Houseplant leaves often attract a lot of dust when kept near a window or balcony. If you don’t clean the leaves, their pores can get clogged, making it difficult for the plant to produce food.
Vinegar is a useful ingredient for cleaning plant leaves. It is easily available and does wonder to bring back shine on dusty leaves.
So, how do you use it on the leaves? Let’s learn more about it in the following guide.
Is It Safe To Use Vinegar For Cleaning Plant Leaves?
Yes, cleaning plant leaves with vinegar doesn’t adversely affect the plant. It is a tested ingredient for this purpose, so use it as explained in this guide.
Having said that, don’t use it in a concentrated form. Dilute it in water before applying it to the cloth or spraying it on the leaves.
How To Clean Plant Leaves With Vinegar
As mentioned earlier, vinegar needs to be mixed with water in an appropriate proportion to make it more effective on the plant leaves.
So, let’s see how to prepare and use it to clean the leaves.
You will need to collect the following items for this process.
- White vinegar – 1 teaspoon
- Water – 1 gallon
- Spray Bottle or Cloth
There are two ways to use vinegar on your plants, i.e., using a damp cloth or spray bottle. Ideally, the damp cloth gives better results, as you get more grip to wipe the leaf surface. But you can also use a combination of these tools for cleaning.
The cloth you need for this process should be gentle and soft. You don’t want to hurt the leaves while cleaning them with the vinegar solution.
Steps To Prepare Vinegar Solution –
Here’s how to make your vinegar solution –
- Take a gallon of water and add one teaspoon of vinegar.
- Mix the solution thoroughly.
- Transfer the solution to a spraying bottle or pour it on the cloth.
Adding neem oil to this liquid solution recipe is unwarranted, but you can surely use it to make it potent.
Using Vinegar Solution To Clean The Leaves
As you know, there are two ways to do this job. So, let’s look at both methods in this section.
1. Spray Method: In this method, you have to spray the solution directly on the leaves. You must spray it until most dust and other particles come off the leaf surface.
It won’t be very efficacious, though, and you will have to execute the procedure 2-3 times additionally to notice excellent results.
2. Cloth Method: I recommend the damp cloth method for small plants with large leaves. In this method, you can simply wipe the surface of each leaf until you get the desired results. The advantage of using this method is you can clean the leaves in one go without repeating the process in short intervals.
However, if the plant is too big, it won’t serve its purpose. You will probably have to rely on the first method to cover a larger portion of the plant leaves. Once those leaves look relatively clean, you may use a damp cloth to clean the remaining dirt from some of the leaves.
Can I Spray Vinegar Directly On The Plant Leaves?
As I mentioned, you should never spray vinegar directly on the leaves. It can damage the cell membrane of the leaves, which can burn their surface.
Over time, the plant will not be able to produce sufficient food and may not survive for long. Even though kitchen vinegar only contains 5% acetic acid, it can still reduce plant growth if used extensively.
Nevertheless, the USDA Agricultural Research Service has confirmed that vinegar can be used as a weed killer. The researchers have tested it on familiar weeds like common lamb’s-quarters, giant foxtail, velvetleaf, smooth pigweed, and Canada thistle.
Ultimately, they concluded that vinegar with 5-10% concentration is efficacious for killing weeds.
How Often Should You Clean Plant Leaves?
There is no such rule or frequency for cleaning plant leaves.
If you see the dust on the leaves, it’s a sign that they need to be cleaned soon. Ideally, you should put them under the shower in such situations. You don’t have to clean them with vinegar or lemon juice in the beginning. If the dust is sticky and not coming off easily with water, try one of these ingredients.
Regarding the cleaning frequency, you should clean them whenever you observe dusty leaves in your garden. Examine the leaves when you’re watering the plant. The best time for the examination is when the visibility is good around the plants.
You can wait a day or two more to remove the dust from such plants, but don’t wait too long. The dust will form a thick layer on the leaves, making your job more difficult.
Benefits Of Cleaning Plant Leaves With Vinegar
Here’s why you must utilize vinegar for leaf cleaning –
- Vinegar is a known natural cleaning agent with a low probability of damage to the plant.
- It contains acid, suitable for cleaning formidable stains from the leaf’s surface.
- It is a proven weed killer, so it has a dual benefit of using on the plant.
- Vinegar has a strong smell that keeps bugs and ants away from the plant.
- It is cheaper than most plant cleaning products.
- It is available in any grocery store.
Why Is Vinegar Good For Cleaning?
As you know, acetic acid is the main component of vinegar. When applied to the plants, the acid reacts with the elements like tough debris, dust particles, grime, mineral deposits, etc.
These particles build up on the leaves and turn sticky over time. It also becomes difficult to remove them with plain water. Hence, vinegar comes in handy in such situations. Once applied, it makes the stains and particles weaker. Eventually, you can wipe them off using a cloth.
The other good thing about vinegar is it’s colorless and doesn’t leave any residue on the leaves.
How To Clean Plant Leaves Naturally
If vinegar is unavailable, you can use the following natural ingredients.
- Lemon: It contains citric acid, which effectively removes tough stains and particles from surfaces. So, use the lemon-water solution to spray on the plant leaves.
- Water: If you don’t want to try any particular ingredient for cleaning, use water. It is the purest form of ‘solution’ that you can apply on delicate leaf surfaces. However, it may not be as effective as lemon or vinegar, and you may have to repeat the cleaning process a couple of times more to see its effects.
Besides vinegar, these are the two ingredients you can use to get rid of the unwanted dust from the plant leaves.
Moreover, you can also use a duster or paintbrush to serve the purpose. But do not use a blow dryer or vacuum cleaner for this task. You might end up damaging the leaves and stems of your houseplant.
As for other recommended ingredients, soapy water is another must-try solution for solving this problem. However, you will need to prepare a dilute solution here as well. Also, you may have to clean the leaves with water again after the first round of soap-water cleaning.
Here’s a video by Lucia that explains more about the ways to clean plant leaves naturally –
Here are some tips you can use while cleaning plant leaves with vinegar –
- Clean the leaves in the early morning or evening. It will help in preventing sun damage on the leaves.
- Remove the dust using a duster before wiping the leaves with vinegar solution.
- Check the vinegar concentration on the bottle. Don’t use it if the concentration percentage is higher than 5-10%.
- Let the plant dry out naturally after spraying or wiping the leaves.
- Don’t disturb the fresh leaves and branches while performing this task. Gently remove the dust from such parts.
- If you want to repeat this procedure on the same plant, wait for a week. Don’t wipe the leaves again the next day.
- Maintain airflow around the plant. Don’t keep the leaves and stems wet overnight.
- Don’t use vinegar solution on a weaker plant. Its leaves may not tolerate the acid in the solution and might turn yellow and brown.
You can use a microfiber cloth to clean the plant leaves. It’s the most effective way to clean the leaf surface. For bigger plants, you may resort to water spraying.
The Lemon-Water solution can help make the plant leaves shiny. Similarly, you can test mineral oil or commercial products like ‘Leaf Shine’ to obtain the shine on the plant leaves.
But do not clean them using chemical solutions frequently. It will be more dangerous to your houseplants.
Yes, you can clean them with lemon juice. Check out this detailed guide to learn about mixture preparation and application.
Epsom salt is beneficial in bringing the green color to leaves. Incorporate one teaspoon of Epsom salt with one liter of water and spray it on the plants.
Besides that, you should also nourish the plant with adequate sunlight and nitrogen-rich fertilizers. Both these factors are crucial in attaining the perfect green color for your houseplant leaves.
It’s perfectly alright to wipe the dust from your plant leaves every 15 days. Keeping the leaf surface clean helps maintain the flow of food production and the respiration system.