Many people don’t realize plants breathe through their leaves. This is why it is important to keep them clean. When plants are outdoors, rain showers and gusty winds keep the plants showered and dust free. Indoors, you will have to keep your houseplants free from dust and dirt.
Tips for cleaning plants
1. Clean big leaves with a moist soft rag
2. Clean smooth, broad leaves with moist paper towels or soft rags. To do this hold a pair of moist towels or rags, one on each hand. Gently slide the rags with outward strokes along each leaf. Try to do this simultaneously if possible, on the topside and underside. This will prevent the leaves from tearing. This works well for varieties of dracaenas that have thick and sturdy leaves and for mature peace lilies.
3. Clean spiky leaves with a stick. Secure a moist paper towel or soft rag around the tip of a stick with a rubber band. For delicate and small leaves cotton swabs or q-tips work very well.
4. Clean cacti with a soft-bristled brush. And be careful. Cacti are fun plants but the thorny leaves can bite! I have found a brush works the best to get dust and dirt out of the cacti and succulent spines and thorn areas.
The hairy leaves of African violets can be lightly dusted off with small camel’s hair watercolor brushes or makeup blushers. For deep-set dust balls and cobwebs, you can use a toothpick to pry them out.
5. Its easier to clean fine and clustered leaves by giving them a shower. Just remember to use luke warm water, not cold or hot water! Ferns and palms are easier to clean in the bathroom. Put them under the shower for a minute or so, turning the pots so the entire plant gets cleaned. If you have a small spray at the kitchen sink this works well too. A fern also benefit from misting so a shower perks them up and makes them happy!
6. Small houseplants clean up quick and easily in the sink. You can use a spray bottle or the kitchen sink’s spray hose to rinse off the leaves on your small plants.
7. Whether you rinse you plants in the shower or sink make sure you rinse softly so you don’t hurt any leaves and a loose a lot of dirt. It’s also wise to place a plastic bag or drain stop in the sink to catch any dirt.
If the weather is nice I clean the plants outdoors, even if it’s on an enclosed porch, I can let them drain and get a little fresh air. I rinse them off and set in the shade until they dry so that the sun will not scorch the wet leaves.
In the summer I take my plants outdoors. It might be for the entire season or just a week but the fresh air is good for them and I like to set them in a gentle rain to get a good cleaning and fresh minerals. I believe rainwater is healthier for plants than tap water.
I have found it’s easier for me to choose a day for watering plants and cleaning plants. I find I don’t forget this way and I have actually turned this time in to a relaxing event.
One final tip, repotting plants.
It’s important to repot you plants once a year. Plants often get root-bound so you can check the root for this and for the roots overall health. A root bound plants will stop growing.
One look will also tell you if the plant is getting too much water and needs better drainage.
Also your plant will enjoy a new clean pot. If you use the same pot, scrub it with baking soda to clean any stubborn dirt and kill germs. I also use dish soap, scrub it again and let it dry. Then I repot and admire my clean plant.