Cleaning a Gourd
Cleaning gourds is normally done after they have dried, but can also be done before they dry. Cleaning a dry gourd is a simple process. Wear your repirator, cover your dry gourd with a wet towel to prevent the release of mold spores, wet the entire surface by sqeezing in on it, not rubbing it. Once the entire surface of mold growth is thuroughly drenched, the wipe the mold off the surface with a 10% bleach solution.
Take the gourd into your cleaning bucket or sink, and soak it in warm water for about a half hour or so, (mild detergent is optional). It helps to cover the gourd with a wet towel while it soaks, this helps to keep the entire surface damp.
Once the gourd has soaked, it can be cleaned by scrubbing the skin off with a copper Choreboy or something similar. We do not recommend steel wool as it can turn the surface brown from the tiny particles of steel rusting.
Another method is to set them out in the yard and cover them with straw or hay, drench them thuroughly with a hose, and let them remain wet for about 2 to 3 days. The skin in many cases if they remain properly wet, will mostly slide right off the gourd.
Green Cleaning A Gourd
You can clean smaller gourds by scraping the skin off using the backside of a table knife. The process of green cleaning gourds has the benefit of the gourds drying out much faster and the dry gourd has a whiter and mostly blemish free surface. This is a very desirable effect for pyrography and pen or pencil art, and also helps with staing art since the skin is whiter which boosts the colors and yields a greater contrast.
Small gourds like jewelry gourds and small bottle gourds typically under 4-5 inches in height are the most suitable for green cleaning. Larger gourds will wrinkle and crack if they are green cleaned. We don't know exactly why this is, or if a thickness of 1/2 inch or more might allow for successful green cleaning, but our experience is, larger gourds do not green clean successfully. The largest gourd we have green cleaned is a Hyakunari bottle gourd about 10-11 inches in height, and weighing in around 8 pounds fresh. Larger gourds can be rot cleaned as talked about in our Gourd Reoprt Vol 1.
The Gourd report is purely experimental, if you try using some of the proceedures like oven drying and boiling, do not use gourds that are extremely important to you or gourds you don't have plenty of, as there is a good chance your gourd will be ruined. :-(
Dan Dunkin - The Gourd Reserve