How to Clean House Plant Leaves

A survey conducted by Civic Science found that approximately 66.5% of people living in the United States had at least one indoor plant in their homes.

The number of people who own plants rose by two percentage points in 2019. Additionally, the percentage of customers who have no interest in owning a plant has dropped from 27% to 26%.

The above statistics show that people around the United States are eager to infuse their houses with bits of natural beauty,  and this is why houseplants are so hot right now.

Even a single potted plant’s vivid leaves and ethereal draperies can completely change a space, while a healthy collection of greenery may provide an atmosphere that makes you feel one with nature.

However, just like any other living creatures, houseplants need to be cared for properly, and this care should involve scrubbing, dusting, and wiping them every so often.

Many individuals don’t pay much attention to the dust that collects on the luscious leaves of houseplants.

If you’re one of these people, you should know that a good dusting once in a while will have significant positive effects not just on the plants—but on you, too.

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How Often Should You Clean Plant Leaves?

When it comes to the frequency with which you should clean your houseplants or any other indoor plants, there is no hard-and-fast rule or one set standard.

A solid rule of thumb is to check on the leaves every time you plan to water them. If you see any visible dust or debris on the leaves, you need to clean the leaves right away.

On the other hand, if you have a habit of leaving windows and doors open, you may need to give your plants a deeper cleaning more often.

When to Clean Your Houseplants

Houseplants allowed to flourish in regions with a lot of wind, dirt roads, active construction, or vacant lots require frequent watering and pruning.

However, when it comes to the actual indoor plants, the amount of dust in the air should be considered when determining how often you should clean the leaves of your houseplants.

Rubbing your fingers over the leaves is the most accurate way to determine whether or not it needs to be cleaned. That’s when you either feel or see dust that can’t be blown away.

Things You’ll Need

Spray Bottle
Mild Soapy Liquid
Soft Duster or Brush
Sprayer Nozzle/Hose
Damp Cloth and Bucket
Microfiber or Paper Towel
Stiff Brush (For Cleaning Pots)

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Methods for Cleaning Houseplants

There will always be a trace amount of tiny filth and dust in the air, eventually settling on surfaces and forming a coating of grime—regardless of how clean we believe our houses are.

The procedure of cleaning the leaves of your indoor plant is straightforward but not necessarily a speedy one. The internet is flooded with methods for cleaning plants, most of which need nothing more than typical, ordinary cleaning materials.

However, some are more effective than others in certain circumstances and this may depend on the size of the plants, the sorts of leaves the plants have, and how unclean the plants are.

The approach you choose is determined by the kind(s) of plant(s) that need cleaning and the amount of time and work you are willing to put into the procedure.

Never cleaned a plant before? Don’t worry; we’ve done the legwork for you. Below, we will cover some of the easier, more general cleaning procedures that work well for houseplants that aren’t extremely dirty and then work our way up to more specific and in-depth cleaning methods.

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Wash Them in the Shower

For a more delicate plant, a quick rinse in the sink may be beneficial. However, if you have a giant plant in a pot, you can use your shower to wash its leaves.

Too much force might damage the leaves or even rip them off the plant, so this method works best if you have a showerhead that can be detached and has a setting that enables you to regulate the water pressure.

You need to transfer your plant (or many of them, if you own more than one) into the bathtub or shower. Then, using a spray bottle filled with tepid water, lightly mist the plant’s leaves until the dirt and debris have been removed.

Before transferring the plant back into its proper location, let it dry naturally in the tub. If you have to use the shower, use a paper towel or a microfiber cloth and wipe the leaves dry.

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With a Sponge and Soapy Water

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For a plant with sturdy leaves, such as a snake plant, Monstera, or fiddle leaf fig, you can use a sponge and soapy water to remove dust and other debris.

However, this approach won’t be as successful with a plant with many small leaves, such as a ZZ or fern.

Get a sponge that’s not too abrasive (to prevent the leaves from scratching) or even a gentle microfiber cloth.

Create a cleaning solution by adding one-fourth of a teaspoon of dish soap to one quart of warm water, and then dip your sponge in it until it is well saturated.

To get the leaves as clean as possible, wash them carefully while occasionally rinsing the sponge so that you don’t move the dirt from one leaf to another.

Use your other hand to hold the leaves as you clean them to prevent them from falling off as you go through the procedure.

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With a Duster or Microfiber Cloth

Is your houseplant too big to move to the shower or bathtub? Don’t worry; you can use a dry microfiber cloth or a duster to remove dust.

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Simply use a delicate cloth to wipe each leaf carefully, and if you have a giant plant, dust it with a feather duster. Certain plants have sticky or fuzzy leaves, neither of which lend themselves to being easily cleaned.

Spraying or wiping the leaves of plants like African violets, which do not appreciate having their leaves get wet, is not the solution. These plants should be watered instead.

To remove the dust from the leaves of a plant with fuzzy leaves, use a gentle brush, such as a mushroom brush, and apply very little pressure.

With a Paintbrush

Some plants, such as African violets, might benefit from the bristly texture and pinpoint accuracy of a paintbrush, while other plants, such as flowers and ferns, would be better served by a gentle tool.

The brush you should use should be smaller and gentler in proportion to the size and fragility of the plant.

For instance, you shouldn’t use a firm paintbrush on flowers since their leaves are likely to break off quickly if you do. Instead, you may try using a gentler brush designed for kids.

Dip the paintbrush in tepid water and then “paint” the leaves until the dust is gone. In any other case, use a dry paintbrush to create the effect of fuzzy leaves on the plant.

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With Compressed Air

When it comes to cleaning plant leaves, cacti and other succulents need somewhat different maintenance than average houseplants since they do not have true leaves.

To protect themselves from the dry climate in which they live, the plant sections of these organisms have a waxy covering.

This protective layer reduces evaporation, which enables the plant tissue to hold onto water, increasing the plant’s capacity to endure drought situations.

This coating may be removed from the plant by rinsing it off with water, swishing the leaves, or dipping them in the water.

Many experts in the United States recommend using a can of compressed air while cleaning cacti or succulents rather than water since this method is much more effective.

Start by holding the can at least 10 to 12 inches away from the plants and spray sweeping bursts to remove dust and debris. This will ensure that you get every last bit.

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If you don’t want to spread dust all over the interior of your house while working on this job, you may want to consider doing it outdoors, in your backyard.

It is important to remember that the plant tissue might be harmed if you spray it for an extended period since the air will get too cold or hot.

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Other Cleaning Recommendations

  • When cleaning your houseplants, remove any leaves and stems that are brown, yellow, dead, or have become loose. To remove them, use a pair of scissors that are spotless and razor-sharp. This will result in the plants looking more organized and well-maintained.
  • It is good to scrub the pots since a clean plant will not look nice when placed in a filthy container. Use a soapy or bleach water solution and give it a gentle massage with a brush.
  • To improve air circulation and make it easier for your houseplant to breathe, clear the top layer of any undesired weeds and aerate by turning it over gently at regular intervals.

Bonus Tip: Avoid Leaf Shiners at All Cost

Many houseplants have naturally glossy leaves, which sparkle even more brilliantly after receiving a thorough dusting. Even if cleaned regularly, the leaves on most houseplants eventually lose the lustrous shine of newly emerged foliage as time passes.

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This is true and quite normal even if the plants are kept in pristine condition. However, resist the urge to apply leaf shine treatments to improve the appearance of your plants.

According to The Sill, an online houseplant merchant and information source, these products, manufactured with oil or wax, might actually be detrimental to the plants rather than beneficial.

The tiny pores on a plant’s leaves may be clogged with leaf shine products, making photosynthesis and breathing more difficult for the plant. Instead, you should intensify your houseplant cleaning regimen to maintain the glossy appearance of the plant’s leaves.

Still, looking to give your plants that extra luster using leave shiners? In addition to avoiding doing it too often or on filthy leaves, the following are the fundamental guidelines for polishing.

  • Keep the polish miles away from new or very young leaves.
  • Do not press down hard on the leaves as you “rub in.”
  • Always read the instructions.
  • Do not risk it on a prized pot plant. You know, just in case.

Demystifying Common DIY Cleaning Methods

If you can tolerate the odor, a DIY neem oil spray is one of the most valuable items to make use of. It can also give the leaves a long-lasting shine and protect your plants from harmful insects.

Milk and beer are sometimes advised as “natural” ingredients that may create shine, but the reality is that their ability to produce shine is practically indistinguishable from that of using plain water alone.

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Mineral and olive oil are sometimes recommended, and while they can produce a remarkable shine, using them will only make your life more difficult in the long run.

This is because both of these substances are slightly sticky, which attracts dust and causes it to settle on plant leaves.

If we found you thinking about any of these things, we would put our hands on your shoulders and lead you away from the jars of yogurt, mayonnaise, and banana peels.

You may get the shine you are looking for, but take a step back and allow us to point out that people don’t use these items to clean their work tables, and they also shouldn’t be used on plants.

Because these items will eventually “go off” and feed bacteria, it is unsanitary to have the residue waving about on the leaves that you have just washed off.

Again, they will attract additional dust and maybe impair the beauty of the leaves in the long run.

The Final Cut

An indoor plant serves as a haven from the stresses of the outside world, and just like any other piece of decor or furniture in your home, houseplants need regular dusting.

However, unlike cleaning the baseboards, wiping off the window sill, or vacuuming the carpets in your living room, this is not a matter of aesthetics.

Your plants’ health might be adversely affected by whether or not you clean them regularly and the method you use, ultimately determined by a few criteria, such as how filthy the leaves are.

This brings us to the end of this plant care guide. Now it’s time to hear from you. Any questions, or maybe there’s something we missed? Either way, feel free to leave a comment below. Enjoyed reading this article? Share it with a plant lover.

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