How to Clean Indoor Houseplants and Shine the Leaves!

This is a pretty neat tip we are sharing today, How to Clean Indoor Houseplants and Shine the Leaves! Plus we have some easy plant food tips too!

You can also use this for any outdoor potted plant that is looking dull or has a powdery substance on it.

First I will share with you how to do it, and then I want to share with you WHY this actually works.
I learned this tip while taking horticulture in college and researched the chemistry behind it right away. It is an old gardening/science tip, but it works! I have tried multiple methods, this way is the best ratio.

Dairy Milk
Spray Bottle
Epsom Salt (Regular NOT Scented)

  1. First, mix up a ratio of milk to water. About 40% milk to 60% water. So, for my small little spray bottle I did ½ cup of milk with ¾ cup water.  You can do as little or as much as you need.
  2. Next spray your plants leaves underneath and on top.
  3. Rub gently with a cloth, then wipe off with a clean dry cloth.

You will notice immediately how it shines up and removes any residue the plant has on it. When you look the next day, it almost looks like fake plant with the shine!

For plant food: Believe it or not, milk has some beneficial ingredients that are great for plants. In addition, I also like to make an Epsom salt spray which you can use every few weeks.

In a spray bottle, mix 2 cups of water to 1 tbsp of Epsom salt, lightly spray the plant leaves. Don’t rub off, allow it to soak in.

NOTE: You do NOT have to use the Epsom salt spray, you can just use the milk spray. I don't typically use them on the same days anyways, but it is nice to have an additional plant food option.
Epsom salt is one of the best natural fertilizers for houseplants. Magnesium and sulfate (which is what Epsom salt actually is) are beneficial for indoor plants to get bright, vivid leaves. Since they don’t get much sunlight, it really gives the leaves an extra boost.

Epsom salt spray can be used every 2-3 weeks.

The other fertilizer I use is my slow release plant food from the book. I put that around the base every 3-4 weeks and it makes such a difference!

We also have a liquid plant food (read blog post for link). Many readers use this for indoor plants too with success. I typically prefer this for outdoor plants since it was designed for that.


Why is milk used?
Using milk as a leaf shiner is an old gardening/science tip. I learned about it when I took horticulture, but decided to study it more in depth to see if it was really something useful.

Milk contains anti-microbial, anti-fungal/anti-bacterial properties that treat powdery mildews and other issues that cause plants to have that dull, white look.

Another important substance in milk is the proteins. Proteins help dissolved residue on the leaf to brighten it up.

Calcium is a key nutrient for plants, so milk also helps internally.

Can I substitute other milk?
You must use dairy milk to get the shining benefits. Other milks like almond and cashew do not have active cultures like this, so it doesn’t work. I have tried it!

More questions including: what about odor? what about bugs? Do you have to use these two sprays together? Please click the blog post URL below to read the rest of these important questions and details on all the items we used!icon  
Alexis @ Chemistry Cachet
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 4 questions
  • Aprile Aprile on Aug 17, 2021

    It doesn't smell sour from the milk? If not I will try this for sure.

  • Yai12104289 Yai12104289 on Aug 17, 2021

    How to rid black flies in the dirt

  • Jodie Jodie on Aug 18, 2021

    I was thinking about what you said about milk being an anti fungal, could this be used as an organic way of preventing fungus on outside plants? Of course it would have to be when rain wouldn’t wash it away!

Join the conversation
2 of 14 comments
  • Lisa Judycki Lisa Judycki on Aug 18, 2021

    Unpasteurized milk is safe, as long as you keep your cows clean. Also, if you test the milk daily, this is what responsible farmers do.

  • Carol Carol on Sep 21, 2021

    That is really cool! One I will definitely try. Thank you for sharing.