How to Clean the Leaves of Your Monstera Plant
Looking for the best way to regularly clean the leaves of your Monstera plants? These popular plants are quite beautiful when they are well-maintained. In this article, gardening expert and indoor plant enthusiast Madison Moulton takes you through a few simple steps for cleaning the leaves of your Monstera plants.
The list of care tasks for Monstera plants can be long. Between watering, repotting, pruning and propagating, there are tons of things to consider. One task indoor gardeners often forget about or prefer to skip, despite its importance, is cleaning the leaves.
Dust can negatively impact Monstera growth in several ways. And on top of that, it doesn’t make the leaves look their best. While they don’t need to be cleaned very often, it is still an essential task you should be adding to your care routine.
Follow these easy steps to keep your Monstera leaves clean and dust-free.
Would you rather digest the proper steps for cleaning the leaves of a Monstera in video format? Check out the video below for the proper steps, or you can continue reading on to learn the best methods for keeping the leaves of your Monstera clean.
The Monstera genus is packed with impressive leafy plants natively found in jungles across Central and South America. Although they are typically found climbing up trees and sprawling along forest floors in these habitats, most know them for their popularity as houseplants.
There are several species within this genus on the houseplant market, but the most famous is undoubtedly Monstera deliciousa. They are also known as Swiss Cheese Plants after the characteristic holes in their leaves that make these plants so special.
The holes in Monstera leaves are technically known as fenestration. It is believed that these holes developed to help leaves increase surface area to seek out more light. But there are a number of other theories too, from improved drainage to increased airflow.
Monsteras are considered easy to care for once you understand their needs. Most are hemi-epiphytic and develop both aerial and soil roots to help them climb trees. While they love moisture and high humidity, they are also prone to root rot if drainage is not high enough.
Although these plants are generally not high maintenance (depending on the species), there are a few essential tasks that keep them in perfect condition. One of those is cleaning the leaves.
Do Monstera Leaves Need Cleaning?
Cleaning the leaves of your Monstera, or any of your other leafy houseplants, may seem like a tedious or unnecessary task. But since conditions indoors differ greatly from those in their native habitats, it is an important step in growth.
Outdoors, Monstera leaves are regularly showered by heavy rains, removing any dirt and debris and keeping the leaves glossy. Indoors, they don’t receive the same treatment. Just as dust collects on our furniture, it settles on the leaves too, causing a host of problems.
Firstly, this layer of dust stops sunlight from reaching the surface of the leaves, impacting photosynthesis. This essential process is how plants survive and grow and needs to be functioning perfectly to keep plants healthy. Just like lack of water (an essential component of photosynthesis) leads to stunted growth, so does dust.
Monstera leaves also have small holes called stomata that are vital for photosynthesis and gas exchange. Think of them as similar to the pores on our skin. They control the exchange of carbon dioxide and water between the surface of the leaves. Layers of dust block these small holes and limit their ability to work effectively.
Besides problems with plant health, dusty leaves also just don’t look good in our homes. Monsteras are beloved for their large green leaves. These completely lose their allure and end up becoming an eyesore when covered in layers of dust.
Just one of these reasons is enough to consider dusting your leaves. But all of them combined make this task a necessity.
How Often Should They Be Cleaned?
Wiping down leaves doesn’t have to be a weekly task in your home. The amount of time spent cleaning leaves will be determined by how dusty your home gets and the season, but it is typically only required every couple of months. With the right upkeep, you will only need to clean the leaves a few times per year.
How To Clean Monstera Leaves
Now that you know why cleaning leaves is essential, let’s find out how to get it right. There are several cleaning methods to try out depending on how dusty the leaves are and what else your plant needs at the time.
The first way to remove dust on the leaves is simply to dust them as you would the furniture in your home. When you’re going around with your dusting brush wiping off furniture, take a second to gently dust the leaves at the same time.
As the leaves can often be sticky, this may not remove all the dust at once. But it will contribute to removing some of the excess build-up until you get around to a dedicated cleaning session. The more you can keep heavy dust layers from settling, the healthier your Monsteras will be.
Always dust gently, especially around new leaves that are beginning to develop. Although the stems of your Monstera should be strong, the thin leaves are quite delicate and can attract disease when damaged.
If regular dusting doesn’t seem to be removing the residue, a more intensive cleaning session will be required. For this, you’ll need a bucket of lukewarm water and a cloth. You can also add a couple of drops of dish soap to the water if the dust layer is very thick to help with removal.
Dip the cloth in the water and carefully wipe down the surface of each individual leaf. Depending on the size of your plant this may take a while, but make sure you cover the whole plant to prevent any growth issues down the line. The sooner you tackle this dust, the easier it will be to remove.
Make sure you wring out the cloth before wiping the leaves. You don’t want masses of soapy water hanging around the leaves and in the soil as this can also negatively impact growth. Keep them in a bright and airy spot to dry off as quickly as possible.
Give Them a Shower
For thinner layers of dust that don’t require individual cleaning but also are too stubborn for basic dusting, simply move your Monstera to the bathroom for a quick shower. Using room temperature water, spray the leaves from overhead to get rid of any lightly dusty areas.
Again, it’s important to reach all parts of the plant. Detachable shower heads are best for this process to get between the stems and leaves lower down. However, overhead showers used for slightly longer are just as good, replicating the rain they would receive in their native habitats.
Make sure the water stream is not too cold or too hot. Extremely cold water can shock the plant and takes longer to evaporate, potentially encouraging problems with fungal diseases. Hot water also damages the leaves and can cause brown burn spots that won’t recover.
Use a Compressed Air Spray
For a more extreme version of dusting, you can try using a compressed air can. These handy tools are great for cleaning hard-to-reach areas, blasting any dust layers off of surfaces with a quick spray. They will do the same for your Monstera leaves, cutting the time spent cleaning leaves dramatically.
This does come with a caveat – strong air sprays can damage delicate Monstera leaves. If your Monstera is wilting slightly from lack of water or has a lot of new thin leaves, it’s best to skip this step and use one of the gentler options.
The previous methods are all suitable for larger Monsteras with plenty of leaves. But, if you have a smaller plant in a small pot, there is an easier option – dunking them in water. Simply fill a sink or bucket with room-temperature water and dunk the entire plant to get rid of any dust.
Dunking is ideal for Monsteras that have been slightly underwatered. Over time, soil that is too dry becomes compacted and stops absorbing moisture. Dunking them and leaving them submerged for 15 to 30 minutes completely saturates the soil and prevents any dry patches around the roots that may occur when watering from the top.
This way, you get to tackle two problems at once – as long as your container or sink is large enough for the plant.
Misting is a common practice in indoor gardens, argued to increase humidity and improve growth. I typically don’t advocate for misting as its effects on humidity are minimal and incredibly short-lived. Plus, excessive misting can lead to the development of fungal diseases when done incorrectly.
Although misting isn’t great for humidity, it can be helpful in cleaning leaves. A gentle misting around once per week can wash away any light dust that may have settled. And, as long as your Monstera is in a position to dry off quickly, you won’t be risking any issues with disease.
Misting alone likely won’t keep the leaves clean forever. But, like regular dusting, it can make your cleaning sessions much easier to complete.
Watering advice for all plants, but particularly those indoors, is to focus the water on the soil. This stops water from getting trapped between the leaves and leading to rot. While this advice is sound, an overhead watering every couple of weeks won’t damage your plant and can help keep the leaves clean.
Simply move your Monstera to a sink or outdoors and water from overhead, covering all parts of the plant. This will remove any dust and keep the plant hydrated at the same time. You won’t need to do this every time you water – stick to every three or four times at most.
Keeping a Monstera happy can be tough enough when you think about watering, feeding, soil and repotting. That’s why cleaning the leaves is probably the last task on everyone’s minds. But, with these easy steps, you can integrate cleaning the leaves into your care routine without hassle.