Cleaning your plant’s leaves with a mixture of water and vinegar can be an effective way to remove dust or any kind of residue on the surface of the leaves.
Mix a tablespoon of vinegar and two cups of water and, using a cloth, apply the solution to the leaves. This not only cleans your plants; it can also keep pests and pets away.
In this article, we will discuss more how to use vinegar to clean your plant’s leaves, and why it is important.
Is it important to clean a houseplant’s leaves?
Yes, you should make it a part of your regular house-cleaning routine to clean your houseplants as well. Remember that plants’ leaves have a considerable surface area, and soil and dust particles, water marks and mineral buildup can remain on the leaves if you do not clean them. All the substances that accumulate on the leaves will form a layer that acts as a shield against the sunlight. If the light can no longer reach the plant’s leaves, this can have detrimental effects on the plant’s overall health. The plant will be unable to photosynthesize properly, and therefore unable to produce food for its vitality and survival.
Another reason you need to clean your houseplants is that there might be foreign dirt on the plant, especially if you have just brought it home from the store or from a greenhouse. Accumulated dirt from the greenhouse may include hard water, condensation from the ceiling, foliage cleaners and pesticides. You will sleep better knowing you are not going to be bringing those elements into your home.
Before taking any new plant into your home, as well as any of the existing plants that you may have taken outside for some time, consider that these plants may be harboring pests that you need to eradicate before taking the plant back inside.
There is an assortment of possible pests that could be living on the plant, such as white flies, aphids, scale insects and mealybugs. Wipe down the entire plant to remove the insects and their eggs. You might have to dispose of the cloth you used so that you do not use it on any of your healthy plants.
Lastly, plants will look shinier and prettier if their leaves are not covered in a layer of filth and dirt. So, if you want to maintain the plant’s aesthetic, cleaning it periodically is an easy way to do this.
How often do you need to clean your houseplant?
The frequency of cleaning your plants will often depend on the household. Some households only get noticeably dusty every two weeks, while others seem to get dusty every week. This is a good basis for how often you need to clean your plants. If the surfaces in your house, such as furniture or countertops, have a layer of dust or grime on them, chances are your plants will also have this much dust and grime on them.
If you live next to a dirt road or some other place that is dustier than most, it might be best to check on your plants at least once a week.
What does one need to clean a houseplant?
There are different ways to go about cleaning your houseplants’ leaves, and the tools you use will also depend on the type of dirt that is on the leaves. If you are only going to clean off dirt and dust, you can just use a feather duster or a damp cloth.
When using a damp cloth, hold the back of the leaf with the palm of your hand to act as a brace as you wipe it. This is also so you are not pulling on the stem while cleaning, which would risk pulling the leaf off by accident. Apply as much pressure as needed to clean off the dirt. You can also use a feather duster to remove dust from leaves the same way.
Another way to gently clean a houseplant is by using a shower. This is better for plants that are more delicate or have leaves that are too small to effectively clean individually. Place the shower on a warm setting and make sure the pressure is on low; this way you are not blasting the delicate plant with a strong stream of water. Make sure you rotate the plant while under the shower so that it gets washed from all angles.
What if the residue cannot be removed with a damp cloth or a shower?
If the grime is not easily removed, you can use other methods to clean the leaves. Thankfully, the materials you will need are already in your home.
Remember that these methods are not advisable for use on a regular basis. Only use them when the grime is stubborn and cannot be removed by the methods mentioned above.
For the vinegar method, you will need two cups of soft water, if available, one tablespoon of white vinegar, and a soft cloth.
Mix the vinegar and the water together in a bowl. Dip the cloth into the solution and, with your non-dominant hand, brace the back of the leaf while wiping the leaf down with your other hand. Try not to pull on the stems, but still apply the pressure necessary to wipe properly.
Vinegar is very effective in removing stubborn residue and water marks from leaves. Vinegar can also be a great pest repellent, as well as keeping curious pets from disturbing the plant. Mineral buildup from hard water can also be removed easily by water and vinegar, so do not worry about those unsightly white stains on your plant’s leaves.
Lime or lemon juice method
Another method you can use is to mix a tablespoon of lemon or lime juice with two cups of water. Dip the cloth into the solution and do the same as you would do with a vinegar solution. Brace the back of the leaf with one hand and wipe down the leaf with the cloth in your other hand. Try not to use the same area of the cloth twice, so that no dirt will transfer to the clean parts of the leaf.
Clean your plant’s leaves with vinegar by mixing one tablespoon of vinegar in two cups of water and using this solution on a cloth to wipe down the leaves.
This solution can effectively remove not only dirt and dust on the leaves’ surface but also stains and water marks left by hard water. The mineral buildup from several weeks of watering the plant is easily cleaned off by the vinegar and water solution.
Do not use this solution as a regular method for cleaning your plants. You are better off cleaning the leaves with a damp cloth every two weeks to make sure the sunlight is not blocked from reaching the leaves by dirt and dust.
Image: istockphoto.com / Elena Rui