Just like other surfaces in your house, your houseplants can collect dust and dander and may need to be cleaned from time to time. The reason it is important to clean these off is because the build up can block essential plant functions like photosynthesis and respiration. I always recommend to think about a plant’s natural environment to think about how to best care for it and in a natural environment it rains and the rain cleans the leaves. Along with dusting, a good cleaning also helps wipe out any plant pests that may be hiding in your plants. Not to mention, dusting a plant off can revive its beauty and might make you fall in love with its foliage all over again. All of the tools to clean your plants can already be found in your house; water and your hands will do the trick most of the time but a cloth is perfectly acceptable as well. Be wary of leaf cleaning and leaf shining products as they usually contain oils that block the plants “pores”; while this may not definitively hurt your plant it may not be worth the shine that doesn’t come naturally to that plant. Another product to consider critically is dish soap. Many sources recommend using a light bit of dish soap mixed in with your water to clean leaves and it can even harm pests, however some argue that dish soap isn’t actually natural and can strip the plant of oils it produces itself for pest control and other protective measures.
To clean your leaves you can either use a damp rag to go around and wipe down your leaves or you can put them under a sprayer either in your sink, shower or even outdoors. If you use a sprayer in the sink or shower, be sure to use a method that will not send any soil down your pipes. When cleaning be sure to use either your hand or a rag to wipe down the top and the bottom of leaves… I know… I know… dust isn’t on the bottom. Yes! But some pests like to hang out there. Also I know nobody is there to wipe leaves down in nature however it rains more frequently to knock off dust and there are insects in nature that will eat plant pests.
After cleaning you can pat your leaves dry with a rag or you can let them sit to dry. If you take your plants outside to shower them, do not let them dry while in any direct sunlight as they can get sunburn. Again think about plants in nature, they are ROOTED down and don’t move from spot to spot so popping them out in more sunlight than they are used to can result in burned leaves.
If you would like to take an additional step against pests and bacteria you can use a product like neem oil or insecticidal soap to spray down all foliage. You can let this dry on the foliage or you can rinse it off after letting it sit for a few minutes. While most plants are totally fine with these products drying on them, an argument could be made that they also could potentially block the plants pores so be sure to do a spot test on each plant if you want to let these products sit.
To give your leaves an extra shiny polish simply use a microfiber cloth and wipe away any debris.
Happy cleaning! We would love to see your cleaning process or your before and afters - tag us on IG @botanica_bhm