Remove Mineral Deposits and Sterilize Your Plant Pots
When I can't work in the garden, most of the houseplants are dormant, and the new season's seed catalogs haven't arrived yet, I turn to cleaning.
One of my regular winter chores is to remove scale and mineral deposits from my plant pots and trays. I used to live with the chalky waterline that marked most of my pots, but now I use vinegar to clean them before spring.
Clean Mineral Deposits From Your Plant Pots
Soak your pots in a mixture of half water and half white vinegar for a couple of hours. After they've soaked, wipe them down with a paper towel. For stubborn mineral deposits, brush them with an old toothbrush or plastic scrubby. This usually works fine for me. I pour my vinegar in the sink and turn the pots half-way through soaking so everything makes good contact with the mixture.
Clean Those Tough Mineral Deposits With a Strong Vinegar Solution
If the spots still won't come out, sponge a three-quarter strength vinegar/water solution on the spots and let them sit under a damp cloth for an hour; then scrub. This will also work for spot cleaning pots that are housing your plants indoors over winter.
If you are cleaning clay pots, soak them in plain water first so they don't absorb too much acidic vinegar (they're porous).
Sterilize Your Clay Pots in the Oven
I usually go the extra step of cooking my clay pots in the oven on high heat in order to kill any bacteria or fungus. I've also known people to run them through their oven's self-cleaning cycle.
Sterilize Your Plastic Pots in the Dishwasher
I run my plastic or aggregate pots through the dishwasher if they'll fit. If I think there might be a problem with them, I'll even turn the water heater up so they'll get a hotter bath.
Buy Your White Vinegar in Volume, It's Cheaper
White vinegar is available in a half-gallon jug. I keep one under the sink for descaling, cleaning the coffeemaker, and for washing the wood laminate floor in my kitchen.
Clean Your Garbage Disposal While You're at It
Once you've cleaned your pots, pour a half-cup of baking soda down your garbage disposal, followed by your leftover vinegar. This solution will clean and deodorize your disposal and pipes.
After a good pot cleaning and scrubbing, I start getting into the spirit of spring planting.