Are you cleaning your houseplants properly? Experts reveal how to do it the right way

It's an often forgotten task for plant parents alike, but it certainly pays to keep on top of it

Wooden shelves displaying various colourful decorative items and houseplants
(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Lee)

Knowing how to clean indoor plant leaves is of utmost importance for many plant parents, but admittedly, it's a task that more often than not we may overlook. Caring for the best houseplants doesn't end at just employing a regular watering schedule, but extends to keeping their leaves maintained too.

Living room houseplant ideas have risen in popularity as a way not only to inject colour and texture into a space but also as a necessity to remove harmful toxins from the air and improve your well-being – not to mention, the benefit of housing the best plants in your bedroom.

Given all the positives of owning a houseplant collection for yourself, it pays to ensure you're clued up on the best care practices that your plant babies will thank you for.

Wooden shelves displaying various colourful decorative items and houseplants

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Why is it important to keep houseplant leaves clean?

'In the realm of urban living, where good light and space are precious commodities, each house plant becomes a cherished treasure. Their care, entirely dependent on the owner, spans from watering and feeding to meticulous cleaning,' says Jack Lewis, founder and CEO at Sowvital.

'The care given to your plants can be seen more broadly in the balance and harmony of your home, so plant care becomes self-care. Maintaining the cleanliness of your indoor house plants' leaves is a vital aspect of their overall health and well-being.'

Green sofa in a living room with a retro coffee table and prints on wall

(Image credit: Future PLC / Brent Darby)

1. Dust can inhibit their ability to photosynthesise

Kate Lindley, product manager at Baby Bio explains, 'Keeping the dust off your houseplants' leaves not only makes them look more attractive but also helps to maximise the light reaching the plant and encourages more growth.'

'The natural accumulation of dust and grime that can occur in the home can significantly impact your plants' ability to photosynthesise, reducing the amount of light they can absorb and, consequently, the energy they can produce,' adds Jack.

'Pores in leaves (stomata) open widest when plants are photosynthesising under strong light conditions, removing debris allows them to flourish and thrive making the most of the natural light source.'

Decorated pink stairway and wall art

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Jane Watson)

2. Keeping leaves clean can deter pests

'Another crucial reason for keeping your plants' leaves clean is to deter pests. A leaf that is not regularly cleaned can become a veritable playground for the pests that frequent houseplants,' warns Jack. This is especially important when it comes to kitchen plant ideas, to keep your kitchen fresh and pest-free.

Houseplants on wooden shelves

(Image credit: Sowvital)

How to clean indoor plant leaves

'We've heard people say that they use olive oil to clean their houseplants' leaves, but we would strongly urge them not to do this! While using olive oil might make your leaves look shiny and new temporarily, it can also damage your plant's health for good,' she warns.

Therefore, experts recommend that the best thing you can do to clean indoor plant leaves is to just take a damp cloth and gently wipe them down.

Kitchen sink and counter, wooden ladder shelf with plants displayed

(Image credit: Future PLC)

'Particularly, when it comes to plants with large, rubbery leaves like a Monstera, it's important to gently dust leaves regularly with a damp cloth to remove any dust that has gathered,' advises Kate.

If you really wanted to up the ante and keep your leaves looking even shinier, you could incorporate a natural leaf shine product into your regime. However, regular maintenance with just a damp cloth can already do wonders for your plant's health.

White panelled bedroom with bed, houseplant, cat, hanging wall art and bag

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

As we had mentioned, cleaning your houseplant leaves is admittedly an often forgotten or overlooked task, but given the benefits of squeaky clean leaves, it'll be a job you'll thank yourself for doing in the long run. 

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is Ideal Home’s Junior Writer. She’s always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham in 2022. Previously, she was an Intern Editor for ArchDaily. Now focused on news stories, Jullia can be found down the TikTok and Pinterest rabbit hole scrolling through any new and upcoming trends, hacks, and home inspiration.