Cleaning African Violet Plants, Why & How To?

Why clean your African Violet plants?

  • As with other houseplants, African Violet plants can collect dust.
  • This layer of dust sitting on the African Violet leaves can block sunlight/light reaching the leaves.
  • Sometimes, the leaves develop dried water stains, which need to be cleaned.
  • Cleaning can also keep your African Violet plant looking healthy, for aesthetic reasons.
  • If you spray your African Violet plant with neem oil or if you foliar feed your African Violets with fertilizer spray, over time they build up a layer over leaves. (More details at, Foliar Feeding African Violet Plants).
  • This layer of oil / fertilizer will block the leaf pores which are essential for air exchange.
  • It is advisable to clean off this build up from time to time.
  • If you recently had a pest infestation on your African Violet plants, there may be waxy residue left over from the pests on the leaves. Another reason to clean this off too.

Which tool should I use to brush off / clean dust / soil from African Violet leaves?

  • Different tools can be used to brush off / wipe dust / soil from African Violet leaves. This depends upon the size of your African Violet leaves and availability of your tool.
  • If possible its best to have a designated tool which is only meant for cleaning African Violet plants, instead of using anything lying around the house.
  • Its ok if at first you dont have a designated tool, just make sure to clean the tool first prior to cleaning your African Violet plants.
  • Tools that can be used include:
    • A small damp cloth similar to the ones used to clean eyeglasses.
    • A makeup brush with a cover for storage. Can obtain one with two different size brushes at each end. This way you use the larger end for cleaning larger leaves and the smaller end for cleaning the crown and smaller leaves.
    • A soft, natural bristle paintbrush.
    • A kids soft toothbrush, use very gently at first.
    • A velvet piece of fabric.
    • A damp sponge, similar to a natural sea sponge or a regular one is fine too.

Below are recommendations of useful items used to clean / groom African Violet plants:

How to brush off / clean dust / soil from African Violet plants?

  • Depending upon whether you are cleaning dust / grime or soil from African Violet leaves, use a damp or dry tool of your choice.
  • If cleaning dust / grime from your African Violet leaves, make sure to use a damp tool (wet with water and squeeze out excess). Use room temperature or tepid water.
  • Support the leaf with your fingers if possible and wipe away the dust using your tool.
  • Do this gently, try not to break off a leaf or be too rough on the leaves.
  • Have patience and slowly wipe away the dust from each and every single leaf using your damp tool. This can be a very mindful activity.
  • For a quick clean, can also use a dry tool to brush off dust from your African Violet plant, but a damp tool would be more effective.
  • If you are trying to get rid of loose soil sticking to your African Violet leaves, then use a dry tool to gently brush off the soil.

Below are recommendations of useful items used to clean / groom African Violet plants:

How to wash your African Violet plant?

  • There are different methods to wash your African Violet plant. I recommend only washing mature, adult and fully grown African Violet plants. Do not wash baby or starter plants.
  • Method 1:
    • Bring the tap water to room temperature or tepid (not warm or hot).
    • Lower the water pressure to a slow stream / trickle.
    • Bring your African Violet plant at an angle under the stream of water and as you rotate the plant, gently let the water trickle over the leaves.
    • Try to avoid hitting direct stream of water onto the crown.
    • Using your fingers, gently rub the crown and leaves and clean them.
    • Also use your fingers to clean the African Violet leaves by rubbing the top and bottom of the leaves.
    • Do not leave the plant under the stream of water for a long time.
  • Method 2:
    • Turn on the kitchen sink sprinkler, bring the water to room temperature or tepid.
    • Lower the faucet handle to a low pressure spray.
    • Bring the African Violet plant to the sink at an angle under the sprinkler and clean the leaves by rotating the plant and using your fingers.
    • Do not leave the plant under the water sprinkler for a long time.

Examples of 2″ & 3″plastic pots, great to keep a few extra in your growing tools:

  • Method 3:
    • Wrap the base of the pot, soil and base of the plant in plastic wrap.
    • Gently turn the pot over to make sure its sealed properly and no soil is falling out.
    • Fill a large bowl with room temperature or tepid water and dunk your African Violet plant into the water.
    • Make sure to dunk only the leaves in the water and keep the plastic wrapped part out of the water.
    • Gently swirl the leaves in the water for 10-15 seconds and immediately remove from the water.
    • Do not dunk in water for a long time.
  • Method 4:
    • Fill a spray bottle with room temperature or tepid water.
    • Spray the African Violet leaves with water and clean the leaves using your fingers rubbing the top and bottom part of the leaves.
    • You can also use the spray bottle method to clean the African Violet leaves with liquid soap.
    • Fill the bottle with a mild solution of liquid soap and water.
    • Spray a fine mist of soapy solution on the African Violet plant leaves (avoid the center crown).
    • Let sit on the African Violet leaves for 1-2 minutes and then use above method 1 or method 2 to rinse off the soapy residue on the plant.

Below are recommendations of useful items used to clean African Violet plants

  • While using any of the above methods to clean your African Violet plant, you can also use this opportunity to clean your pot.
  • Gently clean off any grime / dirt off of your outer pot surface.
  • Run your fingers along the rim of the pot and clean off any grim build up.
  • There might also be crusty fertilizer salt build up on the rim of your pot, which you can also clean off using your fingers.
  • Also slide your hand underneath the base of the pot and remove any loose soil, grime or dirt build up.

How to dry your African Violet plant?

  • Once you have washed your African Violet plant using any of the above methods or cleaned your plant using the tools, you have to dry your African Violet plant.
  • First blot up any excess water droplets from the leaves using strips of paper towels or a sponge or a lint free cloth. The excess water should be absorbed.
  • Make sure to blot up all the excess water from the center of the crown too. No water drops should be sitting on the crown.
  • Also do the blotting step gently.
  • After washing, the leaves will be soft and more susceptible to breakage.
  • While blotting the water, you can place your hand underneath the leaves for support, so that they do not snap off.
  • When your African Violet plant is wet keep it away from sunlight and out from under artificial light. The wet / damp leaves may turn brown or develop spots if exposed to bright light.
  • After blotting water from the leaves, keep the African Violet plant in a shaded or dark place and allow to completely dry for a few hours or overnight.
  • If allowing it to dry overnight make sure its not too cold at night, otherwise the damp leaves may turn brown or develop spots due to the sudden drop in temperature.
  • Once your African Violet plant is completely dry, you can return it to its original location.

How often to clean African Violet plants?

  • Adult mature African Violet plants can be washed once a year.
  • Dust / soil can be cleaned / brushed off as needed.

Examples of self watering pots for African Violet plants as shown below:

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15 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for your information on cleaning baby Violet leaves I had the worst Dusty summer and mine which I finally learned how to grow are so dusty the bottom ones mainly. So thank you so much I’ve been wondering how I was going to clean them

    1. Hello Laurie,

      Thank you for your kind words. Happy to hear the article was useful!

  2. Thank you for your suggestion. I would like to know what will happen when I let the water contact with the flower of the violet?

    1. Hello,
      thank you for your question. If water falls on the flowers, they will develop brown spots and will become limp. Hope this helps. regards, BV

  3. Thank you! Glad I scrolled to the bottom and read to only clean once a year. We had a friend bring her nice shiny violets over and I noticed how drab my 4 year old violet was compared! A gentle washing and looking much more sharp.

  4. Wendy I have a small paint brush with very fine hair and I oftenuse it to take dust of my plants

  5. I have always heard not to let any water touch the African violet leaves. Your method won’t hurt them???

    1. Hello Carol,
      Sometimes a little bit of water is ok. As long as its in a light spray format and not water poured all over the plant.

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