How to Wash a House Plant


Houseplants bring greenery indoors where it can be appreciated year-round. Many houseplants are grown for their large leaves or exotic appearance. In the home, these leaves become targets for dust and grime, especially on plants displayed in kitchens or bathrooms where grease or product residue can settle on them. Dirty leaves to not respire well and they have trouble soaking up the light the plant needs to thrive. Washing the houseplant properly keeps it looking its best and ensures it remains healthy.

Step 1

Dust leaves with a feather duster. Alternately, use a soft-bristled make-up brush on small leaves where a feather duster is too large for the job. Use the feather duster only on smooth-leaved brushes. For hairy-leaved houseplants, dust with a camel's hair brush, dusting in the same direction that the hairs lie on the leaves.

Step 2

Dip a soft cotton cloth in lukewarm water. Wipe leaves clean with the damp cloth. Start wiping where the leaf joins the stem, then wipe to the tip of the leaf. Take care not to pull the leaf off the plant. Use this method only on smooth-leaved houseplants.

Step 3

Fill a water syringe or turkey baster with lukewarm water. Spray the water onto leaves that have grime that doesn't easily wipe off. The sharp spray of water should dislodge the dirt.

Step 4

Wrap the pot in a plastic garbage bag and tie it closed around the stem of the plant. Set the entire plant in the bathtub and turn the shower. Spray the plants with lukewarm water from the shower for five to 10 minutes, washing away most of the dirt. Wipe the leaves a second time with a soft cloth afterward to finish cleaning them. Remove the garbage bags and place the plant back in its normal display place.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid using leaf waxes on plants. These waxes can prevent the plant from respiring and absorbing light in much the same way as dust affects the plants. Always be gentle when dusting hairy-leafed plants. Dislodging these hairs can cause the plant to suffer or die.

Things You'll Need

  • Feather duster
  • Make-up brush
  • Camel's hair brush
  • Turkey baster
  • Garbage bags


  • Purdue Extension Office: Indoor Plant Care
  • Colorado State University Extension: Winter is a Good Time to Groom House Plants
Keywords: washing houseplants, houseplant cleaning care, dusting indoor plants

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.