How to Rid House Plants of Scale


Scale are tiny insects that feed on the juices of house plants. They are usually reddish-brown in color, although young scale can appear pink, and like to hang out on the backs of leaves and along the stem. As they feast on your plant, they excrete honeydew, which makes the leaves of the plant feel sticky. Sometimes the stickiness extends to the table or windowsill on which the plant is sitting. If you notice that your house plants have sticky leaves, take steps to rid them of scale.

Step 1

Move the affected plant or plants away from healthy plants. You do not want the insects to escape while you are treating the plant and infest nearby plants.

Step 2

Prune away any areas of the plant that are severely infested with the scale insects.

Step 3

Slip on some gardening or rubber gloves to protect your hands and dip an old toothbrush in a bowl of soapy water. Use the soapy toothbrush to wipe the scale off the leaves and stem. Rinse the toothbrush in the soapy water between swipes.

Step 4

Combine 2 tsp. of a mild liquid soap with 1 gallon of warm water.

Step 5

Pour the soapy water into a spray bottle and thoroughly spray the plant with the mixture. The soap will cause the water to cling to the bodies of any scale that are still hiding on the plant and suffocate them.

Step 6

Repeat the spray treatment once a week for a month, or until you no longer see an visible scale on the house plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Toothbrush
  • Mild liquid soap
  • Bowl
  • Spray bottle


  • Guide to Houseplants: Scale Insects

Who Can Help

  • Plant Care: House Plant With Sticky Leaves
Keywords: house plants, scale insects, scale infestation

About this Author

April Sanders has been a writer and educator for 11 years. She is a published curriculum writer and has provided academic content for several subscription databases. Sanders holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in social psychology and a Master's degree in information sciences and technology.