To dry decorative gourds, wash and dry them, apply disinfectant, and cure them in a safe location for three to four weeks. Gourd preservation works best on mature fruit with brown, shriveled stems.
Wash the gourds with water and mild soap, and rinse them with a mixture of disinfectant and water. Gently dry the gourds with a towel. Spread newsprint in a safe location, and set the gourds on the paper. Leave them on the newsprint for one week. Rotate them daily.
Inspect the gourds at the end of the week, and discard any that display softening, mold or rotten areas. Wipe them with a towel dipped in household disinfectant, and set the gourds on fresh newsprint. After three to four weeks, they are ready for decorative use.
Dried decorative gourds do not require further preservative treatment and may be displayed in their natural states. To give gourds a glossy finish, rub them with wax at the end of the second drying period. Sealing gourds with wax is particularly important when carving designs into the fruit. Use a liberal quantity of clear furniture wax, and be sure to cover the carved areas completely. Reapply the wax several times per year.