Going pumpkin picking is a classic fall pastime, but you might have some reservations about enjoying it safely in 2020. Will the pumpkin patch be crowded? Should you disinfect your pumpkin this fall? The pandemic has changed the way people do just about everything, even the simplest autumn activities.
For the most part, the pumpkin itself should not require much extra sanitization. "Bring your favorite pumpkin home and clean it as you should any fresh vegetable: rinse it with cold water to remove any dirt. Then, have fun carving. There is no need to use a sanitizer on your pumpkin," physician and scientist William W. Li, M.D. tells Romper via email. Emptying an entire can of on Lysol on your fresh gourd probably isn't necessary. "If your pumpkin fits in your sink, consider washing it with soap and water like you wash your hands. If it’s very large, I would think about wiping it down with a wet and soapy cloth," Navya Mysore, M.D. tells Romper.
For the most part, the pumpkin isn't necessarily anything to fear. "The pandemic is still with us, but we’ve learned that food isn’t a way the novel coronavirus is transmitted — it’s a respiratory virus and people become infected when they breathe in droplets and aerosols," explains Dr. Li. "What this means during October is that the pumpkin itself is not much of a risk, but you have to be careful while picking the pumpkin, especially if there are crowds."
It's old hat at this point, but following the basic social distancing guidelines, such as staying at least six feet away from others, is wise way to help protect your health.
Following the usual COVID-19 hygiene rules is wise as well, and Dr. Li also suggests wearing a mask and visiting the pumpkin patch at a time when fewer people are around. Dr. Mysore "With a number of people going pumpkin picking this year, I have been suggesting to families to make sure that you are using your hand sanitizer often when picking your pumpkin but also to make sure to wash your hands when you get home with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds," says Dr. Mysore. Whether you're carving it up for a pie or using it for decoration, totally disinfecting your pumpkin this autumn is probably not necessary, although the usual safety guidelines for COVID-19 still apply.
William W. Li, M.D., is an internationally renowned physician, scientist and author of the New York Times bestseller Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself
Navya Mysore, M.D., One Medical Provider