How to Clean Your Houseplants

That may sound a bit strange or even funny when you think about cleaning your plants but there are reasons to do so.

A clean houseplant is a happy houseplant and they are able to breathe better and they also look better.  Cleaning your houseplants, whether it is a large or small one, can be done naturally.

Reasons to Clean Your Houseplants

  • When they come from a greenhouse or a nursery, they have junk on them. This is due to foliage cleaners, pesticide spray, hard water, and condensation dripping from the ceiling if they are kept in a greenhouse.  Hard water is high in minerals and can cause white spots on the leaves.
  • You also need to get all the build-up of dirt and dust off that has built up in your home.  The leaves will need to respire.  If there is a heavy build-up of dust it can impede this process.
  • If you have had any pest infestations you will need to remove any residue they left behind.  Sucking insects like aphids and mealy bugs secrete a sticky substance.  You will need to wipe that off along with any eggs that could still be on the plants.  Make sure that you use a cloth you can throw away because you need to do that just in case you have some eggs on it.  They can spread to the other houseplants in no time.

More like this: 11 Benefits of Having Houseplants in Your Home

Houseplant Cleaning Mixture

For this mixture you will need:

  • 5-10 drops of dish soap that is non-toxic
  • One half to three-fourths cup of white vinegar
  • One-half gallon of water (about 8 cups)

You will also need a soft cleaning cloth, a spray bottle, and a large bowl or pail.

Cleaning Your Houseplants

  • If you have a light-dust build-up you can use a duster or a soft cloth that you have dampened with water.
  • Take the smaller houseplants to the bathroom and put them in the tub and lightly spray them off.  Make sure that when you do this that you are not blasting out the soil.  You should do this once or twice a month.  If you want you can let them sit for a while so any water has a chance to drain out.  
  • Put the mixture into a spray bottle and let it drip off. You can do this outside in the shade and let them dry naturally.  Do not do it in the hot sun as the leaves can burn.
  • You can put some of the mixtures in the bowl and soak the soft cloth.  Ring out the extra water until it is damp and wipe off the leaves.  Although it is not necessary, you can rinse this mixture off.
  • For the small plants that have larger leaves, you can spray the mixture on the leaves.  Take a damp cloth to wipe them off.
  • If you have plants with fuzzy leaves do not use this mixture on them as most do not like to be sprayed with cleaners.  It is best to just dust these types of plants or use an old toothbrush.  When you clean them, support the leaf with your free hand and use gentle strokes.  Work from the base up to the tip of each leaf. Make sure that you clean the toothbrush after every few cleanings.  If you do not have a toothbrush you can use a soft-bristled paintbrush.  You can also use a pipe cleaner or one of the fuzzy leaves of the plant.
  • If you have houseplants with small leaves you can just swish them in lukewarm water to get rid of the dust.  It would be too time-consuming to wipe each leaf.  You can also add a few drops of mild dish soap to the water. Support the soil and pot with your hand, turn it upside down and submerge the leaves in the water, swishing it around, and let it air dry.
  • You can also use mayonnaise to help shine the leaves but it is a process that takes a lot of time.  You cannot use it on your fuzzy leaf plants.  After you have cleaned your plants with the mixture, put a little mayonnaise on a wet cloth, and wipe down each leaf.  The oil in the mayonnaise will help to give dull-looking leaves a shine.  After you have shined your leaves, lightly wipe the mayonnaise off with a cloth.
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It is a good idea to let the leaves dry naturally.

cleaning plant

Things not to do When Cleaning Your Houseplants

  • Do not use commercial cleaners with leaf shine because they will clog the pores of the leaves.  This is bad because the leaves need to respire.
  • Do not clean your plants too late in the evening.  The respiration process happens after dark.  When this is going on the plants do not like to be disturbed.

Keep reading: How to pot or Repot Your Houseplants


Your houseplants will provide your home with a beautiful appearance and cleaner air.  In order for them to do this, they need to be kept clean.  In addition, if you do not clean your houseplants, the leaves will accumulate a layer of grime and dust.  This can attract bacteria, insects, and mold.  The dust will also block the light that the plant will not be able to do photosynthesizing for their food.  So clean, or at least, dust your plants when you feel they need them.  It could be daily or even weekly.

When rinsing your leaves make sure that you are using lukewarm water and not cold water.  Cold water could shock the roots and cause spots on the leaves.  Most houseplants are from the tropics and are used to warm water.  Although it can take time to clean your plants, especially if you have a lot of plants, but you will be pleased with the results and you will have healthier plants.  After you have done this once, it will get faster and easier each time you clean your plants.

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