Flowers are a traditional and lovely Mother’s Day gift that can add beauty and joy to any home … until they sit too long, that is. I’ve picked out three super common messes that come along with your bouquet, so that I can tell you how to clean them up without stressing.
Those Pollen Stains
I love lilies (the flowers and the overly loud printed dresses, both) so I know personally from this very real pain: The pollen, oh for the love, the highly-staining pollen! The problem with lily pollen is that, much like mascara (I bet you didn’t see that one coming!), there are two separate stain types that need to be addressed when it comes to this one substance, because pollen stains fall into both the oil and the pigment categories.
The other stain that pollen is similar too is mud, in that it’s best treated dry. In the case of mud, that means letting it dry before wicking away from the surface it’s befouling; in the case of pollen, that means that you’re better off treating the stain without liquid cleansers. If you have a clean paintbrush or makeup brush, use it to sweep the pollen off of the fabric on which it landed. Another great idea is to use scotch tape or a lint roller to remove the pollen with stickum.
If, even after attempting a dry-removal of the pollen, residual staining remains, try dabbing at it with a grease-cutting dish soap, like Dawn or Palmolive. Rubbing alcohol is another good choice for pollen stain treatment, as is any kind of laundry pretreatment product that contains enzymes (Zout is a favorite).
That Vase Gunk
It happens to the best of us: We leave cut flowers sitting too long in their vase, and when we finally admit that it’s time to give them a decent burial, the water has gone foul and the interior of the vase is coated in a stinking sludge. It’s nasty and, if you’ve used a particularly deep or narrow vase, can be tricky to clean. If you keep a bottle brush as part of your dishwashing toolkit, great — they’re narrow enough to get into even the skinniest of vases, and the bristles combined with a good dish soap will slough off that build-up in no time.
But not everyone has a bottle brush on hand, nor do they really need to run out and buy one just to clean up after an overly wilted floral arrangement. Many of our fizzy cleaning options will do the trick quite nicely! Denture tablets are a favorite of mine — a box of 100 will cost about $6 at any pharmacy (go ahead and buy the generic brand option, they’re all the same and the generic will save you a few dollars) and there are loads of uses for them, including and especially for scrubbing oddly-shaped items like vases and decanters. To use, simply drop a tablet in the vase and fill with hot water. Allow the fizzing action to do its thing for 5-10 minutes, and then rinse well with hot water.
Another beloved fizzing method is to combine 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda with ¼-½ cup white vinegar, depending on the size of the vase. The chemical reaction between the two will cause a volcano-like effect that will remove crusty build-up.
When a Potted Plant Attacks
It’s all too easy — especially in a home with kids running around — to knock over a potted plant and scatter dirt everywhere. If the plant was recently watered and the dirt is more mud-like in consistency, wait for it to dry before cleaning. The best way to clean up dirt is to use a vacuum, but be sure to switch to the hose attachment; the use of the brush attachment will just leave the bristles coated in dirt. And you don’t want to be vacuuming your house with dirt!
Of course, a lot of these things can be prevented with a little planning and very little extra effort. Changing the water out frequently will help to ensure the gunky build-up doesn’t form — and will help to make your flowers last longer! Removing the pollen buds from flowers like lilies will prevent them from accidentally swiping something, and putting potted plants in a sturdy, heavy-bottomed planter will keep overturns from happening. But if something does go wrong, you know what to do about it. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!