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Safest Way to Clean Houseplants

Updated on April 17, 2019
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna writes about the care of plants (indoors, outdoors, and in gardens). She wrote an orchid care booklet—a companion piece for workshops.

Pest Free

A plant that is pest free 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 be able to breathe or experience proper photosynthesis.

Cleaning Supplies

The feather duster removes dust and shines the leaves. I use unscented Swifter because it cleans the plants so quickly and easily. 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 good 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 and unscented, which is gentle on plants.

Unscented baby wipes are very effective and safe for small cleaning tasks. However, some leaves with a natural fuzziness (e.g. violets) should not be wiped at all.

Cleaning House Plant Leaves with Mayonnaise

A product good for humans, it does not necessarily mean it is good for your indoor plants. According to some professional plant care providers, the most common mistakes made when cleaning a plant are using products which 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 breathing because they clog the leave’s pores.

Location

The same location where you treat your plants for insects is a perfect place to clean your plants. When doing a thorough cleaning, it best to do it outside in the shade provided the weather is not too hot or too cold. Direct sunlight is not good 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

Start from the top of the plant using the Swifter. I dust the plant top to bottom. The video shows how simple it is to dust 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. Wiping the leaves is a delicate task. A professional explained how palm leaves easily come off. 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 are done cleaning the plant when a nice shiny glow comes to light on the foliage.

Regular Cleanings

I set a schedule for weekly cleanings. They can be concurrent with the weekly plant waterings. Only a few minutes is all I need to clean my well-maintained plants. Like a major cleaning, I start at the top and work my way down. It’s easy. You wipe off any dust or dirt you notice. The baby wipes come in handy for this task. Or, spray the Swifter with the Foliglo or Schultz Plant Shine and dust the plant. Make sure you use a new Swifter each time. Even a faint sign of dust on a plant cuts down the light the plant needs.

My plants look great because I keep them clean. You will notice it, too. Any room with indoor plants taken care of gives the interior a fresh and vibrant look. The environment is enhanced, giving pleasure to those who appreciate the beauty of nature.

© 2018 Kenna McHugh

Comments

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    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      7 months ago from Northern California

      Shaloo, Thank you for the comment. I am glad to hear you found the information helpful. I am sure your houseplants appreciate it.

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 

      7 months ago from India

      Very helpful & informative hub!

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      10 months ago from Northern California

      You are welcome. I am glad my article is helpful. I have never heard of Clean Leaf. Schultz is not too pricey and works well with plants. The key is not to use any oil-based or milk-based products when cleaning plants. Foliglo is the best but is only available to plant care professionals. It is sold as a concentrate by the gallon. Again, Schulz is your best choice as a product and cost.

    • llh65 profile image

      LisaLee 

      10 months ago

      Thank you for posting. I have found a product called Clean Leaf, it's a concentrate that you spray on and under leaves. If plant is really dusty, spray with water 1st; let dry and then spray with Clean Leaf. After that, spray with water again. If persistent dust/dirt doesn't get removed, wipe with a soft cloth or Swiffer cloth.

      I'm looking into the product you listed, as Clean Leaf is a little pricey. I found it an an indoor growing store.

      Thanks, again. Lisa

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