How to Clean Your Plant Leaves and Make Your Houseplant Leaves Shiny


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Cleaning your plant leaves is vital to the health of your plant, especially if they are indoor plants. When they are outdoors, they’ll have the wind blowing to knock all the dust and debris off. However, inside a home, they don’t have that wind. Even if you have a fan, it’s still just going to spin the dust around the room. It’s not actually going to eliminate and spray away the dust and dirt. So we just have to make sure that we’re physically cleaning our plant’s leaves to remove them.

Why Clean Houseplant Leaves?

When we’re cleaning all the dust and dirt off our plant’s leaves, enables the plant to absorb more light with its foliage and have a healthier, happier plant. It also reduces the risk of pests. An unhappy plant will also call out to pests and have more pests come. You will not be able to spot the pests because your leaves will be so dirty. A lot of times spider mites are mistaken for specks of dust on plant leaves. Also, if you don’t clean your plant leaves regularly, then you’re not going to know that you have spider mites or some other pests (like thrips) on there as well. When you’re cleaning your plant’s leaves, there are a couple of things that you need to know to be able to safely do this.

When To Clean Plant Leaves?

The first one is that whatever cleaning product you’re using on your plant’s leaves doesn’t matter what it is, it’s going to make your plant’s leaves a little bit more susceptible to damage, especially if there are chemicals involved. So, make sure that when you’re cleaning your plant’s leaves, especially if you’re using something other than just water, you are not putting them in direct sunlight afterward. This is most important if you have something along the lines of neem oil in your plant cleaning mix or if you have some type of polish that you’re using.

A lot of times there are leaf shine products out there that people use to clean their leaves.

These products are absolutely fine and safe for your plant. You just have to be careful cleaning your plant’s leaves and then taking the chemicals that are on them and putting those leaves directly back into sunlight right away. Plant leaves need a little bit of time to acclimate, to adjust. You can have burning leaves if you end up having chemicals on your leaves and it doesn’t come off naturally with the plant.

The best time to clean your plant’s leaves is actually towards the end of the day when the sun is starting to go down, or you can pull them back and just keep them away from the light. You just don’t want to end up putting your plant directly under like a grow light or directly in sunlight immediately after because then they’re going to end up burning and having a lot of issues from there. It defeats the purpose of trying to make a healthier plant by cleaning its leaves if it’s just going to have damaged leaves afterward and it ruins all your hard work. So best just to keep the light away from your plant’s leaves until they can naturally get that off. Generally just leaving them overnight to absorb and soak up whatever you put on them will be perfectly fine. If you use just water this is not really a concern for most foliage.

What To Clean Houseplant Leaves With?

There are a couple of different ways that you can clean your plant sleeves. Mainly, the goal is just to get whatever is on your plant foliage off. If you’re doing it for pest treatments, then you want to make sure that you’re getting the underside and the stems all the way down to the base as well. Because if you miss any spots while you’re cleaning, then there could be a pest that’s going to survive to make many more pests. So, you want to make sure that you are removing anything that could be a pest.

When you’re wiping your leaves, some people like to simply put their plants in a shower.

They have a removable shower head or under a hose, and they can rinse off the leaves and kind of wipe them off that way. Other people prefer to use an insecticidal soap or a neem oil spray, and they all spray that on the foliage. Then they’ll take a soft cloth, usually an action-based or bamboo-based one because they’re going to be the softest and cause the least amount of tissue damage, and just gently wipe the leaves. You want to remove all the dust and debris that’s on there. You also want to be checking the underside of the leaves and the stems to make sure that there aren’t any pests under there. If there’s any dust clinging onto them, then you want to make sure that you’re removing them. What you use and how you use it depends on the type of foliage you are dealing with. If the leaves are big and smooth, it’s very easy to go ahead and just spray them down and then wipe them down the front, back, and stem. Easy peasy, no problem. For others, this can cause issues.

How To Clean Fuzzy Foliage?

If your leaves are fuzzy foliage, then you want to make sure that you are gently brushing them off a little bit. You’re not spraying directly so much and you want to make sure that they’re in front of a fan to get everything off of it as soon as possible. Most of the time, plants with fuzzy foliage or velvet foliage are not going to handle being sprayed down and wiped down very well. It damages all of the micro hairs on their foliage and they don’t like it very much. So you can also get brown spots and it’s just not very good, unfortunately. The majority of the time, when you’re trying to clean off fuzzy foliage, you want to make sure that you’re kind of keeping it as dry as possible and just gently wiping it off. You can use a soft bristle paintbrush. You can use just a plain white cloth. There are also microfiber cloths that can pick things up well off of your velvet leaves. There are a lot of different ways to do it and a lot of different plants need different methods to keep them safe while you’re cleaning them.

When we’re cleaning our leaves inside, it is a little bit different than what they would be getting outside. Outside they would just be getting sprayed down with water and then they would have nature naturally blow wind. It would get the water droplets off the foliage. They would have all this aeration to prevent water from sitting on the leaves. Inside our homes, unfortunately, we do not have that. So we have to adjust for that. We have to make sure that we’re not adding things to the leaves that we can’t take off, like water on fuzzy foliage.

How To Clean Trailing Houseplants?

If you have trailing house plants, the easiest way to clean them would be to take them into a bathtub or a sink and just kind of spray and rinse them down. Make sure you hang them away from bright, direct light and in an area where they’re going to get 360 degrees rotation of the air. So that way, all sides of them will have aeration going and help get all that water off.

Because if there’s a bunch of water sitting on the foliage and you just kind of lump it back into a corner where it doesn’t get much light or something, then that’s going to have a lot of issues with it. It’s going to grow fungal and bacterial issues. You’re going to lose leaves for sure. There are going to be a lot of different issues. So you want to make sure that you’re allowing your plant to hang and dry out. You could hang them on your shower hooks. You could hang them kind of back from the window. Also, you could hang them on your porch for a little bit if it’s warm enough in your area. Just keep them out of bright, direct light, especially if you used any products.

What Products Are Best?

There is a lot of online debate as to what products are best to use for your plants and which ones are not. Insecticidal soap will remove any pests on your plant at the same time as well. You can use neem oil and a natural soap as well and that will get that off. Castile soap is one of the natural soaps that are used. You just mix those two with a little bit of water. Make sure that you’re diluting it. There are a lot of different recipes out there. We’ll make a separate article for that.

The one thing that you should not be putting on your plant sleeves, though, is mayonnaise.

It is an old wives tale. It has been sworn upon for generations. But what it has been scientifically proven to do is block the pores of your foliage. Also, the acid will eat into your plants. It will not just sit there. Because mayonnaise is made out of oils, fats, and acids. So it makes it look really shiny, but its eating the covering of your plants makes it durable against UV rays, and it will cause damage to your plants in the long term.

That is in addition to the actual fats blocking the pores of your plants, that your plants will be absorbing light through and trying to breathe through as well. Just like with humans, blocking pores never leads to good things. So, just make sure not to use mayonnaise on your plants.

There are actual leaf shine products out there that you can use.

Plants.Co has a lot of safe Leafshine products on there for you. You can also go to your local big box store and they will have leaf shine products. Everybody wants beautiful, shiny leaves. Cleaning your plant’s leaves regularly is the easiest way to get this, but if you feel like you have to do a little bit more to get your leaves shiny, that’s fine. You just want to be careful of what products you’re using and make sure that they’re not going to be damaging your plant in the long term with acids and fats. Make sure it’s cleaning your leaves, not damaging them.

How Often Should We Clean Houseplant Leaves?

Part of having plants is having healthy, happy plants and beautiful, lush plants that you can enjoy looking at daily. If your plant looks sad, it looks damaged, it looks burned, dusty, dingy, gross looking, sitting there in the corner, it’s not going to make you feel good. It’s going to be sticking to all that dust and dirt and causing a hazard for you as well.

So, it’s to your benefit and your plant’s benefit for a happier, healthier environment for both of you to have your plant leaves cleaned on a regular. However, you want to do that. There are a lot of different easy ways to do that and do whatever method works best for you. Some people like to clean their plant leaves weekly. Others clean them monthly. Some people clean them seasonally. It just depends on what’s going to work best for you and your plant and your environment.

Just like dusting your home, sometimes you’re going to have a lot of dust created depending on your environment. Usually, in the wintertime. Other times you have an environment where it’s pretty clean on a regular. There’s not very much dust and debris floating around, and it’s not something that you have to take care of that often. Keeping that in mind, like anything to do with your plants, make sure you’re paying attention to your environment and doing what works best for yours.


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