Martha's Best Tricks for Cleaning All Types of Houseplants

Learn how to carefully remove dust and debris with these timeless tips from our founder.

Before you followed Martha on Instagram, you looked forward to learning from her on the air—and you still can. The Best of the Martha Show takes you right back into our founder's studio to rediscover her most timeless homekeeping tips and Good Things, galore.

When it comes to a houseplant thriving or declining, the littlest things can make a big impact. Martha has always known this: Years ago, on an episode of The Martha Stewart Show, our founder reminded us that the accumulation of dust, pet dander, and spider webs on plant leaves can actually prevent photosynthesis from occurring—insight that absolutely holds up today. "You may remember the last time you watered your house plants," she muses in the clip above, "but do you remember the last time you cleaned them?" If her query leaves you drawing a blank, then it's time to give your plant's leaves some attention.

For plants with hardy, shiny leaves, explains Martha, gently wipe them down with a damp cloth to remove accumulated dirt. On the other hand, plants with woolly leaves, like African violets and streptocarpus, require a gentler method. Martha recommends using a soft-bristled make-up brush to dust each leaf. Avoid using rough-edge brushes, like those used for food basting, as their bristles may be too aggressive and damage your plant's surface, she notes.

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Furthermore, while you're examining the leaves, Martha suggests taking care of any browned areas or broken edges. Simply cut away unsightly areas with scissors. "The plant really doesn't worry about being trimmed like that and it really helps the appearance of your plant," she says, adding that "orchids often need this type of treatment."

The last type of plant Martha shows us how to clean is cacti. Because they have sharp spines, our founder recommends using tweezers to "pull off any debris" and to help secure spent flowers while you cut them at the base with scissors. Dust and dander trapped deeper inside the cactus should be removed with an aerosol duster. "Clean [plants] once a month and they'll thank you for it, of course," concludes Martha. "They'll look healthy, shiny, and glorious."

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