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How To Clean Artificial Plants

Wiping the leaf of a faux plant

Kate Blott |

How Often Should You Clean Artificial Plants?

From a purely aesthetic point of view, keeping faux plants clean will ensure they look their best. Dust is not only unsightly but it’s not healthy to have high levels within the home. Asthma and dust allergies can be aggravated by excessive dust, and it can encourage dust mites.

What Causes Dirt On Faux Plants?

A faux plant in a grey pot

There are a couple of main causes of dirt and marks on artificial plants.

Spiders and Flies

If there are a lot of flies in a home over the summer, they can leave marks when they settle on objects, and this can build up over time. This is unhygienic and should be cleaned regularly to avoid the potential spread of disease. On the flip side of flies, there are spiders and their webs. If you’re a spider lover, you may not wish to disturb webs, or even feel that the presence of spiders can help control flies. Cobwebs will allow dust build-up too; a web is sticky to catch flies and bugs, and this same glue is a perfect trap for dust and dirt.

Trapped Dust And Dirt

With woven, synthetic fabrics, such as those used on leaves and petals, it’s a good idea to clean regularly and thoroughly as the porous areas can become filled with dirt, and it can be difficult to remove. Of course, the frequency at which you have to clean something will depend on the environment it’s in. Keep an eye on your plants, and clean them as frequently as is required.

Different Methods For Cleaning Faux Plants

Various cleaning methods can yield different results, so let’s take a look at these to help you decide what’s best for your plants.

Dusting With Microfiber Cloths Or Dusters

Simple dusting is a good way to keep your plants looking fresh as part of a regular cleaning routine. Microfibre cloths and dusters have become popular in recent years, but they can leave fluffy residues behind if they are not good quality. An old-fashioned feather duster is a great way of swiffing dust away without leaving any particles stuck to the plant’s leaves or petals.

Paintbrush Dusting

Paintbrushes can effectively remove dust and dirt from nooks and crannies that a standard duster cannot reach. The hairs on a paintbrush shouldn’t stick to the plant’s structure in any way, making it a great way to effectively clean away dirt.

Washing Or Rinsing

If the dirt build-up is heavy, then washing or damp cleaning may be the only option. This may be appropriate when the product is made up of solid, plastic parts, rather than porous, woven fabric. The latter could lead to staining and make the plant look worse than before. With real touch leaves and petals, staining is possible too, due to the composition of the plastics involved. Before washing any product, consult the manufacturer’s instructions and if you are in any doubt, don’t!

Cleansing With White Vinegar

White vinegar is a highly effective cleaning solvent. With solid plastics, it could be an effective method of cleaning, however, it could be detrimental to porous products, or the paint used to colour them. Also, due to its strong, lingering odour, it may not be the most appropriate method for everyone.

Compressed Air And Hairdryers

Compressed air (in a can) such as you may use to clean a computer keyboard is a great way to remove dust, especially if it’s in hard-to-reach places. This may be a good option for the porous fabrics that are used for leaves and petals. Use with caution to prevent the high pressure from damaging the product. Keep the nozzle a good distance away so the compressed air doesn’t cause dampness, and subsequently fix the dirt in place.

If you don’t have access to compressed air, try a hairdryer. A hairdryer won’t have the same power as a canister of compressed air, so it may not work as efficiently. Be cautious about heat, and make sure you only use a cold setting.

Do’s And Don'ts For Cleaning Your Plants

Choose your cleaning method wisely. What may work for one product, may well be damaging to another. Assess the plant, and choose an appropriate method.

Harsh Cleaning Chemicals

Avoid using harsh chemicals, such as kitchen or bathroom sprays that may contain chemicals like bleach. Such products can cause the fabrics or plastics to deteriorate and colours to fade, run, or change. If dusting or wiping with a damp cloth isn’t sufficient, check with the manufacturer to see what specialist products are suitable. The manufacturers of widely available cleaning products designed specifically for artificial plants will have information and advice on how to use them most effectively.

Steam Cleaning

Using steam can be a great way to clean and disinfect things, but caution should be used if you are trying this method on artificial flowers. Some plastics aren’t affected by extreme heat, but others will melt or become misshaped. If you don’t know if the material your floral products are made from is heat-safe, then don’t apply steam. At best you could ruin your plant, at worst you could end up seriously burning yourself.

How To Clean Delicate Silk Flowers

It is rare for artificial flowers to be made of real silk these days. The most common material is polyester, with some products made from velvet fabric, polystyrene foam, rubberised plastics, lamé, and flocked plastics. Woven polyester fabric is cheap and easy to mass-produce, unlike silk. The methods outlined above are a great way to clean these synthetic products, but if you are lucky enough to have some antique silk flowers, we recommend asking a specialist for advice as these items are very easily damaged.

F.A.Q.s - Making Faux Plants Look Real

  • Can you rinse fake plants?

If an artificial flower product is made of solid plastic components, there is no harm in rinsing it in cold or even slightly warm water to remove dirt and dust. Where part of the product is porous, such as petals and leaves, rinsing them could drive dirt deeper within, staining it permanently or causing mould. Ensuring the product is fully dry is essential to prevent mould build-up after it has been cleaned.

  • How do you remove dust from silk flowers?

Artificial silk flowers can be dusted in a variety of ways, including dry cloths, feather dusters, paintbrushes, compressed air, and hairdryers.

  • Can you steam-clean artificial plants?

Steam cleaning artificial plants is only advisable on thermo-stable materials. If you can’t verify whether your plants are made from plastics/synthetics that won’t melt, we don’t recommend this method. It’s also important to be very careful with steam cleaning as steam can easily burn skin.

  • How do you keep fake plants dust-free?

Once dust has been removed from a fake plant, the use of specialist sealants and or lacquers can help prevent the build-up of more dust, by creating a slippery surface the dust cannot adhere to so easily. A regular flick-over with a feather duster may be all that’s needed to keep the dust away.

  • How do you dust fake plant walls?

When fake plants are built into a plant wall, dust can accumulate at heights and in places that aren’t so easily reached. Preparing the products before they are installed can help. Sealing with a matt spray or a lacquer can help prevent dust build-up and save tricky dusting later. Investing in a good set of step ladders can help make this safer and easier. A long-handled feather duster is a great tool in this setting. If the plant wall gets particularly dirty, ensure that it is easily removed so cleaning can safely be carried out on the ground.

  • How do you clean fake flowers and leaves?

The flowers and petals of an artificial flower are usually made of woven synthetic fabrics. This can make them susceptible to dust and dirt build-up within the porous parts of the material. Cleaning with liquid or compressed air isn’t advisable with these, as it can drive the dirt further in, causing staining. First, a gentle dusting with a soft paintbrush can remove loose dirt. Specialist artificial flower and plant cleaning products are often the best way to remove the remaining dirt, as they lift the residue up and out of the fabric. It can then be wiped away carefully with a small, soft sponge, or a cotton tip/bud. This process can be repeated until the product is completely clean.

  • Can you wash artificial plants?

Washing, rather like rinsing, is not always the best way to approach cleaning artificial plants. If you believe this is the only way your plant can be thoroughly cleaned, take care not to push dirt deeper into porous parts of the product, don’t use harsh chemicals mixed with the water, and ensure the product has been thoroughly dried after it’s been washed.

  • How do you get the musty smell out of fake plants?

If you detect a musty smell from your artificial plants, it could be that dust and dirt have built up and are causing the odour. Sometimes there are dust mites, sometimes it’s mould (or both) and these can cause a smell. Cleaning the plant thoroughly, and spritzing some diluted disinfectant (like Detol or Zoflora) will remove the dirt, kill any nasty bacteria or mould, and if you use the right one, leave a nice scent.

Love Faux Plants!

Now you know how to style and get the best out of these lovely products, why not join the growing number of people who love faux plants? At Atlas Flowers, we pride ourselves on selecting the best quality artificial plants and flowers products ideal for home or commercial displays. We work with a number of suppliers to bring our customers a wide range of plants, vines and florals, to provide the best possible choice for homes, offices, businesses, or events. If you're still not sure, look at our top reasons to choose artificial flowers to see if we can convince you further! If you don’t see what you’re looking for, please contact us to discuss your requirements, pricing, and bulk purchasing options.

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