Bleached Single Pinecone

How to Make GORGEOUS Bleached Pinecones

Pinecones are iconic natural items to use for seasonal decor. Instead of painting or bedazzling them with glitter this year, try giving them a softer, weathered look by bleaching them!Make these Stunning Bleached Pinecones with these Tips

Bleaching pinecones requires very few supplies and is an easy project. Even so, it does take some time. When I started researching how I should tackle this process, I came across many people who said it didn’t work for them. Don’t worry, for the sake of crafting science, I will guide you on how to successfully bleach pinecones to use in your holiday decor!Bleached Pinecones Tutorial


  • Pinecones (various shapes and sizes)
  • Bleach
  • Large bucket
  • Water
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Bricks or Large Rocks

Unbleached Pinecones

Make it!

It doesn’t matter what type of pinecones you use. I gathered several different species and sizes. Each species of pinecone will bleach differently. Also, bleaching them will not turn them “white;” they will become lighter, but not pure white. It’s more of a patina or weathered look (kind of like driftwood).Bleached Single Pinecone

I used two parts water to one part bleach. It’s best to do this part outside or in a well-ventilated area. Make sure you are wearing clothes that you don’t mind ruining just in case you splash yourself with bleach water, and wear rubber gloves to protect your hands. Put the pinecones in a large bucket (I used a 5 gallon utility bucket). Fill the bucket with water first and then add the bleach. The cones will float. Push them back down into the bleach water and lay the bricks or stones on top. You might have to add another rock or two and tuck any floaters back under the rocks.Soak Pinecones in Bleach Water

Let the pinecones sit in the bleach solution for 24 hours, but no more than that. I did a check after 12 hours or so and noticed some of my smaller pinecones were already whitish.

Pinecones close up when they are wet, so if you can’t see any change because they are closed, that doesn’t mean it’s not working. Let them sit submerged in the bleach water for a full 24 hours for the full effect. Any longer than that and the pinecones will start to deteriorate in some spots.

After 24 hours, put on your gloves and work/craft clothes and remove the pinecones. I laid them out on a large piece of paper outdoors so the fumes would dissipate. To dispose of the bleach water, I poured mine in a bathtub slowly, being careful not to let any twigs or dirt go down the drain.Remove Pinecones from Bleach Water

As they dry, they will start to open up again. If it’s a sunny day, perfect! Leave them outside to completely dry. It can take a few days for them to fully open. If you are in a hurry or have a stretch of wet weather, you can dry them in your oven. Set your oven to the lowest setting (it’s usually 170-200 F) and let the pinecones dry for a couple of hours. As soon as they are open, remove them.Dry Pinecones

As they dry, you will be amazed at the transformation! They get a silvery sheen to them that will make them perfect for any type of holiday crafting. They are even pretty on their own displayed in a tall vase or bowl. However you decide to use them, making bleached pinecones is a simple project that yields beautiful results.

And just look at what you can do with them!

Make an outdoor decoration like this Simple & Elegant Natural Pinecone Swag

Make this gorgeous DIY pinecone swag with bleached pinecones

I love these bleached pinecone ornaments from Stone Gable:

Bleached Pinecone Ornaments from Stone Gable

And here is another version from the pages of Country Living. They bought these beauties from the Etsy shop Ashworth’s Art.

Bleached Pinecone Ornaments from Country Living

DIY Decor in Minutes: Pinecone Spheres

Make These Easy Pinecone Spheres - an easy nature project for festive holiday decor

About the Author : Debbie WolfeDebbie Wolfe is a mom of two rambunctious boys, wife, and work-at-home mom from Georgia. In her free time (when there is such a thing), she is in the garden or hidden away reading the latest post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama! As interests, Debbie is an obsessive crafter, home chef, and gardener. She is a freelance writer, blogger, and is a co-author and photographer behind the garden blog, The Prudent Garden; a collection of tips, crafts, and articles that highlight home gardening.View all posts by Debbie Wolfe

  1. Extravagant Gardens
    Extravagant GardensNovember 4,15

    This is such a fun and ‘fresh’ idea for Christmas decorating. I need to send my kids out to start collecting pine cones. I think everything I have from years past is spray painted gold!


  2. Bonney smith
    Bonney smithNovember 6,15

    Can’t wait to try this….

  3. Dusty Cutter
    Dusty CutterNovember 7,15

    You always have the most unique ideas – going to gather pine cones and try this. Thanks for the ideas! Have a blessed day.

  4. Marti
    MartiNovember 10,15

    I have a couple of safety suggestions. When you leave the pinecones in the bucket for 24 hours, PLEASE cover it to keep the pets and babies out of it. Water is very tempting and the bleach is bad to drink or splash. Also, the bleach doesn’t stop bleaching when it is dry and may continue to break down the pine cones over time. (You know how you can get pin holes in your white fabric things that are bleached?) I would suggest rinsing the pine cones in a baking soda/water bath to neutralize the bleach before setting them out to dry.

  5. Andrea
    AndreaNovember 22,15

    Oh my, please do not put bleached cones in the oven! Heating bleach releases chlorine gas which is what we used in WWI to choke out our enemies. I would also recommend rinsing the pine cones several times after removing them from the bleach water to get the bleach off. Or just spray paint the pine cones.

    • Joanie
      JoanieNovember 22,15

      THANK YOU!!!!!! Safety over decor please.

  6. Eleanor
    EleanorDecember 3,15

    You do so many neat things why don’t you go to Milk & Tea and do some classes?

  7. LINDA
    LINDADecember 6,15

    I have cones shaped like a open rose when dry. They will come in handy in so many crafts. Your site is great!

  8. Janice
    JaniceJuly 10,16

    Love easy pine one crafts. Thanks for details for bleaching.

  9. joyce betts
    joyce bettsAugust 30,16

    i tried several types of pinecone in bleach not turning white is their a certain type of pine to use.?

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseAugust 31,16

      Hi Joyce,
      Debbie (the author of this project) tried a few types and they did bleach eventually. But it does take some time. Perhaps you could leave them in the bleach a bit longer?

    • diane smith
      diane smithNovember 8,17

      I tried several types of cones, none turned white, some lightened, but most stayed the same, tried 18 hours the first time ,30 hours the second, didn’t rinse first time, rinsed the second, even changed out the bleach half way through the second time, lovely idea but did not work for me, I got my cones from nearby forest,

  10. Wyma Missildine
    Wyma MissildineSeptember 16,16

    I tried this but the pine cones dud not turn white, not even light.

    • Brianne
      BrianneNovember 17,16

      I tried this last weekend and it worked perfectly. I left them overnight and well into the day before remembering them. I didn’t rinse them off, but let them dry. By the 2nd and 3rd day, they bloomed and looked just like the picture. Completely uniformed. I love them!

    • Teresa
      TeresaNovember 20,16

      I did this too and mine didn’t turn either ! I’ll leave them in the solution another day.

  11. handmade by amalia
    handmade by amaliaOctober 4,16

    I’d like to give this a try, they look so pretty.

  12. Kate
    KateOctober 5,16

    Absolutely amazing! I never would have thought to do this and I love the way they came out! I really want to try this for Christmas!
    Kate |

  13. Tania
    TaniaOctober 5,16

    What a great tutorial, I’ve gotta try this! Pinned!!


  14. Nicole
    NicoleOctober 11,16

    Pinned this pinecone craft. Love how pretty they are when bleached. Thank you for linking up at the #HomeMattersParty this week.

  15. Kath
    KathOctober 20,16

    When I tried this ~ without much success ~ I used some purchased scented pine cones along with natural ones. Could the “scent” (maybe it’s an oily mixture?) have affected the entire bleaching process? Thanks for your response!

  16. Lilly
    LillyNovember 9,16

    This only works with non scented old pinecones. If you collect fresh ones that have recently fallen they will not lighten. I have tried it, they will close up fast and have an outer layer of wax that seals them up and prevents the bleach from reaching it. If you take your pinecone out of the bleach water and it has a coating you can scrape off chances are it’s not going to work. Store bought ones are older and won’t get all waxy on you.

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseNovember 10,16

      Good tip! Although the ones used for this post were a range of ages. So I think there is also some trial and error with the different pinecones you can find. Another good reason to hoard pinecones I must say!!

    • Valarie
      ValarieOctober 25,17

      I just collected a bunch of pine ones and am excited to try this. I’m wondering if freshly fallen ones would do better if rinsed off well and then dried in the oven before putting in the bleach solution? Maybe I’ll try it. Good tips everyone. Happy to find this posting to try in my crafts!

  17. Teressa
    TeressaNovember 24,16

    Fantastic! Thanks for all the detail. Do you rinse them, though? I wonder if this would work on sweet gum balls ?

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseNovember 27,16

      Hi Teressa,
      You can rinse them if you would like. I have no idea about sweet gum balls. Please try it and report back! I’m so curious now! :)

  18. Sandy
    SandyDecember 4,16

    Hello I am now bleaching mine and I actually almost went full strength bleach the first 12 hours nothing than 24 hours came still no change so I figured I would wait till today which would be now going on 36 hours and the pinecones are still the same color! So frustrating they haven’t broken down which is a good thing and are straight off the trees so I cannot blame the stores I figure I’ll wait a few more hours and if nothing I’m taking them out to dry and spray paint them sadly wasted time and a lot of bleach..

    • Maria
      MariaJanuary 23,17

      Hi Sandy I think I won kike the bleach smell after they dry it will steel smell so I think I will use them natural or paint them just like to know what the best oil to give them the cinnamon smell ,thanks for the o
      Information on your experience trying to bleach them .

  19. Helen Fox
    Helen FoxJanuary 13,17

    Its possible that the pine cones that don’t open are too new/fresh/waxy try to get the ones that have been on ground a while

  20. charlotte
    charlotteOctober 30,17

    I was so excited to do the pine cones. I went out and gathered ones not quite open. I soaked them over 24 hours lifted them out with lifter I used to pick them up with. Let them lay on white paper 24 hrs, Not one of them has opened up and only bleached to a silvery shade. SAo disappointed

  21. Susan
    SusanNovember 6,17

    Chlorine bleach, which is like ordinary laundry bleach, will remove mold and dye color from wood, but not the wood’s natural color. To actually remove color from wood or a pine cone you need to use caustic sodium hydroxide to remove color and hydrogen peroxide to neutralize the caustic sodium hydroxide. Posting projects that don’t actually work is really annoying.

  22. Victoria
    VictoriaNovember 19,17

    I did this last year with some old ones given to me. Some bleached fine, others not. Just took out about a dozen and letting them dry. They were left over from last year. Hoping they will bleach better being so old. Will follow up when finished.

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseNovember 20,17

      Thanks for the note. Please do keep up updated. The different types seem to have different results for sure. I have tried a number of them now with the best results being those cones that are older, dried, and fully open.

  23. Pauline
    PaulineNovember 21,17

    Do you need to use “fresh” pinecones, or will it work on ones that are several years old?

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