How To Make Your Own Plant Leaf Shine + Cleaner (Sans Harmful Ingredients)

glossy green and orange houseplant leaves

Have you ever wondered how some people have those shiny houseplants with perfectly lustrous leaves? Well, their trick is leaf shine. It’s a spray that’s applied to the foliage to help a plant look more desirable. Whether applied by the store they bought the plant from or applied by themselves, these shiny leaves aren’t natural. And a typical store-bought leaf polish can actually be detrimental to the health of your plants. Here at Outside In, we recommend making your own leaf shine so that you’re able to control the ingredients and know exactly what you’re exposing your plants to. 

First, It Is Important To Clean Leaves

dirty houseplant leaf

It is useful to occasionally wipe down the leaves of your plants in order to keep them clean, healthy, and functioning properly. As dust, dirt, and dander naturally collect on the surface of indoor plants, the accumulation can block the plant from absorbing light. This further affects photosynthesis and the plant's ability to grow. Utilizing a natural, delicate spray to cleanse the leaves can help swipe away extra tough grime while keeping the plant safe & protected.

As a preventative measure, it’s also helpful to clean houseplant leaves to combat potential pests and diseases before they’re noticeable. Oftentimes once we notice damage, it’s more difficult to eradicate. Nipping issues before they arrive is key. 

Why Manufactured Leaf Polish Isn’t Great

The main function of the majority of store-bought leaf polish is simply to make the plant more aesthetically pleasing and shiny. Even the labels promote “beautifying” the foliage. And sure, wiping a plant’s leaves, in general, will clean the surface. However, these shines and sprays are often made with harsh oils and sometimes chemicals that deposit onto the leaf surface. This can cause buildup, clogging the pores (stomata) and blocking respiration-- thus hindering plant growth. Not only unhealthy, but ultra-shiny leaves can look fake. And who wants a plastic-looking plant when they paid for a real one?

How To Make Your Own Houseplant Polish

diy leaf polish ingredients

Making a do-it-yourself leaf spray at home creates the opportunity to safely clean and amplify your plants. This mixture will wipe away and deter dirt, dust, pests, and hard water spots. In addition, it’ll add a slight sheen to your leaves as the natural beauty of the plant is uncovered. 

DIY PLANT LEAF SHINE & CLEANER RECIPE:

  • 2 cups of water 
  • 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar
  • 2 drops of castile/dish soap (we’re fond of Dr. Bronner’s)
  • 2 drops coconut oil (optional: if you really want that glossy look)

wiping houseplant leaf

After mixing the ingredients together, you can either apply it to the leaves via a spray bottle or simply dip a cloth into the mixture. Either way, make sure to use a soft cloth (like microfiber) to protect the leaves from damage. Another option, to mitigate the risk of potentially spreading pests or disease between plants, is to use a disposable paper towel for each separate plant. (Or thoroughly rinse the cloth with hot water between each use). 

philodendron before leaf shine philodendron after leaf shine

stromanthe before leaf polish stromanthe after leaf polish

While there’s no set timeline for cleaning your plants, we recommend every month or so. Keep in mind that this spray works for certain foliage and should not be used on extra delicate leaves such as fuzzy-textured leaves (like African Violets and Cacti). Overall, keeping your houseplants in the best condition can help with growth, longevity, and survivability. So happy plant cleansing!

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