Cleaning Houseplants

by Doris Donnerman
(last updated April 18, 2016)


When dirt, dust, and grime build up on plant leaves, this means the plant can become vulnerable to pesky little insect pests. The dirt and dust act as a filter to the sun's rays. Blocking the sun seems to allow the insect pests a wonderful place to live. There are easy ways to clean your houseplants and some of the ways do not take much time at all.

You can tell when it is time to clean the leaves of a live household plant by either just looking at it and seeing the dust, or rubbing the leaf very lightly with your fingers. If you can feel the dirt and grim, it is time to clean the leaves.

You will want to dust and clean your plants about every three months. Plants in the kitchen get extremely dirty and get dirty faster than any other plants in the house. This is due to the grease in the kitchen, which seems to attract dust and grime, so you may want to clean them about every two months.

The way in which you clean houseplants depends on the types of houseplants you have. To clean all plants except for the type that are hairy (they require a different cleaning technique altogether), start by dusting them. Be careful not to use anything that is too abrasive. A good idea is to use a brush that is made specifically for cleaning plants; you can purchase one at most any nursery.

Another idea is to give your plants a shower. Just place the plant into the shower and turn the water on. Make sure the water temperature is not too hot and not too cold; you don't want to shock or burn the plant. Let the plants get a good soaking. Turn off the water and let the plants stay in the shower for about an hour so that they dry off. Waiting for the hour also prevents you from dripping water all over your house.

Another way to clean your plants is to use a little dish soap and warm water. Take either a paper towel or soft cloth and dip it into the water. Wash the plant one leaf at a time. Start at the base of the leaf (where the leaf is attached to the stem). Being very gentle, wipe the leaf moving towards the tip of the leaf. After using the warm soapy water, rinse with clear water. You will want to dry the plant afterwards using the same motions as with washing the plant. If you do not rinse with the clean, warm water you run the risk of leaving behind soap residue which will clog the stomata and not allow the plant to "breath." This cleaning method will leave the plants looking shiny.

Another method that I've tried is to use the inside of a banana peeling. Take the inside of the peel and wipe the leaves using the same motion of starting at the base of the leaf and moving toward the tip of the leaf. This will not hurt the plant and it does give the plant a nice shine. (Some folks even suggest using banana skins to clean your houseplants.)

One of the oldest tricks of cleaning non-hairy plants is to use milk. Get a little bowl of milk and a soft cloth. (You can even use a cotton ball.) Saturate the cotton ball or cloth with the milk and wipe the plants. The milk doesn't seem to hurt the plant at all and leaves the plant looking shiny.

If you want to use a leaf-shine product to make the plant look shiny you can purchase these products at the nursery. They do damage the plant over time, though. The leaf-shine products seem to clog the stomata and then the plant cannot breathe and soon dies.

Author Bio

Doris Donnerman

Doris is a jack of all trades, writing on a variety of topics. Her articles have helped enlighten and entertain thousands over the years. ...


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What is 4 + 4?

2016-05-06 12:09:58


I like the idea about using milk to clean the houseplants. Does this work on prayer plants?
Thanks, Ellie

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