How to clean fiddle leaf fig leaves – these foolproof solutions will keep plants lush and leafy
These tried-and-tested cleaning methods for fiddle leaf fig leaves aren't just easy, they're super effective, too
Cleaning your fiddle leaf fig's leaves needs to be a regular task for any plant parent, as the size and shape of those spectacular leaves means they can easily become a dust trap.
These showstopper plants are a desirable addition to your interior, but they need bright light and carbon dioxide to thrive. Being veiled in dust means they won’t get enough of either, and in the worse case scenario will eventually stop growing altogether and die.
From experience with my own plants, I've found that cleaning the leaves of your fiddle leaf fig once a month allows it to soak up more light and breath more easily, keeping it healthy, happy and looking its best.
Sarah Wilson has been writing about gardens since 2015, covering everything from garden design to houseplant care. She has studied introductory garden and landscape design as well as a course in floristry. A proud houseplant parent, she enjoys tending to her collection of more than 50 indoor plants, and her three fiddle leaf figs are some of her favorites.
3 easy options for cleaning fiddle leaf fig leaves
Spring is the perfect time to nail cleaning fiddle leaf fig leaves as part of your indoor plant care routine, but you should also look to make it a more regular task to ensure they remain dust-free all year.
The size of your fiddle leaf fig, and whether or not it's easy (by that I mean not too big and difficult) to take outdoors, will determine the best way of cleaning its leaves.
These are my favorite three options for cleaning fiddle leaf fig leaves without harming your plant.
1. Mist them and clean with a soft cloth
If your fiddle leaf fig is large and difficult to move the best idea is to clean its leaves in situ. You can get perfectly good results with this simple water and cloth approach, and it's the method I tend to favor as a couple of my fiddles are too big to move, including one that's a six footer.
Raid your cleaning supplies for a soft clean cloth (or buy an inexpensive microfiber cloth from Amazon), top up your plant mister with water and get to work.
Spray each leaf, being sure to cradle it in your other hand, then gently wipe with the cloth. Depending on how dusty they are, you may need to clean each leaf two or three times.
You may prefer to use distilled water in your mister if you live in a hard water area. Also, try to get into the habit of checking for bugs and common houseplant pests while you’re cleaning your fiddle leaf fig as it's much easier to get rid of them early on rather than letting an infestation take hold.
Once your leaves are clean, it might be tempting to spritz on a leaf shine product at this point, but the jury's out on this. 'There's no need to use leaf-shining products,' says Vladan Nikolic of mrhouseplant.com. 'Some commercially sold leaf-shining products actually have the potential to clog stomata and harm your plant.'
2. Give your fiddle leaf fig a refreshing shower
If you have a small or medium-sized plant, giving it a shower from the mixer tap in the sink, spray attachment in the tub, or even in the shower itself, is the easiest way to remove dust from your fiddle leaf fig leaves. Always use lukewarm water.
You can also put the plug in your sink or tub and let your plant sit in the water a while so the roots have a good drink too. Make sure your fiddle is completely drained and excess water from the leaves gone before returning it to its usual spot.
Although fiddle leaf figs are some of the easiest indoor plants, don't forget that they are also tropical plants so love the humidity of a bathroom. This is where I keep a couple of mine, which makes it even easier to give them a good clean in the shower on a regular basis.
3. Move outside to the yard and use the hose
This is a great way to clean fiddle leaf fig leaves as long as you can easily move your plant outside, but is best done on warm days in spring or summer. Fiddle plants love vacationing outside during summer and the leaves are pretty robust so they will hold up well in rain showers too.
Use a hose on a gentle setting to spray the whole plant, starting at the top and working your way down to the bottom. Leave it outside for an hour or two to dry off, but move it to a sheltered spot out of strong sunlight as you don't want the your fiddle leaf fig leaves turning brown or crisping up.
Once dry return it to its regular place. If you live in a cooler climate, just make sure you don't forget and leave it out overnight as this plant hails from the rainforest and won't appreciate the dip in nighttime temperatures.
How do I make fiddle leaf fig leaves shiny?
I've already mentioned leaf shine products, but that's not the only thing you need to be concerned about when it comes to cleaning fiddle leaf fig leaves. 'There are also a lot of other things that people think about putting on their fiddle leaf fig leaves that are a bad idea and can cause a lot of problems,’ says Claire Akin of the Fiddle Leaf Fig Resource Center. So when trying to make indoor plant leaves shiny be careful what you use on your fiddle.
You might be tempted to try milk or even mayonnaise to gloss up your leaves. 'The problem with this is that the leaves contain tiny pores that take in oxygen and control moisture so if you put things like these on the leaves it can potentially clog them and inhibit your plant’s ability to take in and release moisture when it needs to,' explains Claire.
It can also attract insects such as aphids and spider mites, and cause an infestation, as well as a build-up of bacteria. Much better to simply wipe dust off with a damp cloth.
Giving your plant a nutritional boost also helps the leaves become shinier in the longterm. 'Add a slow-release fertilizer or an organic one to the potting medium,' says horticultural expert Melvin Cubian of plant care specialists Plantin. 'Fertilizers contain nitrogen that helps your plant become greener and appear healthier.'
Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about gardens since 2015. As well as homesandgardens.com she's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc.com, Easy Gardens and Modern Gardens magazines. Her first job on glossy magazines was at Elle, during which time a visit to the legendary La Colombe d'Or in St-Paul-de-Vence led to an interest in all things gardening. Later as lifestyle editor at Country Homes & Interiors magazine the real pull was the run of captivating country gardens that were featured.
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