How to clean plant leaves

Believe it or not, dusting your plants is vitally important and has a direct impact on their development. Leaves are where photosynthesis takes place and are the organ through which plants breathe.

why should you clean the leaves of your plants?

When you catch a cold and the airways become congested it becomes very difficult to eat and breathe. A similar thing happens with the dust that settles on the leaves of plants.

Dirt, dust and other impurities block the surface of the leaves, which is where photosynthesis takes place, thus reducing the plant's ability to generate its own nutrients.

On the other hand, your plant is a living thing that needs oxygen to live.

A thick layer of dust covers the stomata, which are the structures through which plants breathe; so dirty leaves would be choking the poor thing.

Hence, cleaning the leaves should be a fundamental part of routine plant care and maintenance, in addition to watering and fertilising.

how often should you clean the leaves of plants?

The frequency of cleaning really depends on the amount of dust or impurities in the environment. For example, if there is construction work going on inside your house or nearby, then the amount of dust that accumulates in the air will be high and will require frequent cleaning; whereas if the plant is indoors, cleaning will be more spaced out.

The way to tell if your plant needs urgent cleaning is to touch the leaves. If you feel dust when you run your finger over the surface of the leaf, if you can leave a finger mark or if there is more dust than you can blow off, it is time to get down to work.

How to clean plant leaves

If you are wondering how to clean plant leaves, you should know that there are several methods and these can be more or less effective depending on the species and size of the plant. Cleaning plant leaves must be done respecting certain protocols, as you could damage them if you don't do it properly. Some options are:

Wash the whole plant

If possible, you can move the plant to the laundry room or bathroom and wash it. Use room temperature water, never freezing or very hot, as this can damage the leaves. If it is too dirty and dusty, you can gently scrub the leaves with a dilute solution of soapy water and then rinse under running water. If it is small, you can hold it upside down and immerse it in a bowl of water. Allow it to drain and dry before removing it to its place. Never expose it to the sun soaked in water, as the droplets can magnify the sun's rays and burn the leaves.

Clean leaf by leaf

This is ideal for plants with large, broad leaves, such as Adam's rib, areca palm, lemon dracaena, peace flower, tricolour maranta and any other large plants that you can't move. Take a soft cloth or clothette, dampen it with a little water, wring it out and wipe each leaf gently. If the dust is very sticky, you can use very diluted soapy water and then rinse with another cloth. Again, avoid leaving the plant in direct sunlight if it has become too wet.

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If you have cacti, succulents like echeveria, plants with fuzzy leaves like African violets that can't stand humidity because they get ruined, you can use a very soft brush or paintbrush to dust the leaves. Look for a large, long brush, it is perfect for dusting cacti without hurting yourself with the thorns.

Tips to clean your plants better

Large leaves can lose a bit of lustre and become dull with dust. There are several tricks to restore their shine and protect them. The first is to wipe the inside of a banana or plantain peel. You can also use a cloth soaked in a little olive oil. Some people use a little diluted beer or milk to keep them nice and shiny.

You can experiment, but try it on one leaf first before bathing the whole plant.

Take advantage of the cleaning of your plants to remove dry, brown or dead leaves.

Take the dry leaf in your hands and if it comes off easily, remove it. If not, use scissors. If it resists, reach for the scissors as you will damage the plant if you pull it off. You can also clean the pot, remove dust and any water marks. It will look neater.

It is advisable to always do your homework before cleaning the leaves of your plants, as there are species that do not tolerate moisture on their leaves, such as succulents. It is also advisable to do it at the end of the day, when the sun's rays are less strong, as this reduces the risk of burning the leaves with water. After a thorough cleaning, it will be easy to invest a few minutes in this task every week to prevent dust from accumulating. Your plants will thank you for it.

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About the author
Ame Rodríguez

Dedicated to creating an army of cacti, succulents, poodles and cats to help me conquer the world. In the little free time I have left, I play, write and dance.

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