How To Clean Dusty Succulent Leaves To Make Them Shine

Succulents are the ideal houseplants. Not only are they easy to tend to (they typically only need to be watered every other week), but there are also so many different colorful succulents that will thrive indoors. However, some of those succulents can look rather dusty after some time. While the solution might seem to be a trusty spray bottle, succulent expert Lush Gardener on YouTube recommends two specific techniques that will clean your succulents without causing any damage to their beautiful leaves using either a soft makeup brush or a small dust blower.

It's just dusting, does it matter that much? Yes, the method you use to dust is important. Otherwise, you risk damaging your houseplants without realizing it. Common methods people think to use include dusting with a toothbrush or a small paintbrush, yet those bristles are actually too harsh for your succulent and could damage the leaves. 

Wiping with moist pieces of tissue might also seem like a solution, but this can also wipe the farina off the succulent. Farina is the white powdery wax coating on your succulent's leaves and stems that protects your plant from elements like too much sun or rain. This is why using a makeup brush with very soft, pliable bristles and a mini dust blower are the ideal methods for cleaning.

The proper technique for dusting off your succulents

Because farina works as a natural sunscreen and helps prevent your plant from getting root rot, it's important to proceed with extra caution when cleaning your plant. To dust your succulent without completely dusting off the farina, pinch the tip of the makeup brush handle and simply dip the bristles so they very lightly dust the tops of the succulent's leaves. If this technique makes you nervous, another one that works well is to use a handheld dust blower. Simply blow the dust off the leaves, and you don't have to worry about touching the farina at all. There are some tools online that have two-in-one capabilities, a mini dust blower with a soft brush at the end. This one from Walmart is priced around $6.

What about succulents that don't have farina? Because you don't have to worry so much about these succulents, you can be a bit more aggressive with your brush strokes as you clean off your dusty houseplant — both outside of the plant and on top of the leaves. Keep in mind you'll still want to be gentle enough not to disturb the plant, but you don't have to be as gentle as a succulent with farina.

Removing dust from your succulent is important for its growth

Yes, cleaning succulents is delicate work, which can seem tedious for a plant that requires very little attention. However, keeping it dust-free benefits more than just its appearance. The succulent is known as a low-maintenance plant that you don't have to fertilize, as it gets its food through photosynthesis. The plant converts sunlight into food, which keeps it alive and thriving. Succulents are a part of the cacti family of plants and utilize CAM photosynthesis, where the stomata (plant pores) only open at night to keep the plant cool so there isn't as much moisture lost when they're under the scorching heat.

This is where having dust on your succulent can make things tricky. Dust creates shade over and blocks the stomata, increasing the leaf's temperature and potentially disrupting the photosynthesis process. By regularly dusting the leaves, you are giving your houseplant the best chance to thrive. Thankfully, cleaning your houseplants doesn't have to be a daily chore; the only time you'll need to clean your succulents is if they accumulate visible dust that needs to be taken care of.