Your green leafed friends can accumulate a noticeable dull patina of household dust (aka your skin flakes and dirt) over a period of time untended. With the rainy day weather keeping you inside, now is a good time to revive them to their full luster with a little bit of TLC. Your photosynthesizing friends will love you for it.
What You Need
Mild dishwashing soap (sans degreaser) or insecticidal soap
Paper towel or reusable cloth
Spray bottle or bowl
Duster/Swiffer cloths (optional)
1. Begin by trimming any dead or decaying leaves. Now's an excellent time to give your houseplant the equivalent of a haircut. Just a trim, nothing drastic.
2. We like to begin by simply dusting or using a Swiffer sheet gently across the leaves of our plants to remove as much dust before moving onto using the liquid solution. This will make cleaning easier, since you'll have less filth to deal with when mixing a moist surface with a dusty one.
3. Mix in just ¼ teaspoon of dishwashing soap with lukewarm water in a bowl or mix inside spray bottle. You want et mixture to be slightly sudsy, but not a bubble bath. Be sure not to use a soap with a degreaser in it; degreasers can harm the leaf cuticle.
4. For plants with smaller, multiple leaves, wrap the top of the soil with aluminum foil, flip the potted plant over and swish them in a bucket of warm water with a little mild soap, then rinse with clean water.
5. Using a spray bottle or moistened towel, gently brush across leaves to remove accumulated dirt. Do not oversoak or go over leaves too many times (you risk bruising).
6. A great tip noted by one of our readers is to add a bit of shine afterward is to add a tiny dollop of mayonnaise (just a little, Dagwood, you're not making a snack) onto a moistened cloth and wipe across the most visible leaves. The oil in the mayo will leave your plants shiny...will instill a strong desire to make yourself a sandwich and some potato salad.
(Images: Gregory Han)
Originally posted March 23, 2007