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Why Should You Be Cleaning the Leaves of Houseplants

A Houseplant Tip to Keep Your Plants Healthy

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You’re probably thinking you have enough to clean in your home without worrying about cleaning your plants. Plants grow in soil, so why do you need to bother keeping it off their leaves? As anyone who’s gone away for 2 weeks knows, it doesn’t take long for dust to accumulate. A layer of dust on the leaves of your houseplants will block sunlight and reduce the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. Photosynthesis is how the plant feeds itself. Without it, you ‘ll have a stressed plant. A clean plant that’s photosynthesizing at optimal levels will be a healthier plant and healthy plants don’t get diseases and pest infestations as readily as stressed plants.

So periodically cleaning the leaves of your houseplants actually makes less work for you in the long run. And it will make your home look better.


How Often Do You Need to Clean Your Houseplants

That really depends on how much dust is in your air. Folks with dirt roads, construction and a lot of wind will need to clean their houseplants more often. The best way to tell if a plant needs cleaning is to rub your fingers on the leaves. If you can feel or see dust more dust than you can blow off the leaves, it’s time to clean.


How to Clean Houseplants

  • Spray The Whole Plant

    The easiest method for cleaning houseplants is to move them to the kitchen sink or shower and hose them off. Test the water before spraying, to make sure it is lukewarm. Both hot and cold water can injure the plant’s leaves.

    If you’re plants are really grimy, you can spray them with a dilute soapy water mixture and then hose them off. Use about 1/4 t. dish soap per 1 qt. of water.

    Small plants that can’t handle the force of a spray can be cleaned by holding the base of the plant at soil level, inverting it into a bucket of water and swishing the leaves about. Watering the soil before hand will help prevent the soil from falling out when the pot is inverted. You could also wrap plastic wrap around the base of the plant, to contain the soil while cleaning. Again, be sure to use lukewarm water.

    Let the plants drip dry before moving them back.

  • Wipe Individual Leaves

    For plants that are too large to move, you can simply wipe the leaves off with a damp cloth. After the initial cleaning, you can help keep dust from building up on the leaves by using a soft duster on them whenever you dust your house.

  • Brush Off the Dust

    Some plants have sticky or fuzzy leaves that just don’t lend themselves to easy cleaning. And in the case of plants like African Violets, that don’t like getting their leaves wet, neither spraying or wiping is the answer. For fuzzy leaved plants, use a soft brush, like a mushroom brush, to very gently coax the dust from the leaves.

  • Trim and Clean-up Leaves

    While you’re washing your plants, you can further tidy them by getting rid of dead, brown or yellowing leaves. If the leaf falls loose easily, you can remove it by hand. Otherwise use a scissors. Never pull resistant leaves of a plant.

    You can also prune away browned leaf tips, from plants that were left too dry. Carefully cut away just the dry, brown portions. You plant will look more natural if you follow the natural contour of the leaves when cutting

  • Clean the Plant’s Pot

    You put all this effort into cleaning your plants, you might as well make sure the pots are in shape too.

    If salt or minerals have formed a white layer on the outside or rim of your flower pot, you should remove the plant and thoroughly clean the pot. Wash the pot with a dilute bleach solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Scrub all the salt residue with a stiff brush and rinse the pot well before repotting your plant.

    Prevent future build-up on pots by periodically flushing the soil in the pots.

Initially it might sound like a lot of work to keep your houseplants clean, but you’ll find that an occasional cleaning is not really that much effort and it will keep your houseplants looking and growing better.

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