How to Polish Indoor Plants


Living inside, plants can get dusty along with the rest of your belongings. They can get filmy, too, accumulating a coating of substances like grease. The situations isn't optimal for plants since it interferes with respiration and cuts the amount of light that can reach leaves for photosynthesis. The dust and film also give plants a dull appearance, which can be changed by cleaning and polishing. Leaves that take on the best shine are those with thick, smooth vegetation.

Step 1

Dampen the cloth or sponge.

Step 2

Wipe both sides of each leaf with the cloth or sponge, supporting the leaf as you clean by placing a hand behind it. Alternately, sandwich each leaf between two cloths to clean.

Step 3

Rub the top side of each leaf gently with the cheesecloth to buff and bring out shine.

Step 4

Clean the leaves one to two times per month, depending on how quickly they get dusty, and polish as needed. One of the cleanings can be a gentle shower with barely warm water.

Step 5

Dust leaves gently between cleanings/polishings with the feather duster.

Step 6

Spray the feather duster's feathers with rubbing alcohol. This will purge the duster of any pests the duster picked up.

Step 7

Use a commercial polisher on the leaves according to directions, if desired, but only in rare instances--say, when hosting a party. Polishing agents block a plant's natural processes, damaging health.

Step 8

Clean plants free of commercial polish as soon as possible.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't use these procedures on plants like African violets, which have fuzzy or hairy leaves. To clean these, use a brush with very soft bristles. Don't polish at all. Don't think that homemade polishes of oil or other natural substances will be safe to regularly use on plants. Plants have pores called stomata that are clogged by polishers.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 or 2 old soft T-shirts or sponges
  • Room temperature water
  • Cheesecloth
  • Feather duster
  • Spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol
  • Commercial polisher (optional)


  • Oregon State University: Extension Service Garden Hints
  • University of Illinois Extension: Caring for Houseplants
Keywords: polishing houseplants, polishing indoor plants, how to polish plants

About this Author

S. Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media who specializes in making the complex clear. A freelancer for over 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover many topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews, learning a lot and talking to many interesting people.