Many gardeners love the convenience of using Smart Pots to grow vegetables and flowers but aren’t sure if it’s safe to clean and use them again for next season’s crop.
The answer is yes, you can clean Smart Pots, and I show you how!
Inside this Smart Pot Re-Use Guide, I discuss the reusability of Smart Pots, how long they last, and the steps to safely clean them so you can start a new garden crop without worry.
Even though Smart Pots are affordable, you can help the environment and your wallet by extending their life, so keep reading!
Are Smart Pots Reusable?
Yes, you can reuse Smart Pots if you take care during the growing season to avoid rips or damage to the fabric, and you follow steps to wash them correctly.
Smart Pots are a convenient “raised-bed” garden for growing:
- Vegetables (even root crops)
- Fruit or ornamental trees
- Establishing shrubs
- Plant propagation
I especially like the ability to build my Smart Pot inventory by reusing current sizes and purchasing a few new ones each year, like the wide-bed Smart Pot. With this method, I always have the perfect size available for growing any type of plant.
A common question is whether or not it’s wise to reuse a Smart Pot after you find the plants or soil inside are suffering from a pest or disease issue. Luckily, Smart Pots allow you to treat and disinfect the fabric without harming the material. This ability means you don’t have to worry about transferring harmful microorganisms into a new crop.
It feels good knowing it’s safe to clean and recycle Smart Pots year after year, which helps eliminate excessive waste going to our already-strained landfills.
How Long Do Smart Pots Last?
Many gardeners assume that the low-cost of Smart Pots means they are a one-time-use product, but with general care, most should last between three to five years.
Does the manufacturer mean actual years of use, or does that mean they assume you’ll use it only one time per year?
For avid gardeners like me, you may be growing several crops a year within the same Smart Pot, so following their general care instructions may not maintain the bags in good condition for up to five years.
The way to increase Smart Pot longevity is to avoid dragging the pots around when full, which could rip or wear away the fabric. I also take the basic cleaning instructions a few steps further.
When I combine watchful use of my bags during the growing season and follow the Smart Pot cleaning steps below, I achieve great results, which I am confident will extend the life of my pots beyond five years. I have quite a few that are already seven or eight years old, so the quality of Smart Pots is impressive.
WARNING: For long-lasting durability, be careful that you are buying genuine Smart Pots and not an inferior knock-off that may only work for one season before falling apart.
While my older Smart Pots don’t look as lovely as my newer ones, the fabric still holds its shape, and it functions perfectly, so taking the time to care for the pots is worth the effort.
How To Clean Smart Pots
Follow these steps to properly clean your Smart Pots so you can reuse them safely.
Cleaning Empty Smart Pots
- Dump out the interior soil and remaining plant matter. Shake the pot upside-down lightly to clear away loose dirt. Allow the bag to sit open in the sun to air dry. You can also set the pot in a room with low humidity to dry out.
- Once the fabric is dry, use your hand or a soft brush to remove the remaining dirt gently and root hairs still stuck to the fibers.
- Mix up a batch of water and OxiClean, or other non-chlorine bleach and hand or machine wash your Smart Pots. I prefer hand-washing to avoid agitating the fabric, but a front-load washer also works safely. Cleaning with non-chlorine bleach sanitizes the material without breaking down the fibers, so the pots last longer.
- Rinse the bags thoroughly with water.
- Set the open bags on a clean surface to air dry fully. Never toss the bags into the dryer because the heat will ruin the rigidity of the material and distort the fibers and ruin the shape of the Smart Pot.
- Once dry, you can immediately reuse the pot or fold them up and store them in a closet, shed, or garage for the next growing season.
Cleaning Full Smart Pots
If your pots are full of soil and live plants, you can still clean any mineral deposit build-up or moss growth off the exterior of your Smart Pots by following these steps:
- Mix a cup or two of baking soda into a half-gallon of water.
- Dip a soft-bristle brush into the solution and gently scrub the exterior material of the pot, taking care to not dig into the fabric fibers. Repeat scrubbing until you remove all signs of debris.
- Gently rinse off the exterior of the pot with water.
- Leave the pot in place to air dry the fabric before watering the plants again. Letting the fabric dry will decrease the chances the debris build-up will form again quickly.
Cleaning and reusing your Smart Pots is not only environmentally-friendly but also an extremely cost-efficient way to increase your garden’s size and productivity.
I hope you follow the recommendations in this Smart Pot cleaning guide so that your pots maintain their shape and integrity and also remain debris and bacteria-free. Taking time to care properly for your Smart Pots means you can enjoy their use for many years to come!