To cure gourds, harvest them before the first frost, clean them with diluted bleach and allow them to dry for up to six months, depending on the size of the gourd. Turn gourds several times during the curing period to prevent soft spots. Gourds are ready to hollow out and decorate when they are internally dry and the seeds rattle when you shake the gourds, explains Clemson Cooperative Extension.
Gourds cure best when you harvest them properly. Frost rots the gourds while they cure, so you must harvest before the weather gets too cold. Leave at least 2 inches of stem on the gourd when you cut it from the vine to prevent spoilage. Gourds that are bruised or not mature at harvest won't cure well, Clemson Cooperative Extension advises.
After harvesting a gourd, clean the exterior with soapy water and let the gourd dry. Fill a sink or large bowl with 10-percent bleach and 90-percent water. Immerse small gourds in the solution to kill bacteria, and wipe large gourds with a rag soaked in the solution, Clemson Cooperative Extension recommends. Move gourds to a warm, dry location to cure. Gourds need plenty of air circulating around them while they cure, so hang them from a rack or place them several inches apart from each other.