How to Clean and Preserve Pinecones

Fall is upon us and this is a good time to talk about how to clean and preserve pinecones using this fail-proof method.

Our neighbors have pine trees, and they dropped their pinecones. Knowing that I love decorating and crafting they asked if I would like them. Of course, I said I’d love these! So, we grabbed them all and can’t believe how many I brought home!

Why Use Pieces From the Food Market?

Use Pieces in the Home From the Food Store

I absolutely love using natural elements in our home for fall and the holiday seasons.

  • It’s budget-friendly
  • Nuts, oranges, apples, and pears to name a few adds color and speak volumes for the cooler months ahead.

Scatter pieces from nature around centerpieces and add them to bowls and vignettes. Be careful loved ones may steal your props to enjoy for themselves as a snack.

If you have been following Cloches & Lavender you are aware I enjoy decorating with pieces from nature in our home. Especially for the fall and holiday seasons so sharing how to preserve pinecones is a must.

Bonus: Learn how to save acorns too. It’s so simple to do and these are gems from nature and look beautiful in any home decor for fall throughout Christmas! I share all the details you need for this easy process.

If you can’t save acorns this is a great shop to purchase them already finished. However, these are free in parks and the yard, and saving these acorns is faster than the pinecones so it is so worth the effort.

Have Acorns? Here’s an Easy Way to Save these for Years to Come

Saving Acorns for Décor

By the way, you may enjoy this post where I share how to preserve real acorns for years. Here I share my love of acorns. I have a collection of hundreds and I share how to clean and preserve these fall gems. My collection is going on for 20 years now. So, it should be no surprise I’d share how to preserve pinecones.

Preserved real acorn collection

You will see my large collection of preserved acorns and preserved pinecones in home tours for fall and Christmas. 

I also enjoy decorating with walnuts and dried artichokes too. Using pieces from nature speaks volumes about embracing fall and the beauty it offers for home décor and crafts.

You may also enjoy seeing how I incorporate dried oranges into my fall and holiday décor. Besides being pretty dried oranges are nature’s gift. When oranges are dried, they smell fantastic, and mixed with pinecones for example makes a beautiful combination as well.

I share how to make dried orange slices and clementine.  I also share how to use dried oranges when decorating the home seasonally. By the way, you will see pinecones used here too. Be sure to take a look for some inspiration.

Incidentally, how to preserve pinecones is easy to do and well worth the effort.

Cleaning and Preserving The Fresh Cones

Step 1: Soak Them in Dish Detergent and Warm Water

The first step, cleaning the pinecones to preserve them using dish soap. I made sure to remove any pine needles and visible dirt.

Because I have a large sink in my laundry room, cleaning the pinecones before using them was an easy job. 

I filled the sink with warm water and 1/4 teaspoon of dish soap and added the cones to get clean. After the soapy water covers the cones let them soak for 30-45 minutes, this begins the cleaning and preserving process.

Pinecones soaking in soapy warm water

By the way, I suggest wearing rubber gloves when preserving fresh pinecones because of the sticky sap. My gloves are covered in sap.

picture of why I say wear rubber gloves  because of the sap

In the meantime, grab a large towel.

Letting the Fresh Pinecones Dry

Step 2: Let the Pieces Dry Completely

Remove the pinecones from the soapy water and rinse well. Here, use a large bath towel to gather the excess water. Let the cones begin air drying overnight before the baking process to preserve them. Also, before settling in for the evening, turn the pinecones over so the other side air dries so they will be ready to preserve in the morning.

cones on towel drying after being washed

Adding The Pinecones to The Oven to Reopen

Step 3: Adding These to the Oven

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Next, use a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper before adding the cones for this easy craft. I used four large baking pans because in total we had 78 cones.

Also, it’s especially important to place pine cones in a single layer.

Because the fresh pinecones are going in the oven to preserve, this is when they will open back up.  As a result of the pinecones opening, it’s important to leave room in between each one to account for them getting wider. 

This process is important to get rid of pesky bugs.

I also advise beginning slowly with the first sheets. For my first baking sheet, I set my timer for 15 minutes. I did this because I didn’t want them to burn. So, to be on the safe side I wanted to see how the preserving process was going to work.

Pine cones getting ready to go in the oven on parchment paper and baking sheet

Since I have so many pinecones to preserve, I knew I was going to do the baking process six times. So, after the first round of baking, I began setting my timer for half an hour. Now I knew this was the perfect amount of time for the pinecones to completely open. During this process, it’s quite amazing seeing the cones close and open again.

This is also why I say take advantage of nature when decorating your home for fall and the holiday season. It’s not only free but is truly amazing to watch.

Letting the Pinecones Cool to Add to Home Décor

Step 4: Cooling the Pieces Before Adding Them to Decor

After taking the pinecones from the oven, I did add parchment paper to a cooling rack. Here, I let them cool as the next baking sheet was in the oven.

Pine cones after baking in the oven.  They are open again

If you don’t want to preserve pinecones, purchase them here on Amazon. These are affiliate links.

Lastly, I didn’t feel it was necessary to add spray varnish. I love the natural look of nature. Spraying them is optional so you decide what works best for you.

Here, you can see the preserved pinecones I added to an antique French crate for a natural touch. 


preserved pinecones in a French crate
pincones in a crate

I hope you enjoyed learning how to clean and preserve pinecones and will think about trying it for your fall, Christmas, and winter décor.

Pinecones work well for any decorating style. And these work great for wreaths, ornaments, centerpieces, and more.

Do you enjoy decorating with pieces found outside too? Do you collect pine cones and/or acorns too? As I said many times pieces found in the yard are the best because they are free! Will you use pinecones in your decor?


Preserving Pine Cones

How to preserve pine cones from the yard or a park
Prep Time30 mins
Active Time5 mins
Total Time1 d
Keyword: backyard, christmas ornaments, evergreen trees, nature, outdoors, park, pinecones, rustic
Yield: 78 pinecones


  • 1 large towel
  • 1/4 tsp dish soap
  • 1 cooling rack
  • 1 sheet Parchment paper depending on how mny pinecones are drying. 1 sheet parhment paper per baking sheet



Preserving Pine Cones

Step 1: Washing them

wash pine cones in the sink with dish soap and warm water

Step 2: Remove From Water and Let Dry

remove from the sink and let dry on a cooling rack for 24 hours – keep a towel under the rack while drying for excess water
pinecones will close from the water, no worries the oven will reopen them

Step 3: Preheat Oven

set oven to 200 degrees

Step 4: Line Baking Sheets with Parchment Paper

line baking sheets with parchment paper
add dry pinecones to the oven and they will reopen
set timer for 15 minutes and check them. After I checked I begin setting the timer for 30 minutes.

Step 5: After Timer Goes Off Make Sure They are Open Again

check to make sure pinecones reopen, if not dry another add 5 minutes
let cool and use as you wish


58 thoughts on “How to Clean and Preserve Pinecones

  1. This is really such a cool idea. I love the natural look of the pinecones after you baked them to open them up. I have a question for you. I love the spice/cinnamon scent of pine cones. If I wanted to put a scent on them when would I do that? Would it be during the baking process or when I am soaking them. Thanks for the info these are really cool Have a great week. xoxo Kris

    1. Thanks Kris. That part I’m not positive about. I think I have read it’s after they are dry.

      I believe it’s cinnamon oil.

      Tons of information on Pinterest. I’m thinking if you want natural spices add it when they are damp.

      I would ad nutmeg, a dash of clove and cinnamon.

  2. This was such a great post, Cindy! We have a ton of pinecones on our property and it would be so much fun to get to use them. I can’t wait to try this too. It’s going make decorate with them so much easier. Thank you! Hugs, CoCo

  3. Using things from nature brings a warm feeling to any home, doesn’t it? Thanks for this complete tutorial. I have quite a few pinecones that I have been wanting to preserve but haven’t been real sure how to do it. Now I do! Happy Fall!

  4. I didn’t even know preserving pine cones was a thing! Years ago, someone brought me huge ones from California. I just recently threw them out. Too bad I didn’t know to preserve them!

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