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Nikki Vaughn

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WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 25: A squirrel stands on pumpkins carved into Halloween jack-o'-lanterns October 25, 2004 in Washington, DC. Historically, glowing jack-o'-lanterns, carved from turnips or gourds, were set on porches and in windows to welcome deceased loved ones, but also to act as protection against malevolent spirits. Later, as European settlers arrived in America, the native pumpkin was found to be larger and easier to carve into jack-o'-lanterns. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

With Halloween creeping closer, it’s time to break out the tools and carve up a Jack-O-Lantern. Here’s how to prevent it from becoming a rotted mess outside your home.

After slicing up the pumpkin, take care to remove all of the “guts” and seeds from the inside. Clean the interior with a solution of one tablespoon of bleach per quart of water to kill off mold. Or go all-natural with one tablespoon of peppermint Castile soap in a quart of water.

Rub petroleum jelly or olive oil on the cut surfaces to prevent drying out, while the Farmers’ Almanac suggests hairspray will also work.

Lastly, cut a hole out of the bottom for the candle rather than go in from the top. This will allow moisture to escape, plus make it easier to light.

When do you start pumpkin carving? What design are you going with this year?