The saying, “When you look good, you feel good,” does not just apply to humans but also to plants. When your plants are looking their best, they are feeling their best. Keeping their leaves shiny is one way to promote this philosophy.
Here are ten cleaning tips for keeping the leaves of indoor plants shiny:
- Soap, water, and a soft washcloth
- Plain water
- Mineral oil
- Diluted milk
- Banana peels
- Highly diluted vinegar water
- Highly diluted lemon water
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
The rest of this article will explain these tips in greater detail. We will also cover why you might want to skip commercial leaf cleaners and more later on, so be sure to stick around for the long haul. Let us get started.
1. Soap, Water, and a Soft Washcloth
Good old soap and water never fail to get the job done! If you want to clean off your plant leaves and are hesitant about what products to use, start with soap and water.
Using a soft washcloth is best for this job as it will allow for a smoother clean without harming your plant. Dip your soft washcloth into warm water and mild soap before gently rubbing the topside and underside of your plant’s leaves.
Once all your plant leaves have been wiped down with your soap and water mixture, go over them with another washcloth of only water to get the soap off.
This method is a simple, no-nonsense, and safe way to clean off your plants’ leaves.
2. Plain Water
This method is even more straightforward and less fussy than soap, water, and a washcloth. Water is also the absolute most natural way to clean your plants if you are concerned about using any form of chemicals on your plants.
You will want to use a spray hose, showerhead, or tap for this cleaning method. The point is to make sure the water isn’t too warm.
Placing your plant under your spray hose, showerhead, or tap, gently wet and rinse the leaves off. Use your hands to shake the leaves back and forth under the water flow to loosen any debris that might be hidden.
Let your plant dry, and there you have it; clean and dust-free leaves.
3. Mineral Oil
I know what you might be thinking 一Oil clogs pores. So why is an oil product being recommended for cleaning a plant?
Mineral oil has many uses, including as a body oil that allows the skin to stay moisturized without being greasy. So if people trust to use it on their skin and for multiple other purposes, trust that it will be safe for your plant.
This method can be done once or twice a year, using a small amount of mineral oil. Here’s how to go about it:
- Apply a drop of the oil onto the top side of the leaf
- Smear the oil evenly with your fingers until the entire leaf surface is covered.
- Repeat on the rest of the leaves.
Once you are finished with each plant, move it away from direct sunlight until the oil dries out. Even though mineral oil is safe to use, it is still an oil, and it will fry in the sun and leave the leaves crispy and potentially damaged.
You’re not sure what mineral oil to use? Simply use regular baby oil to prevent moisture loss. It is hypoallergenic and trusted to use on a baby’s skin, so trust to use it on your plants’ skin!
4. Diluted Milk
This one might sound weird and like a waste of milk that your milk lovers and cats might enjoy, but hear us out!
Milk contains some minerals and vitamins that can be beneficial for your plant health. Additionally, the protein in milk can break up debris or residue on the plants’ leaves. Thanks to its antibacterial and antifungal properties, milk is often used to treat powdery mildews.
The fat contained in whole milk (that you will not find in skim milk) is what gives the leaves a shiny look. However, this is only a temporary solution for glossy leaves. So if you choose this method, be aware that your leaves will not look shiny for long.
For this method, you need to dilute the milk with 60 percent water. Spray your diluted milk mixture onto the plant and buff the leaves with a soft washcloth.
5. Banana Peels
Banana peels finally have a purpose! These are another strange leaf cleaning method, but one that is proven to be effective. Also, it is all-natural and leaves a pleasant scent behind.
You will want to use the soft inner part of the banana peel on the leaves because that’s where the natural oils are. Rub the surface of the leaves gently with the delicate inner part of the peel until they’re shiny.
The biggest downside to this method is that it takes up more time than other methods. It would be best to use banana peels on your plant’s leaves once a week or whenever you notice your plants’ leaves looking dull.
If you eat a lot of bananas and do not mind the extra effort, this method could be a great way to repurpose the peels.
Bonus tip: Crushed banana peels can also be used to make tea. And after all that cleaning, you deserve a nice cup of tea. However, we do not recommend using the same banana peels for cleaning and tea making!
6. Highly Diluted Vinegar Water
Highly diluted vinegar water is one of the riskier methods for keeping your plants’ leaves shiny, so proceed with caution if you decide to take this route.
When vinegar is improperly diluted, it can cause chemical burns and discoloration on your plants’ leaves. If you have a plant with more delicate leaves (meaning the leaves are thinner and softer), you might want to avoid this method because it might burn the leaves off.
If your plant does not have delicate leaves, or you feel confident in your ability to dilute the vinegar properly, you can clean your plant’s leaves in the following steps:
- Mix a teaspoon of vinegar into a gallon of water (or half a teaspoon of vinegar for a half-gallon of water).
- Dip a soft washcloth into the mixture
- Gently apply the vinegar mix to the leaves.
The beauty of this method is that the scent of vinegar is also a pest and pet repellant, so you are protecting your plant and making it look better.
7. Highly Diluted Lemon Water
Highly diluted lemon water is another risky option that carries the same risks as the highly diluted vinegar water. But since the measurements and the rewards are slightly different, we deem it necessary to add them to the list.
Mix half a lemon squeezed into a pint of water. Dip a soft washcloth into the mixture and gently apply the lemon mixture to the leaves. Though this mixture does not act as a pest repellent, it will dissolve mineral deposits caused by hard tap water!
Disclaimer: The rewards are not as great, and overall, the benefits of this mixture do not seem to outweigh the rewards.
Mayonnaise is a popular method that gets mixed reviews. Some plant enthusiasts love it, while others hate it.
Mayonnaise does leave your plant leaves looking shiny. All you do is rub a bit of it onto the leaves using a paper towel, and you have glossy leaves for weeks to come.
The Downsides of This Method
This method has three significant downsides to it.
- Mayonnaise can clog up your leaves’ pores. Clogged pores negatively impact plant health. Plants have difficulty breathing and making food with clogged pores.
- Mayonnaise attracts bugs. Bugs are attracted to food smells. So if your plant smells like mayonnaise, they will think your plant is something to chow down on! And bugs can cause many issues for your plants, so you want to prevent pests as much as possible.
- Mayonnaise can actually attract dust to your plant! The texture of mayonnaise is a dust magnet. So it would be counterproductive to use this product to dust your plant when it just causes more dust to accumulate on your plant!
It is up to you to weigh the pros and cons of this method before choosing it. While weighing up your options, why not use that mayonnaise to make yourself a sandwich? The best decisions are made on a full stomach!
9. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil does an excellent job at giving your plants shiny leaves, but it is not the most recommended method for cleaning your plant’s leaves. Here are some of the many reasons why coconut oil is not the most highly recommended plant cleaning method:
- When used on houseplants, it clogs their pores 一just as mayonnaise does.
- It makes your plant a dust magnet, which is ironic because you are trying to rid your plant of dust!
- Coconut oil makes it harder for your plants to absorb moisture, making them repellant to humidity. So if your plant enjoys humidity, this will not make them very happy!
- Coconut oil makes your plant more vulnerable to sunburn.
So with this method, you take the risk of having burnt and crispy leaves and clogged pores. If, for some reason, you still want to give this method a try, we recommend keeping these oiled-up plants out of direct sunlight.
The one upside we can say about this method is that coconut oil can prevent fungal diseases and other issues on plants because of its richness in antifungal and microbial properties.
So if you have been dealing with fungal issues with your plants, this method could be worth trying. If not, maybe try another method on our list for better results.
10. Olive Oil
Olive oil is another method that is not highly recommended but is one some people still choose to use. Let us examine why that might be.
You should not use pure, undiluted olive oil to shine the leaves on your houseplants because the oil clogs up the pores of your plant’s leaves, making it harder for your plant to absorb moisture and humidity.
Without the proper amount of water and adequate airflow, your plant will not grow properly, and will start to wither away and burn from the heat of the sun.
Olive oil is used in cooking to help make things hotter so your food will cook properly. So it should be no surprise that putting this oil on your plant and then that plant residing in the sunlight will cause the plant to “cook.”
The grease from coconut oil also attracts more dirt to your plant. When the purpose of cleaning your plants’ leaves is to get rid of dust, why would you want to use something that attracts dust?
However, some experts claim that if you dilute olive oil with water and then spray it onto the plant, the results will be better for the overall look and health of the plant.
So if there is some part of you who would still like to try this method, then give it a try, but proceed with caution! Unless the plant you are cleaning is one you intend to cook, like spinach or kale, then try a different method.
The Importance of Keeping Your Plants’ Leaves Shiny
Keeping your plant’s leaves shiny might seem like a strange chore to add to your chore list, but it is crucial for good plant care.
Dust accumulates on every surface in our homes, and our plants are no exception to that. Dust and dirt clog the pores of the leaves, and a dirty plant is a magnet for pests because dust provides more opportunities to hide.
A dusty plant is also dull and lackluster-looking, which brings down its beauty and the curb appeal of its surroundings. Also, if you have allergies to dust, you do not want to risk having a sneezing fit every time you water your plant!
When we care for our plants, they take care of us in return, making our relationship with them mutually beneficial. An unhealthy plant in our homes can equal unhealthy air quality, making us sick or making conditions like asthma or allergies worse.
We bathe ourselves when we feel dirty. Doing so improves our overall look, smell, and health. So why not give our plants the same care we give ourselves?
So for the benefit of your health and your plant’s health, wipe your plants down several times a month with one of the above options to prevent dirt and dust buildup.
Why You Should Skip the Commercial Leaf Cleaners
You might have looked at this list and wondered why we did not mention any commercial leaf cleaners. Miracle-Gro, the leading expert in all things plant, has one, so surely it must be good, right? Sadly, even Miracle-Gro has not quite gotten leaf cleaners right.
There is no doubt that, on the surface, commercial leaf cleaners do a great job of making your plants shiny. But beneath the surface, they damage your plants.
Leaf cleaners’ harsh chemicals and oils can lead to buildup on your plant and clogged pores. Clogged pores mean your plant’s respiration can become blocked, hindering its growth. Overall, these commercial leaf cleaners do not benefit the health and development of your houseplants.
Given the harm these commercial leaf cleaners can do to your plant, we cannot recommend these cleaners to our readers in good conscience.
There are numerous methods you can use to keep your plants’ leaves shiny. Some of them are proven to be better than others, and some recommend trying on the side of caution.
Though it is lovely to have plants that look shiny and Pinterest-worthy, we must always consider the plant’s health first.
So when considering these methods, please choose the ones that will most benefit the overall health of your plant.
If you’d like to learn about the best steps to green up any houseplant, consider checking out my other article: How to Make Any Houseplant Greener (Easy Methods)