How To Clean Fake Plants

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Knowing how to clean fake plants helps preserve the beauty of these decorative touches.

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 Fake 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 away remaining dust on the plants.
  • Remove the stems one from the pillowcase one at a time, flicking them gently to dislodge any remaining salt.

Plastic or Polyester Plants

Cleaning these arrangements depends on whether they can be removed from the container or not. Use the appropriate method.

Cleaning artificial plants permanently fixed in a container:

  • Fasten a garbage bag around the base of the stems to keep the pot dry.
  • Rinse the foliage under a steady stream of cold water. (Hot water might cause the colors to run.)
  • Gently shake them to remove moisture, then pat the leaves and stems dry with a towel.
  • 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 liquid dish detergent and rinse well. (A kitchen hose sprayer works wonderfully for this.)
  • Shake the plant lightly to dislodge moisture, then place it on a clean, dry towel away from heat and sunlight so it can air-dry.

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 (surgical spirits in the UK).
  • 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.

Additional Tips to Clean Artificial Plants

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.

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.

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  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. Katie Berry says:

      I’m happy to have been of help.

  2. How do you know if rubbing alcohol is dye free? Aren’t they all the same?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      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.

    2. Ok, thanks Katie. That is what I have so I guess I’m good. 🙂

  3. The article says “fragrance”. What specifically are you referring to? A perfume? An oil you put in a diffuser?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      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. 🙂

  4. How can you tell if a fake plant is silk or maybe polyester?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      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. Inkenheimer says:

      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.

  5. Sharon Gittos says:

    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. Katie Berry says:

      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.

  6. I have been using pledge multi surface on my fake trees. I just spray them let dry and it smells good.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Glad to hear you found a solution you’re happy with!

  7. 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. Katie Berry says:

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

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

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Michelle,
      Do you mean real or artificial lamb’s ear plants?

  9. 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. Katie Berry says:

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

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