You clean dust and dirt off of all the other surfaces in your home. So it is no surprise that your houseplants may need a little TLC from time to time as well. If you have a Pilea Peperomioides, also called a Chinese Money Plant, and you’re noticing some dust and grime build up on the leaves, you’ve come to the right place.
What is the best way to clean Pilea leaves? Depending on the size of your plant, you can either wipe the leaves with a damp cloth, spray the plant off in the sink or shower, or dunk the top half of your plant into a bucket of water and swish it around. With the dust removed, your leaves should look shiny and clean.
Whatever method of cleaning you choose, you’ll need to make sure you’re following the instructions below and using the proper water temperature. Pilea plants are hardy but are sensitive to overwatering, meaning you may need to take extra steps to let your plant dry out quickly.
Why Clean a Pilea Plant?
The large, flat leaves of a Pilea Peperomioides are the perfect surface to collect dust. Some people may find more dust than others depending on the conditions of the area they live in. While dust won’t kill your Pilea, removing it from time to time can encourage your plant to thrive.
Like most plants, Pileas collect both carbon dioxide and sunlight through their leaves during photosynthesis. Then, using the energy from the sunlight, they turn the water they gather through their roots and the carbon dioxide collected from their leaves into nutrients to feed themselves and release oxygen into the air for us. When a thick layer of dust or grime has built up on your plant’s leaves, it cannot complete this process as easily.
In addition to dust, Pileas are known to develop small, white mineral deposits under their leaves from time to time. This is normal and is a result of plants releasing water vapor from the pores beneath their leaves. If your Pilea has these small white spots, cleaning the leaves is a simple way to remove them. If these spots are appearing often, you may be overwatering your Pilea.
Wiping Your Plant Leaves
The most common way to clean Pilea leaves is with a simple wipe down. To do so, use a damp cloth and gently wipe your leaves front and back, being careful to support each leaf and stem with your other hand to avoid bruising or cracking.
Wiping down plant leaves can be more time consuming than other methods of cleaning, but is a good idea for large plants that are more difficult to move.
If your plant is especially grimy, add a drop of dishwashing detergent to the cloth before wiping. Microfiber cloths or cheesecloth work well for cleaning your Pilea leaves, although a common dishrag will do in a pinch. Be sure to ring your cloth out before wiping down your Pilea, as you will only want it to be damp and not soaking wet.
Showering Your Pilea
For larger plants that can be easily moved, a quick shower is often the best way to clean the leaves of a Pilea. This can be done in your sink or shower by using a low pressure sprayer. Simply use the spray to remove the dust and dirt from the leaves, being careful not to break leaves or stems with a high pressure spray.
Once you’ve cleaned the leaves, allow the plant to drip dry. Pileas do not like to sit in soggy soil, so it is important that you allow your plant to dry out before watering again. All Pileas should be planted in a container with a drainage hole to assist in draining soil quickly. If your planter does not have a drainage hole, do not wash your Pilea in this way. Use the wipe down method mentioned above and consider moving your plant to another pot.
Only use lukewarm water when showering your Pilea. Houseplants are sensitive to extreme conditions and very hot or very cold water can shock your plant.
Dunking Your Pilea Plant
A quick and simple way to clean the leaves of your Pilea is by dunking them into a bucket of water. To do this, place your hand over the container to keep the soil in place. Then, flip your Pilea upside down, placing its leaves into a bucket of lukewarm water, and swish the plant around. Be careful to not use excessive force when doing this as Pilea leaves and stems can be delicate.
There are a few tips that can help to keep the soil in place while cleaning your Pilea plant in this way. The first is to water the soil before flipping it. When the soil is wet and your hand is stretched over it, the soil will mostly stay in place. Also, if you’re concerned, you could use cling wrap to wrap the base of the plant while cleaning.
After cleaning your leaves it is important to let your plant dry out. Again, Pileas do not like to be overly wet and it is important that they have the ability to drain water quickly to keep them from sitting in very wet soil for an extended period of time.
Cleaning Your Pilea Container
If your Pilea has been in the same pot for a long time, it is possible that the container itself could use a bit of a washing. It is common for salt or minerals to form a white layer on the rim of your pot. If this is the case, cleaning your pot will be the finishing touch on making your Pilea look its best.
To clean a planter, gently remove the plant and set it to the side or in another pot for safekeeping. Using a diluted bleach solution (one part bleach to ten parts water), clean the pot both inside and out. To get rid of the white layer of minerals use a brush to scrub the area. Rinse the pot thoroughly and allow it to dry out before repotting your plant.
What About the Mayo Trick?
There is a popular hack where people will apply a layer of mayonnaise (alone or in a mixture) to the leaves of a plant and wipe clean to make the leaves extra shiny. I do not recommend this as it can clog the pores of your plants, interfering with their ability to photosynthesize correctly.
Also, stay away from leaf shine products and things that promise to leave your leaves looking brighter. Water, and sometimes a tiny hint of dish soap, is all you need to keep those naturally green and shiny leaves looking their best.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
Water temperature is extremely important when washing Pilea leaves. If your water is too cold it can leave spots on the surface of the leaves. And extreme heat or cold can shock the root system of your Pilea and cause long-lasting damage. When in doubt, think of a houseplant’s natural habitat. Pileas are tropical plants and would ideally grow outside in tropical environments. That means they are not suited for extremely cold or extremely hot rain. Lukewarm or room temperature water is what your plant needs.
Pilea leaves do not need to be cleaned daily. Depending on the conditions of your home and environment, your plant may be more or less dusty than others. The simple answer is to clean your Pilea leaves when you notice dust or dirt building up. Cleaning every few weeks to once every month or two should be all your Pilea needs to keep thriving.