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8 Ways to Clean Houseplants

It can be challenging to clean houseplants on a budget or if you have a busy schedule. Indoor plants can be beneficial for both your health and the appearance of your home, but if your plants are collecting dust, they aren’t helping your health and may harm your sense of peace and tranquility.

Keeping them clean also keeps them healthy since dust on the leaves can keep plants from absorbing carbon monoxide and prevent sunlight absorption. There are some quick and simple ways to keep houseplants clean, and most of the items needed to do the cleaning are already in your home.

1. Cotton Gloves

One of the simplest ways to keep plants cleanis with cotton gloves, especially if your home contains larger varieties like ficus, rubber trees, ZZ plants, or bamboo. Simply put the gloves on and wipe the dust off the leaves and stems of the plant. 

Wiping plants with cotton gloves prevents damage and avoids accidentally knocking pieces of the plant off during the cleaning process. Dampening the gloves can be helpful if the leaves of your houseplants are particularly dirty. 

2. Plant Misters

Plant Misters

If more than gloves or a dry cloth are needed to clean your houseplants, consider using a spray bottle or mister. Spraying water on the leaves will loosen any dirt so they can easily be wiped with a cloth or cotton gloves. 

Misting works well with larger plants with broad leaves but can be used on some smaller varieties as well, as long as the leaves are long enough or wide enough. It’s best to put plants in a sink or bathtub before spraying them to ensure there is no damage to the surfaces they’re sitting on. If this is not an option, consider taking them outside to mist before cleaning them.

3. Paintbrushes

Paintbrushes are an ideal way to clean your smaller houseplants, but they can be used for all types, depending on the paintbrush size. For small, potted succulents, fine-tipped brushes used for craft projects work perfectly to brush dust from in and around the stems and leaves. 

If the plants are particularly dusty, dip the brushes in water before using them to clean the plants. Brush from the base of the leaf to the tip. Toothbrushes, cotton swabs, and pipe cleaners also work in a pinch.

For larger plants, consider the types of brushes you would use to paint the walls of your house. You’re less likely to need water in these situations. 

If you choose to wet the brush, do so sparingly. On plants with larger leaves, brushes work best for dry dusting.

4. Water Bucket

While you can use wet brushes or rags to clean your plants, it may be more beneficial to dunk the whole plant in a bucket of water to clean it. Hold the soil around the plant in place, then turn it over and dunk it in water, swishing it around to clean the plant’s leaves. 

Use lukewarm water for best results. You can then allow it to air dry or use a cloth or gloves to dry them.

Consider wrapping plastic wrap over the top of the soil to keep it in place while dunking it. If the houseplants you’re cleaning are ones you keep in the kitchen, where grime is likelier to build up, you can use a mild detergent in the water when you dunk and swish them for cleaning. 

5. Canned Air

Canned Air

Canned or compressed air used to get dust out of an office keyboard can be used to clean sturdier houseplants. The air pressure method of cleaning houseplants is recommended for cacti and other succulents. 

But be careful not to use compressed air on more delicate plants, as it can cause damage. Try not to use it for long periods, as the can will become cold, and exposing the leaves to these temperatures can be detrimental. 

6. Feather Duster

Feather Duster

Feather or Swiffer dusters are excellent options for otherwise hard-to-clean plants. They are gentle on plants and will work on small and large plant varieties with all different types of leaves. Traditional feather dusters may be more challenging to find these days, but the Swiffer variety can be purchased in grocery and big box stores.

If your houseplants aren’t excessively dirty, a feather duster may be the best way to clean them, and it’s undoubtedly the fastest. However, using a duster isn’t a suitable option for plants in the kitchen that may collect oil and grease on their leaves. While it may remove some dust, much more will be caught in the sticky residue on the leaves.

7. Shower


For bigger plants in the home, moving them to the shower may be the best way to clean them. This is also a good option if you have a lot of plants to clean. 

Simply place all your plants in the shower and turn the water on. This also reduces your cleanup after the fact. 

Just be sure not to use too much water pressure, or you will displace the soil in your pots. Once you’ve sprayed the dust and dirt off your plants, leave them in the tub or shower basin to air dry before returning them to their original location.  

8. Milk and Water or Mayo

Mayo or a combination of milk and water can be used to make leaves shine. However, the opinion is divided on whether or not it is a good idea. 

There are professional leaf shine treatments, but these use chemicals that may not be great for your plants or home environment and the people and animals in it. Organic options include mayonnaise or a mixture of milk and water. 

If mayonnaise is being used, put a small amount on a cloth and polish the surface of each leaf. When using a milk and water mixture, combine ¾ cup of milk with ½ cup of water and spray it on the plants, then wipe with a clean cloth.

While many people swear by these natural remedies and even encourage using milk because it also functions as a fertilizer or plant food, others caution against them, warning that using mayonnaise or milk can clog the plant’s pores and do more harm than good. Either option may also leave an additional residue on your plants, which could cause more dirt and dust to adhere to the leaves and make future cleanings more challenging.