How To Make Indoor Plants Leaves Shine? (Without Chemicals!)

Anyone who has indoor plants has, at times, wondered how to increase or bring back the shine of their leaves.

If you’re struggling with plants that look dusty and dull, you might be wondering how can I make my indoor plant leaves shine?

A plant’s leaves are usually naturally shiny, and if they’re looking dull, it’s often down to dust! The safest way to make indoor plants leaves shine is to get them clean using a mild soap and water mix and keep your plant as healthy as possible. You can also add a tiny drop of mineral oil to the leaves if you want to make them extra glossy.

There are many popular leaf shinning tricks out there but most can damage or even kill your plants!

Luckily, we’ve compiled everything you need to know to make your plant’s leaves glossy and gleaming once more:

Why Are My Plant Leaves Not Shiny?

Dust is the most common reason for dull leaves, and you might be surprised by how fast a plant can get dusty.

Outside, of course, a plant gets constantly washed by rainwater and blown by the wind, so dust can rarely settle on the leaves, and will be washed away if it does.

Inside, however, neither rain nor wind will touch the plant; you water it from the base, and there are few air currents.

Even if you do water the leaves from time to time, this will rarely reflect the effectiveness of a good rainstorm pounding down on them – and so dust will still cling to the leaves.

You may also notice that the leaves aren’t shiny because they’ve got a little sticky or greasy, and this will encourage dust to cling even more.

It’s important to take the time to clean your plant’s leaves, and not just because they will look more aesthetically pleasing.

Leaves that are dirty cannot photosynthesize as effectively, and the plant will not be able to make as much use of the sunlight it gets to create energy.

Dusty plants also can’t release moisture from their leaves so easily.

Remember to be very gentle when cleaning plant leaves though, as I detailed in this article plants don’t really enjoy being touched.

Clean leaves equal a happier plant!

Is Leaf Shine Bad For Plants?

You might be wondering if commercial leaf shines are bad for your plant and what they contain.

The problem with commercial leaf shine is that many products do not reveal their ingredients because this is a trade secret – so it can be hard to know what you’re putting on your plant. It’s possible for the ingredients to clog up the pores of your plant’s leaves and make the problem worse, not better!

Even products such as Miracle Gro Leaf Shine could potentially be harmful to your plant, regardless of what the adverts say. 

The bottom line is that you don’t need to use commercial products.

Even if they work, they are unnecessary, because you can effectively remove dirt and dust at home.

However, that doesn’t mean that all home remedies are safe for your plants either.

There are lots of “tricks” for getting your plant leaves shiny, and some of these could also be harmful. For example, tricks that recommend adding mayonnaise to the leaves and then buffing them are not necessarily a good idea.

Remember, a plant breathes and expels moisture through its leaves, and it can’t do that if its pores get clogged up with gunk.

Oily products may make the leaves gleam, but they aren’t going to be great for the plant’s health, and they might actually exacerbate the problem in the long term because grease collects dust.

Other methods recommend using vinegar.

Vinegar is good for cutting through grease, so it’s easy to see how this would work in theory, but the acid can burn your plant’s leaves, especially if they are delicate.

Vinegar is not a very plant-friendly liquid, and when you remember that it can be used as a weed killer, you might be less inclined to wipe it on your plant’s leaves.

You can find which plants enjoy vinegar in my detailed article here.

Remember, natural isn’t always good.

Leaf shine products are generally unnecessary; proper care, clean leaves, and a healthy plant should be all that you need to make the leaves glow with health, rather than with artificial shine.

How Do You Shine Plant Leaves? 5 Easy Steps

So, let’s look at how to shine plant leaves properly, without damaging your plant:

Step 1: Clean your plant

Start by giving your plant a spray with a hose if possible, or running it under a tap. Use cool but not icy water.

Make sure that you don’t blast the foliage; you could damage it.

Gently wet and rinse the leaves off, using your hands to shake them back and forth under the flow of water. This should help to remove loose debris.

Step 2: Wipe the leaves

You can use a damp cloth and water to wipe down the leaves and remove any stubborn dust or greasy buildup. It’s easy to do this with large plant leaves, but with a smaller plant, you might need to use a paintbrush or duster to free the leaves from dust. 

Work slowly to avoid damage.

For plants with very delicate or frilly leaves that are difficult to clean, just rinse them for longer, and try to do it more regularly. 

This should help prevent any significant buildup that will be hard to remove.

Step 3: Use some soap

If you’re dealing with greasy plants or a lot of dirt, you can use a mild soap and water concoction once you have rinsed the leaves. 

This has the added advantage of dealing with pests, which will be killed by the soap.

Simply mix some soap into the cool water and wipe the leaves again with this, paying attention to any sticky spots. Wash off any extra soap afterward.

If your plant has got spots of lime on its leaves, the soap may not be able to tackle them, so you can use a tiny bit of diluted vinegar or lemon juice. 

This should help dissolve the lime and make the leaf beautiful – but dilute heavily to avoid harming the leaf tissues.

Step 4: Gently dry the leaves

If you have a large plant that doesn’t like water on its leaves, you may want to pat the foliage dry with a soft cloth. 

Alternatively, stand your plant in a bright spot (but not in direct sun, which may burn the leaves) and allow a draft to wash over it if possible. 

This will help the leaves dry out.

The plant should now be beautifully shiny, without the need for any products beyond a bit of soap. 

Step 5 (optional): Buff the leaves with a tiny drop of mineral oil

This last step is if you really want to increase the shine of your plant leaves.

Warning, don’t use any other type of oil or grease as it can attract more dust and even clog up the pores of your plant!

Mineral oil should be safe, but even so, this step should only be done a couple of times a year.

Best Methods To Shine Your Plant’s Leaves

Here are the best and safest methods you can use to shine your indoor plants leaves:

Soap and Water Mix

Soap and water mix is great for cleaning plant leaves and is very safe. Although it will not give you such a lustrous shine as using an oily product, it’s a great first step. You might even be surprised how much better your plant will look after a soap and water cleanup.

Banana Peels

Rubbing banana peels will add a natural oily shine to your plant leaves. Although not as efficient as oily products, banana peels are cheap and easy to use. 

They will need to be applied about once a week to maintain the shine.

Diluted Milk

Milk diluted with water is another good natural way to help indoor plant leaves shine. 

Dilute the milk with about 60% water, spray it onto the plants, and buff the leaves with a soft cloth. Milk is often used to treat powdery mildew and it contains proteins that will help brighten the leaves. 

Milk is also anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.

Highly Diluted Vinegar Water

Highly diluted vinegar water is safe for use on plants in small quantities and can help to get rid of limescale, making the leaves look shinier. It may also deter pests that could make the plant sick and dull. 

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is one of the only oily products recommended as a way to add shine without blocking the leaf pores. Even so, this should only be done in very small amounts and a few times a year.

Worst Methods To Shine Your Plant’s Leaves (Never Use These!)

You will need clean foliage to keep your plant happy and let it breathe. Any of these methods to shine plant leaves may clog up the leaf pores, attract dust and even bugs:

Baby Wipes

While baby wipes may seem a convenient way of cleaning your plant’s leaves, but they are likely to leave chemical residue that isn’t safe for the plants.  They may contain products that will be absorbed into the leaf and do damage.

Besides not being a good option for cleaning your indoor plant’s leaves, baby wipes are also expensive and not good for the planet in general!

Mayonnaise

Although a popular method, mayonnaise is not a good option for shining plant leaves.  It will make them very shiny, but mayonnaise can clog up leaf pores and will also attract dust and possibly bugs.

Coconut Oil

When shinning your plant leaves, coconut oil is a bad idea for the same reasons mayonnaise is. It has an immediately beautifying effect, but it will attract dust, and anecdotal evidence has suggested it can make plants more vulnerable to sunburn. It also prevents misting from working, as the oil on the leaf surface will repel the humidity.

Olive Oil

Don’t use olive oil to shine plant leaves as it will clog up leaf pores and make it hard for the plant to expel excess water. It should also be avoided as it can cause grease to buildup on the leaves of the plant and attract dust, causing further problems.

Commercial Leaf Shine

Products such as Miracle Gro Leaf Shine may not directly harm your plants, but it is unnecessary and will add chemicals or block up leaf pores. A good clean with soap and water mix is a safer and much cheaper option than any commercial leaf shine.

Final Thoughts

You should now know how to make indoor plant leaves shine beautifully without the need for commercial products – or even many of the natural products.

A well-washed leaf of a healthy plant will have a good glow without any addition, but if you really want to make your plant gleam, consider buffing with a very small amount of mineral oil as other methods can harm your plants.

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