How to Clean Houseplant Leaves

Clean Houseplant Leaves

Cleaning plants is a part of houseplant care that often goes overlooked. Houseplants can become dusty and dirty, just like everything else. Cleaning the leaves helps the plants look their best, but it also helps them thrive.  Find out why and how to clean houseplant leaves.

Why Clean Houseplant Leaves

Dust buildup on foliage is unsightly, and it’s also bad for the plants. Even a minor case of dirt buildup can make the leaves appear subdued, so the bold pink of a Calathea rosy or the lovely variegation of a Snake Plant laurentii may not pop the way it should.

A thin layer of dust may not seem like a big problem, but it partially blocks light, so it can be detrimental to a plant’s overall health, especially if the plant is not cleaned for an extended time and the dust becomes thick. Plants need to soak up sunlight to conduct photosynthesis. Foliage may turn yellow or fade if plants do not receive the necessary sunlight. Wiping vegetation clean ensures it can absorb the sun’s rays and be healthy.  

Be On The Lookout

Cleaning houseplant leaves is a great way to inspect the plant. Yes, you’re wiping away dust and grime, but you should also keep your eyes peeled for signs of damage or pests. Inspecting the plant will alert you to changes in the plant, like not enough or too much sunlight or damage from pests. Catching a problem right away is the best-case scenario because fixing a small issue is easier than a big one. Another perk of inspecting your plants is you may notice new leaves or flower buds, so you’ll be able to enjoy the progress.

Cleaning Tips

The most effective way to clean houseplant leaves is to rinse the plant or wipe the foliage down with a damp cloth. Place the plant in a sink or tub and gently spray the leaves using room temperature or lukewarm water — time showers when the houseplant needs water to avoid overwatering. 

Gently shake the plant to get rid of excess water after the rinse and let water drain from the container. Most plants can immediately return to their usual location and air dry. If the rinse didn’t completely remove the dust, it may be necessary to dry the plant using a cloth. Wipe down the leaves, taking care not to damage the plant. If easier or when working with large plants, you can clean the plant in its regular spot. Simply wipe the leaves off using a clean, damp cloth.  

Some plants, like Orchids and African Violets, cannot handle rinsing in a sink or shower, so you’ll need to gently dust the plant and clean the leaves with a dry cloth. 

Clean Houseplant Leaves

Be Careful

Know what you’re getting into beforehand by understanding any unique traits of the plant. Dessert cacti have sharp spines, so they must be handled carefully. While the Ponytail Palm looks harmless, the edges of the leaves are sharp, so be careful and consider wearing gloves when handling and drying the plant.

Remove Debris

Removing dirt and dust from houseplant leaves is essential, and while you’re at it, trim away dead or damaged growth and remove debris from the soil. Dead leaf bits or fallen flowers are prone to become moldy and may attract pests, so get rid of them.

Stay With It

Cleaning houseplants may seem like another chore, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Keeping up with routine care can be easy, and it keeps your plant healthy. Find a system that works for you. Maybe you clean one plant per week or block out a Saturday morning and take care of all of them at once. Do what is easiest for you to clean houseplant leaves and help your plants thrive.