How to Clean Fabric Flowers

Nicole Whitney

Silk flowers are a nearly permanent decorating touch, adding color to a room in flower arrangements that do not die. This added elegance in your home can gather dust, making them dingy and less elegant, and the flowers are deceptively hard to clean. A feather duster makes all the dust go into the air you breathe, and it later settles back down onto the flowers and your furniture. Some fabric flowers cannot get wet, discoloring if they come in contact with water. But there are other ways to clean fabric flowers without ruining them.

Wet Method

Silk flowers don't have to become dingy with dust.
  1. Fill the sink with cool water and mix in a squirt of dish-washing detergent. You can also use a bowl or other container, but it should be big enough to fit your flowers. Longer stems will need a deeper container. Only use cool water, since hot water can adversely affect any glue in the flowers.

  2. Remove a flower from the arrangement and swish it in the soapy water. The swishing will remove any dirt. Rub stubborn areas to remove grime, but be gentle to avoid damaging the flower.

  3. Blot the flower dry once you have removed it from the water. Never rub the flower. Blotting will remove the moisture without damage.

  4. Replace the clean flower in the arrangement. Repeat until all the flowers are clean. Only use this method with flowers that can be completely submerged in water.

In-Between Method

  1. Fill a spray bottle with a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar.

  2. Place paper towels or cloths around the base of the arrangement. This protects your furniture from the moisture produced during cleaning.

  3. Spritz the arrangement with the vinegar solution and blot dry with a rag or dusting cloth. Do not rub the flowers. Blotting will pick up the dampened dirt and dry off the flowers without tearing or other damage. Use this method when the flowers can get moist or wet but can't be submerged, and when you cannot take the arrangement apart.

Dry Method

  1. Fill a plastic bag large enough to hold a flower from your arrangement with 1/2 cup of salt or cornmeal. Either will work because the granules will do the cleaning, not the substance itself. Longer flowers will need a larger bag to fit the stem inside.

  2. Remove a flower from your arrangement. Put it in the bag of salt or cornmeal and close the bag.

  3. Shake the bag gently for a minute or two. The granules of the salt or cornmeal will scrub the dust off as the bag is shaken.

  4. Remove the flower from the bag and replace it in the arrangement. Repeat until the flowers are all dusted. Use this method with flowers that cannot get wet but can resist a little shaking.