Cleaning the leaves of your Monstera (and other houseplants) doesn’t just have aesthetic benefits but it aids photosynthesis and promotes a healthier plant. As they have such large flat leaves, they can get dusty pretty quickly so it’s something you need to stay on top of with Monstera plants.
However, cleaning them in the wrong way or using the wrong products can actually be damaging to the leaves so you must be cleaning them in the right way. But don’t fret, we are here to guide you through the entire process, leaving you with a clean and healthy Monstera.
Why is it important to clean your Monstera’s leaves?
There are 3 main reasons why you should be regularly cleaning your Monsteras leaves.
Firstly, if a layer of dust has formed on top of the leaf, then it will be blocking some potential sunlight from reaching the plant. You might not think that it’s a lot, but by reducing the light, your Monstera won’t be able to photosynthesise as effectively. This can result in stunted and slower growth as the problem progresses.
The second reason that a thin layer of dust can be harmful to your Monstera is that it can block the pores of the leaves. You won’t be able to see them with the naked eye, but the leaves on your Monstera have stoma which are small holes in the leaf, essentially like pores. These stoma have the important job of water and vapour exchange. If the stoma become blocked by dust, this can also slow down growth and lead to dry leaves.
The third reason why it’s important to clean the leaves on your Monstera is more for aesthetic reasons than health reasons. When Monstera leaves become dusty they can look quite dull and you don’t get any of that natural shine. Wiping the leaves helps them appear more vibrant!
Signs that it’s time to clean the leaves on your houseplant
So now we know why it’s so important to clean the leaves on your Monstera, now we want to tackle when to know that it’s time to do so. Whilst of course it can be a good idea to schedule it in your calendar once a month, there are also some things to look out for specifically that mean it’s time to get the cloth out.
Visible dust on the leaves
If the leaves on your Monstera are looking quite dull or you can see visible dust on the leaves, then it’s time to clean them! One good test is to run your finger along one of the leaves. If the leaf is dusty, you’ll see a difference in the green colour where your finger was and if the issue is pretty bad then you’l likely see a small clump of dust.
If your Monstera has any type of sticky residue on the leaves, then this needs to be removed immediately. Sometimes this can be a sign of pests so inspect your plant thoroughly to check if you can either spot pests on your Monstera or any signs of them (this includes brown or yellow spots, holes in the leaves or white webbing/poweder on the leaves and stem joints).
But it’s not only pests that can result in sticky residue on your plant. If your Monstera is near any plants that may be dropping sap or if it’s just getting dirty from something else entirely such as children or pets that might be playing near your Monstera.
Whilst we hope that you never have to experience a pest infestation on your Monstera, if you do, then cleaning the leaves is vital to reduce the size of the infestation. Whilst there are other things you need to be doing such as treating your Monstera with neem oil or an insecticide, wiping the leaves and showering your plant will help fight the pests too.
How to clean your Monstera’s leaves
There are actually quite a few different ways that you can clean the leaves of your Monstera and each has positives and negatives. We’ll go over each below.
Wipe the leaves over with a soft dry cloth
If the leaves are just dusty but otherwise quite clean, then it should be enough to simply wipe them down with a dry cloth every few weeks. This should remove a lot of the dust and keep the leaves looking fresh.
It’s very important that you use a soft cloth though as anything rough can damage the leaves, either ripping or scratching them.
Wipe the leaves using a damp cloth
If your Monstera’s leaves are extremely dusty or dirty and a dry cloth isn’t doing the job then you want to use a moist one instead. This is also the method we recommend when removing pests and sticky residue.
When using a damp cloth you want to make sure that the water is temperate as any hot or cold water can damage the leaves. If the leaves are still dirty then we recommend adding a drop of two of dish soap and that should do the job.
Use a very soft-bristled brush or feather duster
This method should only be used to remove dust as you won’t have much luck with anything sticky and if you use a feather duster with pests, all you’ll do is fling them around the room where they could potentially land on other plants.
We only tend to use a soft bristled brush with plants that have very small delicate leaves, such as the String of Hearts. It would be a nightmare to wipe down every single one of the leaves and would probably result in a long of damage. This way you can gently wipe down the plant.
The reason we don’t often recommend using a feather duster or brush on a Monstera plant is that the leaves are large enough to use a cloth. This would instead collect all of the dust whereas a brush just pushes it off the plant but keeps it in the air.
Shower your Monstera
Showering is another great way to clean your Monstera but that does require a little bit more effort and isn’t something you want to be doing too regularly. As Monsteras can get pretty big and heavy, don’t risk hurting your back trying to lug it into the bath but if you are able to lift it, a shower every few months is always a great thing.
Not only will it get rid of dust and residue on the leaves, but it can help get rid of pests and lift the humidity for your plant – a real combo of benefits!
When showering your Monstera, make sure to use room temperature water at relatively low pressure so that you don’t damage your plant.
Bathe your Monstera
If you have quite a small Monstera, another option is to bathe the leaves. This reduces the risk of damage from high water pressure in the shower and is a great way to get shiny clean leaves.
Leaf shine and Monstera Plants
One product that gets sold a lot to houseplant parents looking for shiny clean leaves is leaf shine. However, we strongly recommend against using it on your Monstera or any other plant for that matter.
The thing with leaf shine is that it actually often contains a lot of chemicals. Yes, this depends a little bit on the brand as there are better ones out there but many can actually cause more harm to your plant. This is because the leaf shine chemicals will clog the pores on your Monstera’s leaves, stunting growth and preventing your plant from photosynthesising correctly.
Yes, they will make the leaves look extra shiny in the short term, but there are real long-term damages that can be done with these products. Instead using natural cleaning techniques will help your Monstera shine but remain in tip top health!
How to maintain clean Monstera leaves
To make cleaning the leaves easier you need to be doing it more frequently. This will help to avoid a large build-up of dust or residue on the leaves, making cleaning quicker and easier when you do it. There are also other things you should be doing to prevent your Monstera from getting dusty and dirty in the first place and we’ve covered these below.
Get into a dusting routine
We tend to dust our Monstera every few weeks, sometimes more, sometimes less depending on our schedules but also how dusty the leaves are. Ideally, you want to be dusting them before they start to look dull.
Ventilate your home well
You should be opening the windows at least once a day to ventilate any rooms with houseplants (and any rooms without too really!). This increased ventilation will actually help to keep the leaves a little bit more dust free. Plus fresh air has great benefits on humidity and your health too.
Buy an air purifier
If you find that your houseplant’s leaves are always getting really dusty within just a few days or a week after dusting, then it might be worth investing in an air purifier. Alongside benefits for you, they can be great at cleansing the air for your Monstera and other plants too.
Find a better spot for your houseplants
Some rooms are naturally going to be more dusty and dirty than others and you may want to find another space for your Monstera if you’re constantly cleaning it. You want to keep them out of the way of high traffic areas of your home as not only is there an increased risk of the leaves and stems becoming damaged, but it’s more likely to get dirty.
Mist your plant’s leaves
As well as boosting the humidity, misting the leaves can help remove some of the dust that has settled on your Monstera’s leaves. During summer you want to be misting up to a few times a week and slightly less in winter.
You want to decrease how much your misting in winter as cold wet leaves is the ideal place for leaf rot to occur so you want to avoid that!
Another tip for misting your Monstera is to use temperate water as you don’t want to shock or burn your plant by using hot or cold water. If you find that you’re seeing residue on the leaves of your Monstera after misting, then it may be that the water you are using is too hard (contains too much fluoride or other chemicals). Instead, you want to use distilled water or rainwater.
Move plants when you have building works
Building works can be stressful for humans but is the ultimate nightmare for your houseplants if they aren’t moved out of the way. Even after just a small bit of work, there seems to be dust everywhere, forever!
It’s super important that you move your Monstera away from any major works that might be dusty, dirty or messy to prevent your plant from being covered in sand, paint or dirt.
We hope that our ultimate guide to cleaning your Monstera’s leaves has been useful. You’re now equipped with everything you need to know to keep your plant looking shiny and fresh. Cleaning the leaves is often quite an underrated and forgotten part of plant care but can be vital to your plant’s health.
A lot of plant parents also only really give them a once over in spring as part of a wider clean but having dust-free leaves all year round is important. Light levels in winter can drop quite significantly so you need to be maximising how much of that sunlight your Monstera is able to get. Having a thin layer of dust over the leaves can really lower this amount so make sure you’re cleaning the leaves all year round!
To learn more about how to best care for your plant and keep it happy and healthy, check out our Monstera care guide.