Five Tips to Protect Plants

If you work in the cleaning industry, you’ve probably had to deal with customer plants. While it’s not always an issue, if you are exterior soft washing or pressure washing, plants present another possible liability.

One of the most common cleaning solutions for soft washing contains sodium hypochlorite (SH) which is harmful to plants. SH is essentially a higher concentration of bleach. SH is used to kill and remove mold, mildew, and can be harmful to plants if you don’t take proper precautions. Here are a few tips for protecting plants on the job site.

Five Steps to Protect Customer Plants

watering plants

pre soaking plants protects them from bleach

1) Dilution

Dilution is the most basic and effective way of ensuring plants are protected during soft washing. SH hurts plants by pulling nutrients from the dirt and roots, and through corrosive burns on leaves, it’s best to saturate the soil and roots so that the plant can’t absorb the SH.

Before applying your house wash or roof wash mix, rinse and wet the plants and the surrounding soil. If you’re cleaning a roof or a surface that requires a higher concentration of SH, it’s a good idea to periodically apply more water to the plants or to have a second person working on dilution. Dilution practices drastically decrease the chance of killing or hamring plants.

covering plants

Covering plants to protect from bleach

2) Covering Plants

Another method that is sometimes useful is covering. Covering involves laying a tarp or other water-repellent fabric over the plant to shield them from the SH. Be careful when using this method, as you are creating a makeshift greenhouse when you cover a plant with a tarp. Prolonged covering can kill plants, essentially cooking them. Covering should only be used in temperate weather and for short periods of time.

Reroute runoff

Downspout reroute

3) Rerouting Gutters

If you’re cleaning a roof that has gutters and downspouts, one option is to reroute the water to a safer place, especially if the downspout empties into a garden. By rerouting the water to the grass or area, you can eliminate the risk to the plants. To reroute, you can buy specific gutter extensions, or DIY with PVC piping or a tarp. Be sure to lay a hose where the overflow goes to dilute the solution coming off the roof.

Agent Halt neutralizer

Bleach neutralizer

4) Neutralize Bleach

SH also damages plants by “burning” leaves, as it has a corrosive nature. To prevent this, use a neutralizer like Agent Halt from Agent Clean Solutions. It neutralizes the corrosive solution and renders it into salt water. The rinse aids help rinse away the solution. It is safe to use on plants, windows, vehicles, and other surfaces to neutralize on contact.

Sales manage expectations

manage customer expecations

5) Manage Expectations

One of the best things you can do is to manage your customer’s expectations. Customers don’t like surprises. In your initial appointment and in your What to Expect page, you can let the customer know that occasionally plants can be damaged from washing. This sets up their expectation that there are possible risks, and allows them to make an informed decision moving forward. That way, if some plant damage does occur, it is not a surprise.

Working around plants can be an accident waiting to happen, but following these simple steps can make your job easier and safer.


Agent Clean Solutions offers high-quality detergents, surfactants, and degreasers for use in the exterior cleaning industry. Originally developed to provide optimal products for Agent Clean franchise, A leader in the cleaning industry, Agent Clean Solutions provides a product lineup useful for day-to-day soft washing, power washing, and window cleaning operations, as well as business and systems training at events around the country. For information regarding this release or our products, contact our office at (855) 927-4243 or email