- Cleaning Houseplants – Learn How To Clean Houseplants
- What to Use for Cleaning Houseplant Leaves
- How to Clean Houseplants
- How to Clean Your Houseplants
- Remove Dust
- Take Care of Spent Blooms
- Give Them a Bath
- If you love the idea of having beautiful, healthy plants around your home, but can’t quite seem to get your plants to thrive, try this mayonnaise house plant trick!
- The Mayonnaise House Plant Trick
- Cleaning with Olive Oil Around The House
- Natural Household Cleaners : Olive Oil
- Olive Oil is Safe And Effective Natural household cleaner
- Other Natural Household Cleaners
- How to polish the leaves on your indoor plant
- How to Clean Indoor Houseplants & Shine the Leaves!
- Chemist Tips
- Why is milk used?
- Can I substitute other milk?
- Should I use skim or whole milk?
- Will just using water work?
- Does this have an odor?
- Doesn’t this attract bugs or gnats?
- Do I have to use Epsom Salt?
- Shop More From This Post:
- Methods for Cleaning Indoor Plants
- Dust Leaves With A Feather Duster
- Wipe The Dust Off The Leaves
- Dunk The Plant In Water
- Rinse Indoor Plants Off In The Shower
- Clean Fuzzy Leaves With A Brush
- Use Compressed Air To Clean Cactus And Succulents
- Spray Plants With A Soap Solution
- Important Considerations When Cleaning Indoor Plant Leaves
- Why Is Cleaning Your Indoor Plant Leaves Important?
- Functions Of Plant Leaves
- Gas And Water Vapor Exchange
- Related Questions
Clean the leaves
Clean the leaves of large houseplants by wiping them with a moist cloth or damp cotton. Support the leaves with one hand to avoid bruising or cracking them. Do not use oils or polishes to make houseplant leaves shine; they can block pores, which can interfere with a plant’s ability to breathe.
Remove dust from African violets and other fuzzy-leafed plants with a soft-bristle paintbrush. Or use a soft toothbrush, pipe cleaner, or discarded fuzzy leaf. Stroke from the base of the leaf to the tip to dislodge dust and other debris.
One simple way to clean small houseplants (especially those with fuzzy leaves) is to support them and their soil with your fingers, turn them upside down and swish their leaves in tepid water. Let the houseplants plants drip-dry out of the sun.
Trim and remove dead blossoms
Remove withered blossoms to keep your houseplants healthy and encourage further blooming.
Remove all dead or yellowing leaves regularly from your houseplants. Pick up all fallen leaves on the soil. For ferns, reach under the green fronds and cut the brown leaf stalks at the soil line. Shorten or remove any leafless, string-like stems, too.
This article originally appeared on Better Homes and Gardens.
Cleaning Houseplants – Learn How To Clean Houseplants
As they are a part of your indoor décor, you’ll be interested in keeping houseplants clean. Cleaning houseplants is an important step in keeping them healthy and provides an opportunity to check for pests. Keeping houseplants clean makes them more attractive too.
Learning how to clean houseplants isn’t difficult. There are several methods of keeping houseplants clean. You may wonder what to use for cleaning houseplant leaves.
What to Use for Cleaning Houseplant Leaves
You don’t need to purchase an expensive houseplant cleaner; you likely already have the ingredients to make your own. Commercial houseplant cleaner that promises to polish plant leaves can actually clog the plant’s stomata (pores) and decrease the transpiration that allows houseplants to clean indoor air.
Keeping houseplants clean can result from dusting them or rubbing the leaves with cheesecloth or a damp paper towel, if needed. An effective houseplant cleaner is your dishwashing liquid, diluted and used in a spray bottle.
You can even put your plants in the shower occasionally or a sink with a sprayer. The mist from the shower or the sprayer gets rid of some common houseplant pests and offers humidity needed by indoor plants. Houseplant cleaner for plants with furry leaves should be limited to dusting and misting with water.
Insecticidal soap on a feather duster is another means of keeping houseplants clean and treating for pests at the same time.
How to Clean Houseplants
Cleaning houseplants includes caring for the underside of the foliage and paying attention to stems, stalks and soil.
Never leave dead foliage that has dropped to the soil; this provides a breeding place for pests and disease.
Immediately shake water gently from plants with pubescent leaves and don’t put them in the sun until they’re dry. Some plants with fuzzy leaves experience damage from water standing on the leaves for too long.
Now that you’ve learned how to clean houseplants, you can put these suggestions to work. Additionally, while keeping houseplants clean, examine them for signs of small bugs or damage from disease. This may appear first on the underside of the leaves. Scale may first appear on stems and can be treated with alcohol on a cotton swab. Many houseplant pests can be treated with neem oil as well.
How to Clean Your Houseplants
Plants, like all living things, need to be properly taken care of in order to live to the best of their ability. Along with scheduled waterings, houseplants need a maintenance cleaning every once in a while. Not only will cleaning your houseplants keep them dust-free, but you’ll be more aware of pests that may come around. See our tips on keeping your houseplants squeaky clean.
See our favorite indoor plants for low light.
Remove dust from African violets and other fuzzy-leafed plants with a soft-bristle paintbrush, soft toothbrush, pipe cleaner, or discarded fuzzy leaf. Stroke from the base of the leaf to the tip to dislodge dust and other debris. You can also clean the leaves of large houseplants by simply wiping them with a moist cloth or damp cotton. Support the leaves with one hand to avoid bruising or cracking them. Do not use oils or polishes to make houseplant leaves shine; they can block pores, which can interfere with a plant’s ability to breathe.
Take Care of Spent Blooms
Remove withered blossoms to keep your houseplants healthy and encourage further blooming. Pick up any flowers that fall on the soil to prevent mold and disease. Additionally, remove all dead or yellowing leaves regularly from your houseplants, picking up all fallen leaves on the soil. Ferns are a special case—reach under their green fronds and cut the brown leaf stalks at the soil line. Shorten or remove any leafless, stringlike stems, too.
Learn how to grow even more plants, including orchids, as houseplants.
Give Them a Bath
Wash houseplants often in lukewarm water to rid them of dust and insects. Don’t use cold water; it may spot leaves. Place small houseplants in a sink; wash larger houseplants in a shower. Let plants drip-dry before placing them in the sun.
Another simple way to clean small houseplants (especially those with fuzzy leaves) is to support them and their soil with your fingers, turn them upside down, and swish their leaves in tepid water. Let the houseplants plants drip-dry out of the sun.
Sometimes when you buy a houseplant, you’ll find its leaves are particularly shiny. Now, this can be innate—the leaves of certain plants, and in particular those of schleffera (Schefflera actinophylla), zz plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) and mirror plant (Coprosma repens), are naturally very glossy—but often what you’ve found is a plant that was treated with leaf shine, also called leaf polish. Florists, especially, like to add value to the foliage in their floral arrangements and so spray the leaves with it. They also tend to apply it to the houseplants they sell. And leaf shine products are readily available in stores and on the Internet for you to use yourself.
So, leaf shines make leaves glossy, but are they good for plants?
Manufacturers claim they are. They say they remove dust, dirt and lime deposits, help the leaves breathe better, reduce evaporation and prevent dust from recurring. And, of course, that they “leave the foliage glossy and bright,” which is apparently a desirable thing.
And it is true that, in general, these products are not terribly harmful: your plants won’t keel over and die immediately after you apply them. However, they’re not without undesirable side effects either.
What makes things complicated is the ingredients often seem to be a company secret. It’s hard to know what they contain. And each leaf shine product is different. Some contain silicone, others different oils and waxes … and all these are products that can do some harm if not properly applied.
First though, there is no disadvantage to applying leaf shine to cut leaves, as florists do when preparing flower arrangements. The moment these leaves were harvested, their death was inevitable, usually within a week or two. To make them shine for what’s left of their life doesn’t change the eventual outcome.
Leaf shine is also recommended to remove dust and grime on plastic and silk plants and give them a “healthy sheen.” (Yes, one label actually says that!) They’re unlikely to harm fake plants and, besides, I’m a gardener. I honestly don’t care what happens to artificial plants!
The situation is much more complex in the case of living plants, especially ones you want to keep alive.
When the label states that the product helps the plant breathe better, but assures at the same time that it also reduces water loss due to transpiration, this is actually contradictory information. Plants do most of their breathing via stomata, pores that open to allow gaseous exchange (respiration), but in doing so, they also allow water to escape (evapotranspiration). Anything you do to increase a plant’s respiration will also increase transpiration … and anything you do to reduce evaporation will decrease respiration. What manufacturers are claiming is kind of a horticultural case of having your cake and eating it too.
You should limit leaf shine to the upper surface leaves of dicot plants, otherwise the product could block the stomata found mostly under the leaf and reduce respiration. Source: askabiologist.asu.edu
Theoretically, although this is not always made clear on every product label, you should only be spraying the upper surface of the leaf with leaf shine. If you spray the underside of the leaf, where the majority of stomata usually are, it may block them and thus reduce the plant’s respiration … and by consequence, its development and even survival. On plants with stomata only on the underside of the leaf, leaf shine will not negatively affect respiration.
However, coating the upper surface with oil or wax has another undesirable effect: it reduces photosynthesis. Not a lot, but a little. Any coating shiny enough to make the leaf appear glossy also reflects light and, of course, light that is reflected is not absorbed. Essentially, spraying your plant with leaf shine is the equivalent of covering it with shade cloth.
Since lack of light is the major negative factor in maintaining plants indoors, leaf shines, although they only reduce photosynthesis to a fairly small degree, can nevertheless be harmful to plants already lacking light, slowly undermining their health.
If you read the product label (so few people do!), you’ll notice it usually recommends that you not apply leaf shine to certain plants, such as plants with fuzzy leaves, like African violets), succulents, ferns and flowering plants. Some state things the other way around and suggest using only on “houseplants with hard-surfaced leaves.”
What is not made clear, at least not on the leaf spray products I have seen, is that it is best to never apply it to monocots of any sort, because unlike dicots, most of whose stomata are on the lower surface of the leaf, in monocots, the stomata are distributed fairly evenly on both sides of the leaves. Leaf spray can seriously impinge their respiration.
Just some of the many houseplants you should avoid spraying with leaf shine. Source: www.walmart.ca, montage: laidbackgardener.blog
So, it’s best to not apply leaf spray to such monocots as yuccas, orchids, dracenas, bamboos, sansevierias, etc. nor any of the aroids (philodendrons, photos, monsteras, dieffenbachias, peace lilies, etc.). It is even more important to never apply it to bromeliads, especially the famous “air plants,” which absorb almost all their moisture from scales on their leaves, as leaf spray will clog the scales. Avoid applying it too to aquatic plants with floating leaves, as they only have stomata on the upper surface of the leaf.
When you start to make a list of the plants you shouldn’t really use leaf spray on, you’ll find it includes nearly two thirds of the most popular houseplants!
When Not to Spray
The small print will also likely warn you against using leaf spray:
- In hot weather;
- On sunny days;
- When the leaves are wet;
- On young shoots.
It sounds to me like they’re saying to only apply it to dormant plants … and after dark!
Homemade Leaf Shine Products
Do-it-yourselfers will find plenty of sites on the Web proposing homemade products to give houseplant leaves a shiny appearance: margarine, mayonnaise, olive oil and many, many more. In general, these products do make leaves shine … but the restrictions above still apply: they decrease the availability of light and harm respiration if not applied correctly. Also, homemade coatings are usually very sticky and quickly become covered with dirt, dust and pet hair. Not only are they no better for your plants than commercial products, they’re actually worse!
Giving Leaves a Natural Luster
Having gone over all this, I think it’s time to ask the real question: do you really need leaves that look lacquered?
It seems to me that the natural luster of a leaf should be enough. That a philodendron should look like a philodendron and a ficus should look like a ficus, not like they were made of patent leather!
To give leaves a “natural shine,” just clean with soapy water and rinse. Source: www.goodearthplants.com
To that end, all you really have to do is to clean the foliage of your houseplants from time to time to remove the dust and dirt that dull the natural brightness of the leaves. Sometimes simply hosing down the plant in the shower (or outdoors in the summer) is enough. If not, simply wipe the leaves with a soapy cloth to get rid of the grime, then rinse. Lime deposits (hard, white, crusty buildups) can be tough to remove with soap alone. Remove them by rubbing softly with a cloth soaked in a solution of 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in 1 quart (1 liter) of water.
Leaf shine products: thanks, but no thanks!
Have you ever noticed how every single plant at the florist seems to have particularly luminous leaves? It’s not because they’re healthier or better taken care of than your house plants – it’s just because they have a little bit of extra help when it comes to keeping the dust and grime away! Believe it or not, you don’t have to be a professional florist to have plants with shiny leaves. Here are a few ways you can keep your plants looking clean and healthy.
Dust can accumulate on surfaces throughout your home, which means a couple of monthly wipe-downs are necessary in order to get rid of the build-up and prevent more from accumulating. The leaves of your potted plants are no exception, and should be wiped down whenever you’re cleaning the house. Dirt and dust can clog the pores of the leaves and prevent transpiration from happening, which could negatively affect your plants and make them look dull. Use a soft washcloth with a bit of warm water and mild soap to gently rub the tops and undersides of the leaves. This will remove any grime and also keep any pests from inhabiting your plants. Just be sure to use another washcloth with plain water afterward to rinse off most of the soap.
There are a variety of options when it comes to adding shine to your leaves. Although some flowering plants have fuzzy leaves that shouldn’t be shined, like African violets, many other types have leaves with smooth surfaces that are perfectly suited for a little buffing. There are commercial leaf shining products available at a wide variety of retailers, but you can make your own products at home easily.
For example, Reader’s Digest suggests using mayonnaise to add shine to your leaves, which sounds a bit weird but is actually a trick used by some professionals. Just rub a bit of mayo onto the leaves using a paper towel, then sit back and watch them gleam for weeks. A mixture of milk and water can also be used to keep leaves shiny, so don’t be afraid to rub a bit of it on after you clean them.
Mineral oil also works to keep your leaves glistening, but only apply a small amount of it about once or twice a year. You should also keep your plants away from direct light sources, as the mineral oil could literally fry the leaves up! That’s all you need to keep your plants looking healthy and glowing year-round, just like those at a florist’s shop.
If you love the idea of having beautiful, healthy plants around your home, but can’t quite seem to get your plants to thrive, try this mayonnaise house plant trick!
OK, this mayonnaise house plant trick is going to sound downright crazy to some of you, but just hear me out! This trick is used by professionals and it just may be the thing to perk your plants up!
One mistake a lot of new plant owners make is that they think house plants are kind of a “set-it-and-forget-it” type of home decor item. Or maybe rather at, “set it, water it occasionally, but mostly forget it” type. This is especially true with all these super low-maintenance succulents that are so popular now.
The problem is that we often go a little too far in the low-maintenance direction and then are disappointed when our plants look a little lacklustre. So here’s what to do!
First of all, every 2 weeks or so, you need to wipe down your leaves. To do this, take a damp, slightly soapy cloth and gently wipe the underside and the top side of each leaf. Follow up with another damp, soap-free cloth to remove the soap.
Dust build-up on plants not only looks yucky, it can also clog your plant’s pores and prevent transpiration. Plants need their leaves to be clean so they can enjoy the sunshine as well!
Want your cut flowers to look great too? How to Make Cut Flowers Last Longer – The Creek Line House
The Mayonnaise House Plant Trick
Now here’s where the mayo comes in! This is especially good for plants with wide, smooth leaves.
Put a small amount of mayo in a dish and using another clean, dry cloth, wipe the top of each leaf of your houseplants. Not only will this give you those amazing super-shiny leaves that you see on plants at the florist’s, mayonnaise is also super effective at breaking down and removing any built-up sticky gunk like sap, so it will make sure your plant’s leave are really extra clean.
And wow does it ever make those leaves shine!
This may be just the ticket to keep your houseplants looking beautiful and healthy!
Have you ever heard of the mayonnaise house plant trick before?
If you enjoy little tips like this one, visit my subscribe page and I’ll keep you updated whenever I post a new one!
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Cleaning with Olive Oil Around The House
Natural Household Cleaners :
Cleaning with olive oil around the house is safe and effective… and cheaper too
There are many uses of olive oil such as olive oil for skincare and making home remedies but did you know that you can use it to clean around the house?
Cleaning with olive oil around the house is a safer than using chemicals as it’s completely non-toxic.
Discover some best cleaning tips using olive oil.
Olive Oil is Safe And Effective Natural household cleaner
Olive oil is safe and effective to use in many daily household tasks to clean, maintain and repair just about anything that needs special attention… Besides the effectiveness of using the olive oil for household chores, it’s also very safe to use with no harsh and toxic chemicals to speak of.
It’s just pure olive oil plus other non-toxic household ingredients. Try it and you’ll see that it really works!
As we all know, many of the commercial cleaning products sold in regular stores and supermarkets are all chemical-based cleaning products even if they are the organic kind. Many have typical safety warning labels. You’ll also find that it’s probably a cheaper solution than buying many different cleaning agents. Another no-nonsense reason to cleaning with olive oil.
Cleaning your house can be a real chore but it shouldn’t comprise your health along the way. Another real health benefit of olive oil is that it is a safe, natural and effective alternative to using many of the chemical and petroleum-based cleaning products and polishes.
- Polish furniture to give it that extra shine – Try three parts water with one part olive oil; or two parts olive oil with one part lemon. It should leave your furniture shiny and clean.
- Polish plant leaves – Just mix olive oil with water and spray. It will leave the plants dust-free as well as giving it some shine.
- Get rid of the creaks in doors and hinges – Use a few drops of olive oil for lubrication.
- Clean and polish those tile and hardwood floors – Mix several drops of olive oil with equal number of drops of lemon juice, apply it on a dry mop or broom and oil mop the floors. Be sure to sweep the floor clean beforehand to wipe away all dirt and dust. No need to use more than a few drops of olive oil and lemon juice to get the job done.
- Clean wax off inside candle holders – If you’ve ever lit a candle inside a candle holder, you know how much of a pain it is to remove all the excess wax. Well, the secret to preventing wax from forming in the first place is to use olive oil! Another great benefits to this all purpose oil machine. Just put a few drops of olive oil into the interior of the candle holder and that’s it. It will prevent the build-up of wax.
If you already have candle holders with melted wax in them, no problem! Just mix olive oil with mild dish soap. It should take the old wax off.
- Remove paint from the skin – Olive oil is a great lubricant and solvent to help remove oil-based paint. To remove paint from your skin or hair, just use extra-virgin olive oil on a soft cotton cloth and wipe away clean. It may take some time but it should work. There are many tricks cleaning with olive oil.
- Clean and preserve wooden utensils and cutting boards – Olive oil can definitely help to preserve any wooden cutting boards. After washing it in soap and water, dry it clean or leave it to dry naturally. Once fully dried, just wipe it with olive oil.
- Preserve knives – The best way to preserve knives is to always wipe them thoroughly dry right after washing with soap. This is what I do every time I use my best and favorite knifes in the kitchen. You can then place a small amount of olive oil on a towel and lightly oil the blade of the knives.
You can also sharpen the knives by sliding two knife blades together, holding one still and moving the other against the blade in a crisscross motion. This is probably an old technique that is still commonly used today. It’s simple and you don’t need to buy a knife sharpener.
- And many more…
Other Natural Household Cleaners
In addition to cleaning with olive oil for household chores, there are a number of books that are available that describe how you can make your own cleaning products from other common natural household ingredients, such as:
- Lemon juice
- Tea tree oil
- All-purpose baking soda
Olive oil is a pantry must-have, but did you know the cooking staple has tons of other uses too? Check out 20 other ways to use olive oil at home and in the garden.
1. Clean grease off your hands. Rub a little bit of olive oil and salt in your hands to remove stubborn grease.
2. Remove gum from shoes. Soak a facecloth in olive oil sit, then rest it on the bottom of your shoe for several minutes. It should break down the sticky stuff enough for you to easily remove it.
3. Season cast iron or wooden pieces. Rub olive oil into kitchen go-tos like cutting boards, salad bowls and skillets to season them.
4. Peel off kids’ stickers. Forget Goof Off— just pour a little olive oil on the sticker and let it sit for several minutes before you start pulling.
5. Make an emergency lamp. For in-a-pinch lighting, fill a bowl with olive oil and add a lamp wick, leaving one end exposed.
6. Prevent sticking. Coat measuring cups and spoons with a little olive oil before pouring in sticky stuff, like honey.
7. Unstick a zipper. Work a tiny bit of olive oil into a metal zipper so it slides much more easily.
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8. Fake a healthy houseplant. Rub a little into plants’ leaves to keep them shiny and looking great.
9. Polish furniture. Pour some oil onto a dry paper towel and rub it into your wooden pieces.
10. Keep moles out of your garden. Saturate a rag with olive oil, then stuff it into a mole hole. It should keep the animals away—they can’t stand the smell of the stuff.
11. Improve aging leather. Work a bit of olive oil into leather items like jackets or baseball mitts to add moisture and smooth out cracks.
12. Prevent tarnishing. Rub olive oil into stainless steel and brass pieces, then buff it off with a dry cloth.
13. Clean garden tools. Rub some oil into your tools after using them—it keeps the dust and dirt away and imparts some shine.
14. Help cats with hairballs. Some folks say that adding a few drops of olive oil into cats’ food can help manage the issue—plus, it’ll make their coats look extra glossy.
15. Soothe dogs’ paws. Dogs can also benefit from a bit of olive oil: It helps to lubricate cracked or painful paws, a common side effect of walking on a hot sidewalk.
16. Shine shoes. Pour a little olive oil onto a soft clean cloth and rub vigorously into your shoes. Polish with a soft dry cloth.
17. Polish floors. Rub olive oil into hardwood floors with a soft, dry cloth. Follow up with another wipe down, or until the surface is dry and safe to walk on.
18. Make soap. If you’re a DIY-er, olive oil is a gentle, soothing, natural soap ingredient.
19. Eliminate squeaks. Put a few drops of olive oil into a squeaky door hinge and work it around for a while—no need for WD-40!
20. Polish stainless steel. Banish fingerprints by pouring a little olive oil onto a rag, then work into appliances or silverware.
Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of home and travel blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.
How do all the plants on tv shows, in magazines or in the plant shop have such lovely shiny lush leaves?? Well not only is it because they want them to look good, they also want them to grow and thrive!
Dust is everywhere and it’ll settle on the surface of a big indoor plant. Especially in the winter months as we have our homes locked up from the outside weather.
Plants need to breathe and photosynthesize. And they cannot do with this with a layer of dust sitting on them. Plants are more susceptible to disease and bugs attacking them if covered in dust. A house plant’s natural habitat is outdoors where they are exposed to wind and rain to wash this dust off.
Now, you can easily take them outside and give a spray with water and that’ll be sufficient, but if you really want some shine on them and want to be a dedicated plant mum like me, then you’ll go to the extreme… ha!
How to polish the leaves on your indoor plant
Use WHITE OIL from Bunnings or an ORGANIC COCONUT OIL.
Here’s a rubber plant I did with White Oil >>
See the leaves below on the left are milky and dull looking? That’s how I actually bought this plant. My Mum was concerned he might not be well. I said nope he’s good, he just needs a good clean up! So one Sunday morning at 7am I started cleaning my plants. My husband calls me a nutter haha… Seriously, it’s so satisfying! Spray the white oil on to a cloth (not the plant) and wipe over! So easy.
Here’s a fiddle leaf fig I polished up with coconut oil >>
Now they are looking awesome and ready to grow, grow, grow. If you want some tips on how/when to water your indoor plants check out this blog post I wrote. Plus this one on how to grow a health rubber plant.
You might also like these tips on how to work out what’s wrong with your indoor plant.
How to Clean Indoor Houseplants & Shine the Leaves!
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This is a pretty neat tip we are sharing today, How to Clean Indoor Houseplants and Shine the Leaves! Plus we have some easy plant food tips too!
You can also use this for any outdoor potted plant that is looking dull or has a powdery substance on it.
First I will share with you how to do it, and then I want to share with you WHY this actually works.
Epsom Salt (Regular not scented)
First, mix up a ratio of milk to water. About 40% milk to 60% water. So, for my small little spray bottle I did ½ cup of milk with ¾ cup water. You can do as little or as much as you need. Next spray your plants leaves underneath and on top. Rub gently with a cloth, then wipe off with a clean dry cloth.
You will notice immediately how it shines up and removes any residue the plant has on it. When you look the next day, it almost looks like fake plant with the shine!
For plant food: Believe it or not, milk has some beneficial ingredients that are great for plants. In addition, I also like to make an Epsom salt spray which you can use every few weeks.
In a spray bottle, mix 2 cups of water to 1 tbsp of Epsom salt, lightly spray the plant leaves. Don’t rub off, allow it to soak in.
NOTE: You do NOT have to use the Epsom salt spray, you can just use the milk spray. I don’t typically use them on the same days anyways, but it is nice to have an additional plant food option.
Epsom salt is one of the best natural fertilizers for houseplants. Magnesium and sulfate (which is what Epsom salt actually is) are beneficial for indoor plants to get bright, vivid leaves. Since they don’t get much sunlight, it really gives the leaves an extra boost.
Epsom salt spray can be used every 2-3 weeks.
The other fertilizer I use is my slow release plant food from the book. I put that around the base every 3-4 weeks and it makes such a difference!
We also have our liquid plant food. Many readers use this for indoor plants too with success. I typically prefer this for outdoor plants since it was designed for that.
Why is milk used?
Using milk as a leaf shiner is an old gardening/science tip. I learned about it when I took horticulture, but decided to study it more in depth to see if it was really something useful.
Milk contains anti-microbial, anti-fungal/anti-bacterial properties that treat powdery mildews and other issues that cause plants to have that dull, white look.
Another important substance in milk is the proteins. Proteins help dissolved residue on the leaf to brighten it up.
Calcium is a key nutrient for plants, so milk also helps internally.
Can I substitute other milk?
You must use dairy milk to get the shining benefits. Other milks like almond and cashew do not have active cultures like this, so it doesn’t work. I have tried it!
Should I use skim or whole milk?
I have done this with whole milk, reduced fat, and skim milk. I like the way reduced fat and skim work best. They have less fat, so they mix better with water to create a smooth spray.
Whole milk does work, I just didn’t think it shined it as much.
Will just using water work?
No, it doesn’t work as well. Water will clean the leaves, but it doesn’t get rid of some heavy duty residue. It does not create the shine.
Does this have an odor?
NO! In fact, once you mix the water with milk, all milk smells go away. It will not leave a bad scent or sour odor over time.
Doesn’t this attract bugs or gnats?
I have never had this attract more bugs. You wipe off the leaves once you spray, so no substance is left over. (P.S – if you do struggle with indoor bugs, the granite/stone mult-purpose cleaner on page 13 is what I use to treat them. I just spray the soil and it kills/deters bugs, it’s amazing stuff)
Do I have to use Epsom Salt?
Epsom salt is strictly optional, it has no bearing on the leaves shining or not. The Epsom salt is just a great option for added nutrients for all houseplants. I do not use these together. The milk spray I use as needed, the Epsom salt spray I will use every 3-4 weeks.
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Indoor plants are popular among homeowners for a wide variety of reasons. They add a touch of nature and greenery to our houses. But to keep them looking their best and to help them thrive, you should clean indoor plant leaves from time to time.
How do you clean indoor plant leaves? The best ways to clean indoor plant leaves depends on the type of plant, the type of leaves and the nature of the dirt. The best ways are to wipe them with a cloth, duster or brush, rinse them with water, spray them with a dilute soap solution or use compressed air to remove dirt.
Cleaning your indoor plant leaves doesn’t have to be a difficult job. The following methods are simple ways using mostly items from around your home to clean indoor plant leaves. They won’t harm your plants and will help to keep them healthy.
Methods for Cleaning Indoor Plants
Regardless of how clean we like to think we keep our homes, inevitably there is microscopic dirt and dust that floats around in the air. Over time this dust settles on surfaces — plant leaves included — creating a layer of dirt that needs to removed.
Cleaning your indoor plant leaves is a simple process, albeit not always a quick one. There are a handful of different ways your plants can be cleaned with many of them needing nothing more than common, everyday household items.
The following seven methods are the most commonly used ways that people clean the leaves on their indoor plants. Some work better in certain situations, depending on the size of the plants, the types of leaves the plants have, and how dirty they are in general. Which method you choose depends on the type(s) of plant that needs cleaning and how much time and effort you want to invest in the process.
Let’s start off with some of the simpler, more general methods that work well for plants that aren’t overly dirty and work our way into more specific or in-depth cleaning methods.
Dust Leaves With A Feather Duster
When there is only a fine layer of dust you can quickly remove this accumulation with a feather duster or other similar product.
The best type of feather dusters have down ostrich feathers; these feathers trap dust better than any other type, with black feathers being even better than grey plumage. Gently brush over the foliage to remove as much dirt as possible without being too rough and possibly snapping leaves off the stem. When you are done take the duster outside, holding it close to the ground, and shake it vigorously to “empty” the dust from the feathers.
This method doesn’t always remove all of the dirt and dust but will get your plants from one cleaning to the next with fewer effects from buildup. It also makes it easier the next time you attempt a more extensive cleaning of your indoor plant leaves.
Wipe The Dust Off The Leaves
Cleaning my cast iron plant – Learn more about how to look after cast iron plants here.
One of the next simple methods is to wipe the dust from your indoor plant leaves. This works best for plants that aren’t terribly dirty and have either only a few leaves or their leaves are larger in size.
This method isn’t an efficient option for plants with numerous, smaller leaves due to its tedious nature but can be used if you want to expend the time and energy. It cleans the leaves without leaving water spots, a benefit over some of the other options such as rinsing plants off
The only items that are required to clean your leaves this way are a piece of cloth and some lukewarm or tepid water (distilled water is best if available). The cloth can be a washcloth, a hand towel, or a microfiber rag; the most important thing is that the material is soft enough to prevent scratching of the leaf surface. An even better option is to cut up an old t-shirt and use the scrap pieces of cloth to wipe your plants down!
Dampen your cloth with clean water and carefully wipe the top and bottom of each individual leaf. Use your free hand to support the underside of each leaf as you wipe it down to prevent damage or snapping the leaf from the plant’s stem.
Avoid using hot or cold water and rinse the cloth out periodically to wash off the collected dirt and grime. A second, dry cloth can be used to remove any excess water left behind on the leaves.
Dunk The Plant In Water
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Now we get into the methods that use water. Smaller plants or those with lots of leaves can benefit from giving them a quick dunk in a bath of tepid water. To remove a light coating of dust start by filling a sink or wash basin with lukewarm water. Invert the containers carefully, using one hand to hold the plant and soil inside the pot, and gently dunk/swish the leaves in the tepid water.
After you have swirled the plant around in the tepid water, flip it back so it is right-side up and allow it to drip dry before moving it back to its original location. If there is a lot of water on the leaves you can gently blot them dry with paper towels or a soft cloth/rag. Drying the leaves like this helps prevent water spots from forming on the leaf surface, and requiring you to clean them again.
If you’re worried about making a mess when you invert containers, there are a couple of tricks to make it easier. To keep the soil from spilling everywhere when you invert containers you can either water the soil well beforehand to bind it together somewhat in the container or wrap the top of the pot in plastic wrap to act as a barrier, holding the soil in.
Rinse Indoor Plants Off In The Shower
If your indoor plants are too large to tip them over and give them a good dunk in the kitchen sink or bathtub then it might be in your best interest to simply give them a shower instead.
Move plants to the bathtub and using lukewarm water gently spray them with the shower head to rinse off all of the dust or grime. Be careful to not allow the spray to become too forceful, damaging or snapping leaves from the plant stems.
After rinsing them well, allow plants to air dry before moving them back to their home, or gently blot them dry with paper towels or a soft cloth if water is collecting on their leaves.
If there is salt build up on the soil surface (it appears as a white crust) from fertilizing with plant food, this method works well to rinse it down through the soil and out the bottom of the container.
Clean Fuzzy Leaves With A Brush
Plants with fuzzy or furry leaves need to be cleaned with a method other than water since water can damage the tiny hairs on the leaf surfaces. In this case, use a soft brush such as a small craft paintbrush, a soft-bristled toothbrush or something like a mushroom brush to clean plant leaves.
This method works well on plants with pubescent hairs such as African Violets. The fine hairs attract dust and dirt but they can be damaged if water gets on the leaves. A soft brush coaxes the dirt and dust out from between the hairs without causing any damage; the soft bristles gently sweep away dirt and debris.
Work from the base of leaves out towards the tip, moving from the top of the plant to the bottom. Periodically blow the dust out of the bristles or wipe the brush quickly across a papertowel or other surface to knock the debris loose.
Use Compressed Air To Clean Cactus And Succulents
On the other hand, cactus and other succulents require a little bit different care than your standard houseplants when it comes to cleaning their “leaves”. Their plant parts have a waxy coating on them as an adaptation to their arid environment.
This protective coating helps to prevent evaporation, holding water inside the plant tissue and in turn increasing their ability to withstand drought conditions. Spraying water on the plant to rinse off dust and grime or swishing/dunking them in water causes this coating to disentegrate. Instead of using water to clean cacti and succulents it’s best instead to use a can of compressed air to clean them.
When using compressed air to clean cacti or succulents hold the can at least 10 – 12 inches away from the plants and spray in short, sweeping bursts to dislodge the dust and dirt. This project might be best done outside if you don’t want to blow dust all over the inside of your home. Be careful to not spray for extended amount of time as the air gets too cold and can damage the plant tissue.
Spray Plants With A Soap Solution
In the case that your indoor plants are considerably dirty, it may take more than a simple dunk or spray with water to really clean them well. When plants are abnormally dirty it’s alright to mix a gentle soap solution to help remove the dirt and grime.
Create a solution containing a ¼ teaspoon of dish soap per quart of lukewarm water in a spray bottle, shaking it well to mix, and then gently mist the entire plant while it sits in the sink or bathtub.
After spraying plants with the soap solution gently rinse them thoroughly with lukewarm water to remove any soap residue. Allow to air dry (or pat with a clean paper towel or soft cloth) and then put them back in their windowsill or other favored location.
Important Considerations When Cleaning Indoor Plant Leaves
Regardless of which methods you decide to use on your plants, there are a couple of key things to keep in mind when cleaning their leaves:
- How often your indoor plants need to be cleaned depends on the conditions within your home and immediate surroundings. If you live in a windy area, on a dirt road, or close to a construction site you will need to clean them more often than plant owners in “cleaner” conditions. The frequency plants are cleaned also depends on whether there is a filtration system on your furnace, the quality of filters you purchase, and how often they are changed.
- When it is time to clean your plants, make sure to pay attention to the undersides of the foliage, the stems, and the stalks. These plant parts shouldn’t be ignored because they need a little tender loving care once in a while as well. Dust may not collect on them the way it does on the top surface of the leaves, but it still can accumulate.
- If you choose to use one of the following methods that utilizes water to clean your plant leaves, stick to lukewarm or tepid water. Cold water leaves water spots on the leaf surfaces and water that is too hot or too cold temperature wise may shock the root systems, damaging the plant. Houseplants, by origin, are tropical creatures. They aren’t accustomed nor adapted to really cold or really hot rainfalls; they prefer what we would consider being room temperature or lukewarm water.
- As water evaporates it leaves behind mineral salts such as calcium and magnesium. In the event that the leaves of your indoor plant develop these telltale spots, there are ways to remove them.
An easy way to rid leaves of watermarks is to dampen a rag with distilled water or rain water (neither contain the problematic minerals) and gently wipe the leaves down similar to the process mentioned above. For hard to remove deposits, mix one tablespoon of distilled white vinegar into one quart of distilled or rain water and dab this solution gently on the leaves. Allow to sit for a minute and then wipe or rinse clean with pure distilled or rain water.
Why Is Cleaning Your Indoor Plant Leaves Important?
Now that we’ve covered how to clean your indoor plant leaves, it’s a good idea to explain why it’s important.
Plant leaves are more then just for show. They have very specific functions in plant growth, and dirty leaves can impede growth and overall plant health. Just like your own body it’s important to keep them clean.
Functions Of Plant Leaves
There are three main functions completed by the leaves of plants: the production of food through photosynthesis, gas exchange between the plant and the atmosphere, and water evaporation through transpiration. Dirt and/or dust covering the leaf surface hinders these functions, and in turn affects the health and growth of the plant.
Photosynthesis is one of the most important biological processes that plants complete. It is a chemical process used by plants to create sugars usable for food. Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is combined with water taken in through the roots; sunlight is captured by the leaves and drives the process to create oxygen and glucose.
Dust covering the surface of leaves hinders their ability to absorb the light energy from the sun and photosynthesis slows. When photosynthesis slows, plants don’t generate the sugar needed for energy to grow, flower, or ward off insects and diseases.
Gas And Water Vapor Exchange
Small openings in the leaves of plants, called stoma or stomata, open and close based on environmental conditions (i.e. ambient atmospheric temperature, relative humidity) to allow gas and water vapor exchange.
Stomata open to draw in carbon dioxide and release oxygen during photosynthesis; they also open to allow the evaporation of water — known as transpiration — to facilitate the cycle of moisture coming in through the roots and moving through the plant.
Anything blocking stomatal opening — especially dirt and oils collected from the air — hinders gas and water vapor exchange, slowing down plant processes and impacting growth.
Cleaning your indoor plant leaves periodically using one — or a couple — of the methods mentioned above removes accumulated dust and dirt from their surface, allowing leaves to function in an optimal manner. This optimizes plant processes occuring at the leaf sufaces such as photosynthesis and gas and water vapor exchange, helping to encourage healthy plant growth.
Can commercial plant cleaners be used to remove dirt and dust from the leaves?
People often make the mistake of using these products to clean their plants, when they should be avoided. These commercial products contain ingredients that clog the leaf stoma, inhibiting gas and water exchange, and defeating the purpose of cleaning the leaves.
Is Leaf Shine Good For Plants?
Commercial products intended to give leaves a shiny, glossy finish should be avoided for the same reason commercial cleaners aren’t recommended. Many of these products contain waxes that clog stoma.