Cleaning Silk Flowers
Insider Reports: Ask the Maid
Does anyone know how to make homemade silk plant cleaner? Or how about homemade house plant cleaner to get the dust off the leaves? The aerosol cans that you can buy in the store are expensive, and they do not last long.
What I have found to work the best for cleaning silk plants is to put about one cup of table salt in a large grocery paper bag. Put your silk plant inside the paper bag, roll the top down a couple of times and then shake the bag. The salt will remove the dust from the leaves of the plants. Just shake the plant a little as you take it out of the paper bag to make sure all the salt is off the silk plant. You can then store the salt in the paper bag for future use of cleaning silk plants.
First, fill one side of your sink with cool water. (Cool water will not damage the glue that is holding the piece to the stem and leaf supports. You can use tepid water, but it can not be hot. The glue will melt and the product will eventually fall apart.)
Add about a teaspoon of lemon dish detergent. (Lemon dish detergent contains a small amount of bleach and is safe for all silk products. Also the lemon will help in dissolving grease and heavy dust.)
Remove your silk product from its container. (If you are cleaning a floral arrangement, remove and clean one stem at a time. Replace the stem you have cleaned before removing the next one. You will be able to keep the arrangement intact without having it re-designed.)
Swish the silk product in the water. If the dirt is heavy, you may need to wipe it some while it is under the water. Be careful that you do not damage the underside of the leaves. These are only glued together and can come apart. Also be careful that you do not scrub leaves or flowers. This will fray the ends of the material, leaving your silk products looking old and tattered.
Once the silk product is clean, place it on a hand towel or paper towel and blot dry. Do not rub it. This will also fray the ends of the material. It does not have to be completely dry to replace it to its container. It will air dry within a few minutes.
When I was younger, I would watch my mother use watered down mayonnaise to wash off the leaves of her real plants. It gave them a very shiny leaf. With silk plants, you can vacuum them. You can find a mini vacuum cleaner head for most vacuums that will fit on the end of the hose. It has a little brush on it, so that you are brushing the dust loose as it suctions the dust away.
Simply mix a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water. If the silk flowers are very expensive, test for colorfastness in an inconspicuous area of the flower before spritzing liberally.
Also, for simple dusting, clean with a hair dryer set on high fan, cool air. Or simply slip a length of panty hose over your vacuum nozzle and vacuum the flowers.
For silk flowers that are not colorfast, try this. Place cornmeal in a brown bag or plastic bag, and place the flower into the bag. Shake gently to remove caked on dust and dirt. This will not remove any stains, however.
C. in Alabama
The easiest and cheapest way that I have found to clean silk flowers is cheap hair spray. Buy the least expensive kind you can find (make sure it is aerosol) and just spray directly on the "plants." Make sure to do it outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. It works like a charm! The dust disappears and the plants look brand new.
My solution is actually for cleaning "real" houseplants. I wait until it's time to water my plants and then I just stick them in the shower and "hose" them off. This way, they get clean and watered at the same time. Also, if you put the plug in the tub, you can use the water for something else like cleaning the tub.
For large arrangements, I use a dryer sheet to wipe down petals and leaves. I can re-use the sheets in my dryer later.
If you don't mind remaking your arrangement, you can place silk flower and plant stems in the dryer with a dryer sheet. Be sure to put the dryer on a cool or delicate cycle and only run it for about one minute to prevent damage to the silks. If the dust isn't completely gone, let your silks stand for a few minutes to make sure they are cooled completely and run the dryer again for another minute or less. I do this about once a month.
The very best solution is rubbing alcohol. Mix it 50/50 with water and spray until the dust starts to run off the plants. It will dry quickly and cleans like a dream. I have used this for many years. It works well for dried flowers as well.
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