A Healthy Plant is a Happy Plant: Cleaning Tips for Plants

A Healthy Plant is a Happy Plant: Cleaning Tips for Plants

Jeremy Guttman
Oct 15, 2010

It's time to come clean—I am guilty of neglect. I am in possession of a houseplant in desperate need of a good cleaning.

Over time it is only natural that your indoor houseplants will accumulate dust and dirt. Most people don't realize, but plant-leaves have pores (stomata) that are just like our skin. These pores can become clogged making daily functions more difficult for plants, such as making food and breathing. That means the plant has a harder time moving nutrients and prevents the plant from absorbing available light. Besides dust and dirt, plants attract insects, mites, and scales that love to hang out on the underside of leaves. The best way to monitor these is with a good cleaning.

After all they do for us, isn't it time to give your plants a little love and attention?

1. It is best to clean your plants every couple of months. The first step is to identify the plant type, as all require different maintenance. For firm plants, it is best to use a soft, pliable sponge. I have found that baby sponges work well. Avoid coarse, loofa-like sponges. Even better, I find an old, but clean white T-shirt really does the trick! Moisten the sponge or t-shirt with tepid water and clean the leaves working from the base down to the tip.

2. I used to use milk to give the leaves a great shine, but I have just recently learned that milk, vegetable oil, and commercial "leaf shine" products can clog the plants pores (stomata). For extra dry plants, a touch of liquid, non-detergent soap goes a long way in giving a plant back its shine.

3. Majority of houseplants originate in the tropics, so they love to be misted. A good misting can help prevent settling dust and keeps leaves from drying out.

4. For plants with hairy leaves, use a soft cosmetic or children's brush. For day-to-day cleaning, a feather duster will help to keep dust levels to a minimum.

Comment below with your favorite plant cleaning finds and tips!

(Image: Tanya Lacourse/Apartment Therapy)

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