Should we dust off the leaves of an indoor bonsai with a dry sopalin by gently massaging each leaf towards its ends and then towards the outside?


Google tells me that 'sopalin' means kitchen paper or kitchen paper roll. No, don't use that, its too rough. The best thing to use is either a paintbrush (specially a larger paint brush of the type that children might use to do a painting) or a blusher brush, or any type of brush used for make up for the face. I suppose an ordinary paintbrush intended to paint a door frame or something might work, provided its fairly soft and has long bristles, but brushes intended for use on the face are the softest of all. Image in this link of a blusher brush https://www.byrdie.com/best-blush-brushes-4586784 to give you the general idea.

In regard to bacteria, there's no more bacteria in the dust on a plant than there is in the dust on your sideboard or shelving in your home, so that's not a problem, though if there's an excessive amount of dust, you might try not to breathe it in to avoid airway irritation. Have the vacuum cleaner at the ready if there's lot of dust - that will all end up on the floor.

If the dust has been there a long time, it may not simply brush off, so try with the brush first, then you might have to resort to using a soft, dampened cloth to carefully clean the leaves.

  • What are the risks to use too rough paper roll on leaves? In regard to bacteria, I wondered if the paper roll itself could bring bacteria on leaves (I know it's possible if we touch them or even because of rain, according to a research paper) Nov 27 '19 at 9:51
  • The risk of rough paper is scratching the leaves. These scratches can leave disfigured leaves or allow a bacteria or fungi to get in and attack your plant. It sounds like you are quite worried about bacteria and disease. You could soak the brush in H202 then let it dry before using, but I think that is going overboard. As long as you are no creating breaks in the leaves there is no worry of creating new bacteria outbreak. Even if you were to pinch or break a leaf, there is still a very low chance of disease. Plants have protective measures in place.
    – GardenGems
    Nov 27 '19 at 13:36
  • 1
    What GardenGems said in respect of kitchen paper - as I said, its too rough and may damage the leaves. In regard to bacteria and microorganisms, those are everywhere, including in you; each of has trillions of them in our bodies, they outnumber human cells 10-1. The chances of your being affected by bacteria from dust on a plant are vanishingly small, especially when compared with the risks from, say, simply eating food or sucking a cut finger when you damage it. You're at more risk when you open a bag of potting soil and extract some from it, and even that risk is tiny done in open air.
    – Bamboo
    Nov 27 '19 at 13:41

I would use a micorfiber cloth or cotton to clean the leaves. Unless you use wet sopallin. Dry sopallin will not remove the dust

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