Whether during dreary winter months or beautiful bloom-filled days of warmth, using plants indoors is an age-old way to invite life and vitality into your home. But don’t stop and smell the peace lilies just yet.

We may not think about it, but dust, grease, oil and other airborne particles like to nest on the leaves and buds of our indoor plants, causing them to appear dull and unattractive. Beyond looking neglected and a bit sad, dusty plants cannot exhale oxygen and inhale carbon dioxide, making their effort to purify the air far more difficult. The grime literally suffocates the greenery, so it struggles to breathe.

Our lives are hectic. Remembering to water house plants is one thing — finding time to clean them is another matter entirely. Like many aspects of home life, however, maintenance is the key. A periodic cleaning of indoor greenery can not only improve plants’ appearance, but can help stimulate growth and get rid of unwanted insects.

On a nice day, gather your plants and place them outside. Use a spray bottle to mimic the effects of wind and rain by misting away the dust and allergens. Garden hoses also work but the water could be too cold for many plants. One great summer option is pulling the hose into the yard and letting the sun’s heat warm the water inside of it. The plants will get a nice, warm wash and won’t be shocked by cold water.

If you would rather keep the plants inside, set them in the shower and adjust the temperature to lukewarm. This way the plants not only get cleaned but soak up some steam for a little rejuvenation.

Some plants don’t like getting too wet. For example, cacti and other succulents may suffer discoloration from too heavy a dousing. With these specimens, gently use an old T-shirt to wipe off the plant leaves and base without causing spotting.

Plants can’t talk and tell you how happy and refreshed they are but the effort will help them do what they do best — and help keep every inch of your house allergen-free.

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