you have on hand it may be worth giving it a shot.

Scrape/Peel/Cut off excess paint

Use a knife, putty knife, razor blade or potentially even a potato peeler to manually scrape or cut off areas of paint (and likely, some of the pumpkin skin too!), leaving the rest of the pumpkin to be composted properly. Any leftover paint & pumpkin flakes could then be disposed of separately.


If it's synthetic paint probably not, natural paints are biodegradable and free of petrochemical ingredients if they're made using natural oils (Linseed, etc). Conventional paints made using petrochemical additives, no. You can use a lemon zester, a file or sandpaper to eliminate the paint. Then compost the pumpkin

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.