Keeping your houseplant’s leaves clean allows it to take in more sunlight and photosynthesize. This article will tell you everything you need to know about using natural methods for cleaning your houseplant’s leaves.
How to clean houseplant leaves naturally? Here’s what to use to clean houseplant leaves naturally:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Banana peel
- Feather duster
- Compressed air
Ahead, I’ll talk further about these natural cleaning methods as well as why you need to keep your plant’s leaves clean, so keep reading!
Best Homemade Plant Cleaners
To prevent doing more harm than good, I always recommend using natural homemade plant cleaners for cleaning off your plant’s leaves. The following measures won’t damage your plant, so you can feel good about using them all the time.
I know, olive oil seems like a strange choice for your houseplant, but it’s quite a helpful ingredient in an indoor garden.
Olive oil also acts as a natural insect repellent, and cleaning with it is quick and easy.
When it comes to how much olive oil you should use when using it to clean your houseplants’ leaves, you only need a drop or two.
If you cover a paper towel in olive oil and rub it all over your plants, you could block your houseplant’s pores. This will interrupt light absorption and photosynthesis, which is the exact opposite of what you want.
Apply the drop of olive oil to your fingertips. Then coat the surface of the leaves evenly.
If your houseplant is already an acidity lover such as hydrangeas or rhododendrons, then you can use vinegar as a cleaning option. For the alkaline plants in your indoor garden, skip this method.
Dilute the vinegar with water, using about a gallon of H2O for a teaspoon of vinegar. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and then coat your plant’s leaves when they start to get dirty.
Pat the wet leaves dry with a soft microfiber cloth, as many houseplants don’t like soaked leaves.
Vinegar is a natural ant, fruit fly, and gnat repellant, not to mention it might be able to ward off fungi, so it’s a product to always have in your pantry.
You love to nibble on coconut oil, but I implore you to save some for your houseplants.
The oil is a great cleaner, not to mention that the fatty acids coconut oil contains can stop weeds from sprouting up in your indoor garden.
Using room temperature coconut oil in a container, dip a soft cleaning cloth or a microfiber cloth into the oil. Then coat either side of the plant leaf, ensuring your cover the entire surface so all the dust is removed. Repeat for each leaf.
If you’d rather work with liquid coconut oil, that’s an option too. Let the oil cool down before applying it to your houseplant’s leaves though.
You’d follow the same instructions as when using olive oil. Dip your fingers in the coconut oil and lightly cover the leaves in a thin layer.
If bananas are your favorite fruit, then you’ll love this one. Those peels you’re holding onto are for more than your houseplant’s compost pile. They’re also a fantastic plant leaf cleaner.
This is one of the easiest cleaning methods of all. You only have to keep the peel mostly intact. Then rub the inside of the banana peel where the fruit was all over the surface of your plant’s leaves.
The banana peel will pick up pet hair, dust, and dirt. Since the peel won’t be in great shape once you’re done, I recommend throwing it away rather than trying to compost it.
For surface dust and dirt on your houseplant, a feather duster can come in handy.
That said, you have to use your discretion here. If your houseplant has small and delicate leaves, then a feather duster can be too much.
For the Monstera or the philodendron though, a feather duster is the perfect cleaning instrument.
When you’re done cleaning, make sure you take your feather duster outside to shake it out. This will keep it clean for next time. You’ll also avoid getting contaminants in the air that you’d then breathe in.
Do you have succulents in your indoor garden? Cleaning these plants brings about its own set of challenges. For instance, you can’t exactly rub a banana peel or a soft cloth on a cactus. It would destroy both cleaning instruments instantly!
Make sure you stand at least 10 feet away from your houseplant. You can create even more distance at 12 feet if you feel comfortable, but don’t stand further away than that. The compressed air canister won’t be able to reach your succulents.
As you release the compressed air, do so in sweeping, short bursts. Take a break, check your plant, and then continue as needed.
You don’t necessarily need fancy cleaning instruments to tidy your houseplant’s leaves. You can always use water.
What some indoor gardeners do is dunk their houseplants in a tub of water such as a full sink or a bathtub.
This is good if your plants are especially dirty, but it’s not appropriate for all indoor plants. If your plant is sensitive to being handled or it doesn’t like getting its leaves wet, then don’t plunk it in water.
You can also soak a soft cloth with water and then wipe down each leaf. A third option is to fill a spray bottle with only water and then mist the leaves. These methods shouldn’t cause your houseplant any undue stress.
The Benefits of Cleaning Your Houseplant’s Leaves
Why clean your houseplant’s leaves in the first place? It goes back to what I mentioned in the intro: photosynthesis.
Photosynthesis, if you need the recap, is a plant process in which the plant absorbs sun energy (from sunlight or artificial light).
Together with carbon dioxide and water, the sun’s energy becomes oxygen and sugar that the houseplant uses for energy.
This energy is what keeps the plant alive. Your houseplant can use its energy for new growth or towards sustaining its current growth.
When your plant leaves are dirty, such as with grime or dust, the pores throughout the leaves cannot absorb sunlight as readily. This reduces its rate of photosynthesis, which means your houseplant is at least halving its energy.
There’s more to it than that, though. When plants can’t photosynthesize, they stop growing as quickly. They’re also more susceptible to stress, which weakens them. A weak plant can be a harbinger of diseases.
Many plant diseases can affect not only the host plant but other nearby plants as well. So too can insect infestations, which also target weak plants like yours.
You can see now why cleaning your houseplant’s leaves is such a good idea!
Plant Leaf Cleaning FAQs
Do you still have some burning questions about plant leaf cleaning? No problem! Hopefully, this FAQs section will address anything I might have missed.
How Frequently Should I Clean My Houseplant’s Leaves?
You’ve started cleaning your houseplant’s leaves and wow, you had never realized they got so dirty!
You want to prevent such a grime buildup in the future. How often will that require you to wipe down the leaves?
That depends on where your plant lives. Since it’s indoors, it’s already at an advantage, as your plant is safeguarded from many outdoor pollutants.
If your home or office is generally clean, then maybe once or twice a month, you can clean your plant’s leaves with olive oil, water, or your cleaner of choice.
For other environments, I’d recommend cleaning plant leaves weekly to every two weeks.
Should I Clean My Houseplant with One Hand or Two?
Cleaning your houseplant’s leaves is certainly a two-handed job. With one hand, you want to hold your cleaning instrument of choice. In the other hand, support your houseplant’s leaves.
You can hold the base of the leaf around the stem, but don’t put a death grip on the stem. If you do, you could cause the leaf to fall right off!
You can also open your palm and rest the back of the leaf in your hand.
Should I Use Leaf Shine on My Houseplant?
For the rubber plant and many houseplant species like it, indoor gardeners like their plants to look shiny and Instagrammable.
These gardeners tend to reach for Miracle-Gro Leaf Shine, or they’ll make their own leaf shine at home.
I know the finished result after a coating of leaf shine is very appealing, but you should not use this product on your houseplants.
Leaf shines are full of waxes and oils. You already know that oil can block a plant’s pores, and waxes can do the same. Blocked pores prevent photosynthesis or reduce the effectiveness of photosynthesis, and that spells bad news for your plant.
Mother Nature made your plant as shiny as it’s supposed to be. Try appreciating its natural beauty instead of using an artificial product.
That said, if you absolutely must make your plant shinier, then try mayonnaise. Yes, good, old-fashioned mayo can lead to more shine when applied in very thin layers to your plant’s leaves.
Can You Use Baby Wipes to Clean Plant Leaves?
You have plenty of baby wipes handy, and you’d rather use them to clean your plant than banana peels. Can you?
I wouldn’t recommend it, no. Although many people use them on infants and toddlers, baby wipes are full of chemicals that people and plants shouldn’t be exposed to.
Some of these ingredients include agents that release formaldehyde, an embalming ingredient that’s very likely a carcinogen. Sodium benzoate, another ingredient in baby wipes, could also be a carcinogen.
You’re much better off using the above natural cleaning products instead.
What Cleaning Instrument Do I Use for Fuzzy-Leaved Plants?
While many houseplants have smooth leaves, not all do. The velvet calathea is one such plant with fuzzy foliage, and some succulents have a felt-like layer on their leaves as well.
The texture of the leaves requires different cleaning instruments. Try a makeup brush or a soft-bristled brush to remove dirt and debris from your plant’s leaves.
Although it should go without saying, both types of brushes should be 100 percent clean before using them on your plants.