How To Clean Fake Plants

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Just like the real version, fake plants can collect dust. Find out how to clean your plastic, silk, and other artificial plants to keep them looking their best.

A fake plastic houseplant sits drying after cleaning

For those who don’t have a green thumb, plastic and silk plants or flowers can soften a room’s look and add a colorful touch. These days, artificial arrangements are so well-made that it’s often difficult to tell them apart from the real thing — unless they’re covered in layers of dust and grime.

It’s a Catch-22 if you’re an allergy sufferer. Many of us ditch live plants for artificial ones to reduce our indoor allergy symptoms. Then we learn the hard way that even artificial plants can trigger allergies, especially if they’re covered with dust. Fortunately, it’s easy to clean these home accents.

How To Clean Artificial Plants

If your artificial plant is relatively new and only lightly dusty, a quick once-over with an electrostatic duster will keep it looking brand new. For more stubborn grime, follow the methods below.

Individual Artificial Flowers

Insert each piece flower-end first into a pillowcase. Add 1 cup of table salt or cornmeal. Holding the pillowcase closed around the stems, gently shake the flowers, so the salt/cornmeal knocks the dust off the plants. Remove the stems one at a time, flicking each gently to dislodge salt.

Plastic or Polyester Plants

The best way to clean plastic plants depends on whether they can be removed from the container. If they cannot, you’ll need to protect the pot this way while you rinse the plant.

Cleaning artificial plants permanently fixed in a container

Fasten a garbage bag around the base of the stems with a rubber band or painter’s tape to keep the pot dry. Wrap this in a towel for added protection. Then, hold the plant’s leaves in your kitchen sink or shower and rinse them with cold water. Gently shake the plant to remove excess moisture, then pat the leaves and stems dry with a fresh towel. Remove the towel you’d wrapped around the pot but leave the garbage bag in place until the arrangement is completely dry, so moisture doesn’t drip into the container and cause mold or mildew.

Cleaning artificial arrangments that can be removed from the container

Take the plant out of the container. Set aside any decorative moss or other “soil” covering. Swish the foliage in a sink filled with cold water and one teaspoon of mild liquid dish detergent. Rinse well under a running faucet or the hose sprayer, using cold water. Then shake the plant lightly to dislodge excess moisture and place it on a clean, dry towel to dry away from heat and direct sunlight.

Silk Plants

Start by dusting the plants well. Next, fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture of cold water and plain isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Wrap a towel around the base of the plant to catch drips and very thoroughly spray the foliage. Grime will slide off, carrying along any dust with it, while the spray will restore the shine. Use a hairdryer on the cool setting to quickly dry the plant.

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Additional Tips to Clean Artificial Plants

• Never use hot or warm water to clean artificial plants. Heat can dissolve the adhesives used to keep them together, and can also cause the colors to fade.

• You can shine artificial plastic plants by wiping the leaves with a microfiber cloth lightly dampened with furniture polish.

• Use an old toothbrush dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove grime in tight spots. Spot test first.

• Vacuum artificial arrangements safely by slipping a nylon sock over your machine’s hose attachment. The nylon allows the vacuum to clean away dust without pulling the decorations apart.

• Dust broad artificial plant leaves with a used dryer sheet. The sheet’s anti-static properties will help keep your fake plant clean and dust-free longer.


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22 Comments

  1. I have cheap faux plants bcuz of illnesses, bcuz of my disabilities l also appreciated the short and simple directions in this post than most of the others were acting as if l was washing a $ 100 plant.TY

    1. Hi Debbie,

      Some rubbing alcohols used to actually rub arthritic joints contain menthol and green dye. If your rubbing alcohol is clear, it’s fine to use on your plants.

    1. No, “fragrance- and dye-free rubbing alcohol” means rubbing alcohol that’s free of both fragrance and dyes. Like the one we discussed in your other comment. 🙂

    1. Generally, the price is the best way to tell: silk will cost more. If you still aren’t sure, treat the fake plant as if it’s silk and don’t use water. The silk methods will still get polyester plants clean.

    2. Take a tiny sample thread and burn it. If it smokes and chars, it is silk. If it resists burning and then melts, it is polyester.

  2. I’ve got a lamp made with foam flowers, obviously the water idea wouldn’t work and all the other ideas for cleaning are for silk flowers, please help because it’s looking quite grotty x

    1. For foam, I’d just vacuum it with a soft brush and maybe use a lightly damp cotton swab to get any grime in the crevices.

  3. I have brand new large polyester palms around my pool.
    What can I spray them with to help reduce fading?

    Alot of people recommend wd-40 but I don’t think it has uUVprotection.

    Can I use Krylon Uv spray for polyester???

    Thanks so much!!

    1. I’m sorry, Theresa, but that’s not something I have any experience with, so I don’t know the answer.

  4. Do you have suggestion for Lambs Ear stems as they collect everything and are more “velvet feel” Thank you

  5. I have small faux lambs ear wreaths I want to clean of dust before storing till next year. Do you suggest the pillowcase and salt remedy?

    1. That is probably the safest route though it will take a while to get off all the salt since they’re fuzzy.

  6. Hello. I have a vine hanging from my ceiling that I cant take down. Its gotten very dusty and I’d like to knw if theres a way to clean it? It’s pretty delicate because I have tried just ‘dusting it off’. Didn’t work very well. Thanks for any help!

    1. I really can’t answer this question. I have no idea what kind of vine it is, how it’s hanging from your ceiling, or what it’s made from. If dusting doesn’t work, I don’t know what else to suggest.

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