We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

What Causes the White Film on Terracotta Pots?

Terracotta pots with white staining sit in front of a small shovel.
Cora Mueller/Shutterstock.com

If you love the look of terracotta pots in your garden and adorning your outdoor spaces, you’ve likely noticed that they can discolor over time. Specifically, they start to get white staining.

What causes the white staining on terracotta pots, and can you get rid of it?

There are two bits of good news about that white film. First, it’s not your fault. You’re still an A+ plant parent. The other bit of good news is that it can be removed.

Hard water is what’s causing that clay-colored crust. Hard water—which is often the tap water you use to water your plants—contains a mix of minerals and salts. Over time, as the water you use evaporates, those salts and minerals get left behind and create that film.

If, however, you have softer water and still seem to be developing the white film, it could be because of your fertilizer. Many of them contain minerals, and just like with hard water, those minerals will build up over time creating the same crust.

Yishang Large Terracotta Pots

Grab some new pots to add to your collection.

No matter how your white film happens, though, it’s completely harmless. If you like a more weathered look to your pots, you can simply leave them there and add some character to your space.

For those who do want to remove it, though, it’s a simple process. You’ll need to remove your plant. Then, create a solution of one part vinegar to 20 parts of water. Soak the pots for 30 minutes, and then scrub them. Rinse with water and allow it to dry. For spot cleaning, create a baking soda and water paste and simply scrub the places clean.

The next time you’re outside doing some spring gardening and notice some white crust on your pots, don’t stress. You can keep it or remove it.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »
LifeSavvy is focused on a single goal: helping you make the most informed purchases possible. Want to know more?