Welcome to Plant Week: Our guide to all things indoor plants, including tips for beginners, advice on care, and tons of plant-spo.
Plants are as much a part of a home's decor as the furniture, yet they're often overlooked during routine housecleaning. Plant care is more than just water once a week and fertilizer come spring — in order to survive, let alone thrive, plants need to be clean. Their leaves in particular are magnets for dust and dirt, and if left untended, all that grime will start to make plants sick. The more dust that accumulates, the less sunlight leaves receive, making photosynthesis a lot harder for your plant to achieve. Undernourished plants are more vulnerable to diseases and pests — plus, all that dust just looks gross too.
Luckily, cleaning your plants doesn't have to be a huge chore. After you complete basic maintenance, there's a secret ingredient to use in your plant cleaning routine — and it's probably already in your fridge.
Prune dead leaves
Cut off any yellow, brown, or otherwise dead leaves that don't fall or snap off with ease. Leaves with dry tips and brown edges, from not enough water or too much sun, still have plenty of life left, so just trim away the ugly bits. Tidy up the soil top, tossing any dead leaves or other debris which can attract pests and mold.
Give plants a quick rinse
The easiest way to get your plants wet is to stick them in the bathtub and turn on the shower for a few seconds. Alternatively, small, lightweight plants can be turned upside down and dunked in water — grasp the plant at the base and use your fingers to hold the soil in place while you give the leaves a swish. Use a spray bottle filled with lukewarm water on houseplants that are too large or heavy to move
Dust off leaves
Water alone should be enough to wash away dirt and grime from plants with small, delicate foliage, like ferns, but bigger leaves mean more surface area for dust to accumulate. Carefully wipe away the grime from individual leaves with a paper towel or cheesecloth soaked in lukewarm water and a tiny bit of dish soap. Don't forget to do the underside of the leaves as well, and then rinse or wipe away any remaining soap with lukewarm water.
Big, showy leaves look great with a little sheen, but don't bother with commercial plant shine products, which can look fake and plastic-y, and be harmful to your plant's health. Wax and heavy oils are clogging as well. However, love it or hate it, mayonnaise is the secret weapon that many plant aficionados swear by. Simply use a dry paper towel to apply a small amount of mayo to the top of each plant leaf, gently buffing in a circular motion, and marvel at the immediate results. In small doses, the vegetable oil in mayo restores brightness and shine to dull leaves without blocking pores; in fact, it does the opposite! Mayonnaise is extremely effective at breaking down sticky residues that are otherwise hard to remove, so on top of making your plants look good now, a dose of mayo can also make them easier to clean in the future.