Silk plants are an attractive office accessory, but only if they are kept clean and dust-free. Silk plant maintenance is simple since they do not need the sun, water and fertilizers real plants require, but cleaning must be done regularly to keep the plants crisp and pretty.
Basic dusting is the most important part of silk plant care. Use either a feather duster or a lamb’s wool duster to brush the loose dust and dirt off of your plant’s stems and leaves on a regular basis. Periodically, use a soft brush attachment with your vacuum to collect heavier deposits of dirt or cobwebs.
Once or twice a year, your plants may require heavier cleaning to maintain their beauty. Before you clean them, you should still remove the dust first so the application of water or cleaner will not turn the layer of dust to mud.
Remember that each silk plant is unique since different types of silk and dyes may be used, and you should test your cleaning solutions on each plant in a hidden area. Always check the care label on your plants since some silks should not ever get wet.
Several manufacturers sell silk plant cleaning sprays, and these generally do a good job when carefully applied to your plant. However, several less expensive cleaning methods work just as well. The first thing to try is plain tap water. Isolate one leaf or petal and run tap water over it gently. Shake it out. If the surface looks glossy and clean, you should be able to use water to clean the whole plant.
Place the plant in a sink, outdoors or on any water-friendly surface. Gently spray water from a faucet or pour water from a large cup, washing each part of the plant without saturating it. Make sure whatever the plant is resting in is water resistant as well. Spanish moss will dry if it is washed along with the plant, but crumpled paper should be removed before you clean the plant. Once you are done washing the plant, shake it gently to remove any excess water and fluff and arrange the leaves. Set it in a sunny spot to dry more quickly. When it is completely dry, it should be as good as new.
If you do not have a place you can pour water over the plant, spray water gently on the leaves and wipe them dry with a soft towel or cloth.
For extremely dirty plants or plants with stains, add either a small amount of dishwashing liquid or white vinegar to your water solution. Spray the plant with this solution, then gently wipe with a soft cloth. Follow up with a spray of clean rinse water. Soap residue will attract dust and dirt quickly, so make sure the plant is well-rinsed. For a stain or problem area, apply the dishwashing or vinegar solution with a soft toothbrush, gently agitating the spot. Stronger cleaners are likely to damage the silk, so simply spend more time with the gentle cleansers on stubborn stains.