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How and Why to Clean Your Houseplants: An Easy 3-Step Guide

Wondering how to keep your houseplants clean? Learn about plant maintenance practices & the best ways to clean indoor plants.

When it comes to plant care, everyone knows that lighting and water are key. One element of plant care that gets overlooked, however, is regular cleaning. Just like the other objects in your home, plants can get dusty. As that dust collects on plants, it causes their sheen to become dull and affects normal plant processes like photosynthesis and respiration. Outdoor plants can rely on rain and wind to remove dust, but what’s an indoor plant to do?

Since your houseplants do so much for you, purifying your air and bringing style to your space, it only seems fair to keep them healthy and looking their shiny best. Find out how and when to clean your houseplants by reading the tips below.

Person holding up a leaf of a houseplant

Do All Houseplants Need to Be Cleaned?

Since all indoor plants collect dust, it’s a good idea to clean most houseplants, but there are some exceptions. Steer clear of dusting prickly cacti. Anything with spines or spikes won’t appreciate the hands-on attention, and likely neither will you.

That said, there are lots of other plants that love to be cleaned, like Chinese evergreens, ponytail palms, pileas, philodendrons, orchids, ZZ plants, fiddle leaf figs, and more. As long as the leaves of the plant aren’t too spikey or delicate, they’ll enjoy the regular pampering.

Person brushing a leaf of a houseplant

When to Clean Your Houseplants? 

Anytime you notice your plants losing their luster or appearing more dull, it’s time for a clean.

Don’t worry, the process of cleaning houseplants isn’t as tedious as tidying up the pantry. In fact, we find that this practice can actually be as soothing and restorative for us as it is for our plants. To get started, you’ll only need a handful of tools.  

Tools for Cleaning Houseplants

Tip: If you’re new to houseplants, you can grab the Plant Grooming Kit for all the essentials.

Once you have these items, you’re ready to begin the three steps to basic plant hygiene. Just follow this simple guide, and you’ll keep your indoor plants looking healthy, happy, and well-maintained throughout every season.

3 Steps for Cleaning Your Houseplants

Step 1: Remove Dead Leaves

First, get rid of all the dead or dying leaves on your plant. If you haven’t already, invest in a pair of sharp, high-quality Pruning Shears to get cleaner cuts. Cutting with dull shears can tear rather than cut the stem, and make new growth more difficult. Our shears are made with chrome plated, rust-resistant carbon steel to ensure that they’re durable and made to last.

You’ll want to sterilize the shears with rubbing alcohol between each use to make sure you’re not transferring any diseases between plants.

Person using pruning shears to cut off a dead leaf off a houseplant

Step 2: Wipe Down the Leaves

Now that you’re left with healthy leaves, it’s time to wipe off the dust. This is important for more than just aesthetic purposes. Dust blocks out light and air, making it difficult for your plants to photosynthesize and maintain a flow of carbon dioxide and oxygen. The increased oxygen plants create is one of the main benefits to having them in your home, so regular plant cleaning should be done to help maintain their efficiency.

Use a Plant Mister to lightly mist the leaves. We designed our Plant Misters free of plastic, using clear glass and rust-resistant brass instead. This prevents them from tarnishing even with the moisture emitted.

Then take a Dusting Cloth and gently wipe the mist and dust off the leaves. We prefer our reusable Dusting Cloths because they help reduce the waste of single-use paper towels. Handmade in Berlin, these organic cotton towels are soft enough to do no damage to your plant's leaves. For plants with fuzzy leaves, such as African violets, you can use a soft bristled brush to lightly remove dirt and dust from the leaves.

Person cleaning houseplant leaves with a dusting cloth.

Step 3: Clean the Surrounding Area

As leaves fall from your plants, the pot and surrounding area can get messy. Use a Soil Broom to sweep away dirt, dead leaves, and dust. We use real horsehair in our handcrafted Soil Broom because the bristles are especially thin and soft, enabling them to pick up fine dust and soil. The handles are made with varying solid wood types—walnut, cherry, and ash—which offer rustic beauty and long-lasting quality.

With this simple technique, you’ll notice that your plants really do look happier in your space. Which is good, because when your plants are happy, your whole home lights up with a lush, vibrant glow. Perform this cleansing routine as your houseplants grow, and a deeper connection with your plants is sure to grow in kind.

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