How to Clean Outdoor Plants


Plants add color and contrast to your yard or patio creating a comfortable atmosphere and a relaxing nook for reading or simply soaking in the sun. Keeping outdoor plants clean not only improves the appearance of your yard, it helps to keep plants healthy. The techniques used to clean plants depend on the type of plants and the gardening space they occupy.

Step 1

Remove dead leaves by clipping close to the base of the stem. Although it is perfectly natural for outdoor plants to have some discolored or dead leaves, an abundance of dead leaves indicates problems. Inspect for signs of insects or disease and treat promptly with the appropriate products.

Step 2

Deadhead spent flowers on flowering plants as soon as they begin to fade to keep your plants looking fresh and to promote further blooming. Dispose of plant debris away from the garden to prevent the spread of disease.

Step 3

Wash foliage on container plants that are small enough to handle by running the leaves under tepid water from the faucet or in a washbasin with a few drops of dish detergent. Swish the leaves in the soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Not only does this clean the leaves, it kills insects too.

Step 4

Spray down larger foliage plants or garden vegetables with the mist attachment on your hose. Take care to spray evenly getting all sides of the leaves and stem to remove dirt and debris that may splash on the foliage during summer storms.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not wash plants in the late evening. They need time to dry before nightfall, as moist conditions invite disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden clippers
  • Washbasin
  • Dish detergent
  • Mist attachment and hose


  • Extension Infonet: Removing Spent Flowers/Deadheading
  • University of Illinois Extension: After Planting Care

Who Can Help

  • Iowa State University: Growing Annuals
Keywords: deadhead blooms, wash foliage, clean plants

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.