How to make indoor plant leaves shiny, according to green-thumbed experts

It's not only for aesthetics — learning how to make indoor plant leaves shiny affects your leafy friends' health

Indoor plant display in front of a peach-colored wall
(Image credit: Getty Images/Delmaine Donson)

Looks aside, learning how to make indoor plant leaves shiny ensures all foliaged friends not only look fabulous, but thrive too.

Whilst our green companions require light, water, and plant food in active seasons, dusting off leaves is an overlooked task that all parents should enforce. We asked our gardening and plant pros why it's important, the health benefits for your plant, how often to do it and what to avoid.

When caring for houseplants, take the time to do this important step and watch your plants revel in their boosted ability to photosynthesise.

How to make indoor plant leaves shiny

Like other surfaces in the home, Indoor plants can become a bit dusty themselves and whilst it may seem you're only catering to your plant's aesthetics by wiping dust away and making leaves more shiny, failing to do so can compromise its health.

"When there is too much dust or debris build-up on the leaves, it can inhibit photosynthesis," says Paris Lalicata, a community associate and plant education director at The Sill. "It's ideal to get in the habit of cleaning plant leaves so they remain healthy and looking good." 

Wipe down leaves

This depends on how dusty your home is, as well as where your plant is placed, as some high-traffic areas of the home (such as kitchens and hallways) will naturally get more dusty, more often.

Real Homes editor and resident plant-mum Punteha van Terheyden wipes her collection of leafy plants whenever she waters them, which, depending on the type, can vary between 7-14 days in the spring and summer. 

She says, "Wiping them down at this frequency works well for me as it makes it easier to remember to do it as part of the usual care routine, but it would be entirely OK in my home, with its medium dust levels, to go a bit longer to the three-week mark. When I see a week hasn't really brought dust, I leave the plant alone."

Punteha also finds in the summer, with a lot of traipsing inside and out, and windows open for long periods, dust accumulates a bit faster.

What to use

A gentle wipe with a homemade solution will do the job nicely.

"If you're looking for a simple home remedy, you can dilute 1/2 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar or lemon juice into a quart of warm water and then wipe your leaves down with it," Paris adds. "This will not only help to eliminate dust and debris, but can also get rid of stubborn build-up from mineral deposits and leave your foliage looking shiny."

You can snag Heinz All Natural Distilled White Vinegar from Amazon

"If your plants don't have a strong build-up and just a light coat of dust you can easily wipe them down with microfiber leaf cleaning gloves," Paris adds. "Keep in mind, this will only enhance the natural shine your leaves have already rather than providing extra shine."

When getting your favorite low-maintenance, easy house plants dust-free, horticulturist Lorin Nielsen of Epic Gardening says this is an opportune time to take extra note of how your plant is doing.

She says, "While you are wiping down the leaves, conduct a thorough inspection of your plant and ensure it's pest-free, plus you can monitor for any signs of disease. This also allows you to do any necessary pruning of dead leaves to make the plant more aesthetically pleasing if needed."

In addition to cleaning the leaves regularly and watering your green babies on a schedule suitable to their plant type, it's advised to give your plants a proper showering of water every few weeks.

When gardening in an apartment or home, you need the right accessories, just like when you take the fun outside. Microfibre gloves should be a permanent fixture in your toolkit. 

Adding extra shine

Greenery pros recommend going the natural route, even though there are solutions available to help make plants look extra shiny.

"I don't recommend most of the products marketed as "leaf shine" for indoor plants, as these create a coating over the leaf's surface that prevents transpiration, the ability of the tissues to have access to air and release any excess moisture in their leaves evaporatively," Lorin says. 

While these products might be wiping away dust, Lorin notes that they're also likely to leave behind a residue and says it's best to stick with the water/lemon or water/white vinegar combos. 

Although the water-based combos above can be a preferred method, some plant parents like to spray their plant leaves with oils. If you follow this method, Dominic Hooghuis of the Plant Runner Truck suggests neem oil spray. 

"Wiping down your foliage with a natural neem oil keeps in looking lush and dust-free," he says. "Neem oil will not clog the plants' pores like some other, harsher oils."

Try We the Wild Protect Spray With Neem Oil from Target, which is currently on sale at the time of publication for $11.99.

Meet our experts

smiling headshot of Paris Lalicate from The Sill holding a potted plant
Paris Lalicata

Paris is a community associate and plant education director at The Sill, which was founded on the notion that plants make us happier, healthier humans. The self-taught expert has over 200 plants in her own collection, so she's the perfect go-to for those who need assistance with their plants. 

Lorin Nielsen
Lorin Nielsen

Lorin is the head horticulturist, senior botanical editor, and content strategist at Epic Gardening. Additionally, Lorin is a California naturalist, lifelong gardener, plant lover, self-described composting geek, and avid food gardener who is on a mission to teach the world how to grow. 

Stacy ling
Stacy Ling

Stacy Ling is a gardener with over 25 years of experience. She created the blog, Bricks ’n Blooms, from her 1850 farmhouse located in gardening zone 6a northern New Jersey. She is the author of the forthcoming The Bricks 'n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden

Dominic Hooghuis and Duncan Hilder
Dominic Hooghuis

Dominic Hooghuis and Duncan Hilder co-founded The Plant Runner, which started out as a truck that sold florals and blossomed (pun intended) into a wholesale and retail e-commerce business.

Taking your green thumb activities outdoors? Perfect! We asked gardeners what to plant in May, depending on your gardening zone, and there's plenty to work with this time of the year. 

Danielle Valente
Content Editor

Pleasure to meet you! I'm Danielle, a content editor at Real Homes who loves scoping out interior trends. I've specialized in lifestyle writing and editing for 10 years with a focus on events, food, and books, among other areas. When I'm not working, I'm usually cooking, reading, or searching for a new project for my apartment.