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Safest Way to Clean Houseplants

Updated on November 10, 2021
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna loves helping others take care of plants, both indoors and out. She wrote an orchid care booklet—a companion piece for workshops.

Pest Free

A pest-free plant is ready to be cleaned. The supplies needed are a feather duster, a clean, dry soft cloth, mild dish soap, unscented baby wipes, and a misting bottle of Foliglo or Schultz Plant Shine.

Do not use any milk or any oil products to clean your plants. Using milk or oil products will clog the pores, and the plants will not breathe or experience proper photosynthesis.

Cleaning Supplies

The feather duster removes dust and shines the leaves. I use an unscented Swifter because it cleans the plants so fast and efficiently. When the Swifter becomes dirty, I throw it away.

Foliglo is a plant polish made by Knoll Bio Products. It helps clean the indoor plant and maintain its natural shine. Foliglo is available via professional Interiorscape companies. They are companies that take care of indoor plants in offices or executive homes. I use it because one of my clients is an Interiorscape company. I found a product just as useful called Schultz Plant Shine. It contains no oil, so it doesn’t clog the pores and works well.

Mild soap with water cuts the grease and lifts the lint from the plant. I use ECOS dish soap because it is organic, unscented, and gentle on plants.

Unscented baby wipes are effective and safe for small cleaning tasks. However, you cannot wipe some leaves with a natural fuzziness like violets with anything.

Cleaning House Plant with Mayonnaise

A cleaning product for humans does not necessarily mean it is suitable for indoor plants. According to some professional plant care providers, the most common mistake when cleaning a plant is using products that hurt the plant, such as mayonnaise, milk, and household oils. These are great beauty aids for people but not for plants. Plants breathe through their leaves. Household oils and milk-based products prevent them from living because they clog the pores of the plant.

Where Do I Clean My Indoor Plants?

The exact location where you treat your plants for insects is a perfect place to clean your plants. When doing a thorough cleaning, it is best to do it outside in the shade, provided the weather is not too hot or too cold. Direct sunlight is not suitable for any indoor plant because it easily sunburns. If you must clean your plants indoors, use a tarp, shower stall, or bathtub.

Solution to Clean Houseplants

I dust the plant top to bottom using a Swifter. The video shows how gentle you need to be to dust the leaves of a plant. Once all dust is off the plant, I spray the plant with Foliglo or Schultz Plant Shine until the plant drips with the solution. I let the plant stand until the solution has completely dried or is nearly dry on the plant. The plant looks speckled when the solution dries. I use a dry clean cloth and gently wipe the plant until all the speckles are gone. I brace the backside of the leaf or leaf grouping while wiping the leaves of the plant. This way, the leaves do not break off the plant. Cleaning the leaves is a delicate task. A professional explained how palm leaves come off effortlessly. I don’t have a palm, but if you happen to be cleaning a palm, hold the palm leaves where they connect to the stalk. Then, you gently wipe the palm leaf. You finished cleaning the plant when a shiny glow came to light on the foliage.

Regular Cleanings

I set a schedule for weekly cleanings. They can be concurrent with the weekly waterings. Only a few minutes is all I need to clean my well-maintained plants. Like an effective cleaning, I start at the top and work my way down. It’s not hard to do. You wipe off any dust or dirt you notice. The baby wipes come in handy for this task. Or, you can spray the Swifter with the Foliglo or Schultz Plant Shine and dust the plant. Make sure you use a new Swifter each time you wipe a plant. The tiniest amount of dust on a plant cuts down the light it needs. My plants look healthy because I keep them clean. You will notice it, too. Any room with plants taken care of creates an interior that looks fresh and vibrant look. The environment is enhanced, giving pleasure to those who appreciate the beauty of nature or just discovered it.

© 2018 Kenna McHugh


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