20 Best Plants for Cleaning Indoor Air
In recent years, indoor air quality is gaining attention as one of the top priorities in living systems. NASA’s Clean Air Study from 1989 concluded that indoor plants can reduce indoor air pollutants, including formaldehyde. Well, good news for anyone who loves houseplants like pothos! A more recent investigation by the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology suggests that while indoor plants do purify the air, they do so too slowly to make a noticeable difference.
Nonetheless, every bit helps, right? And do we really need another reason to fill our homes with natural beauty? Learn which plants can help remove harmful pollution from the air, such as formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, and carbon monoxide.
It is important to remember that some plants and parts of plants can be toxic and should be kept out of the reach of children and pets. Check out these 20 plants that help remove pollutants.
A classically elegant choice for groundcover or a houseplant, English ivy can remove harmful chemicals that are found in the home. It can grow in full sun to full shade, can be trained into shapes, and with proper care, it will thrive for several years.
A bamboo palm, also known as a reed palm, thrives best in partial sunlight or shade, making it an excellent houseplant that helps to remove pollutants such as formaldehyde and benzene.
The Chinese evergreen is an easy-care plant that grows in low to medium light. It normally reaches a height of one or two feet and contributes to the maintenance of healthy air quality in the home. However, it does contain an irritant that is toxic to pets.
When placed indoors, this popular annual is useful in removing benzene and providing mood-enhancing beauty to the home. However, keep in mind that the gerbera daisy does best in warm temperatures, at 75 degrees or higher.
The foliage on this plant varies from green to purple, making it a stunning addition to an indoor or outdoor space. It is also suitable for low-light conditions, making it ideal for offices.
Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’
This succulent is an ideal houseplant for beginners and is hardy and can survive a wide variety of lighting conditions as well as a wide variety of temperatures. However, it requires careful watering otherwise it may not withstand the harshest conditions.
The pot mum is a great choice for removing benzene from the air, as well as a beautiful addition to the home in the fall when other flowers are past their prime.
Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’
Peace lilies are known for their ability to combat toxic gases such as formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. They often weaken when they are not watered, showing signs of drooping when it’s time. Pets and humans can suffer mild toxic reactions to these plants, so it’s crucial to wash your hands after handling them.
Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’
These easy-care houseplants thrive in bright indirect light and work hard to remove harmful pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene from the air. Spider plants prefer slightly dry soil, so let them breathe a little between waterings.
Mass Cane/Corn Plant
Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’
Dracaena mass cane/corn has been found to be effective at removing formaldehyde from the air. It is one of the most popular varieties of Dracaenas due to its beautiful foliage that ranges from green to yellow. As well as looking amazing as a tree, they can be grown as shrubs as well.
Studies have shown that rubber trees can absorb and break down dangerous chemicals in the air and with their large, glossy leaves they can also convert the carbon dioxide we exhale into oxygen. Growing them requires potting soil that drains well, watering regularly, and liquid fertilizer when they begin to grow.
Lemon Button Fern
Lemon button ferns, relatives of Boston ferns, are useful for cleaning indoor air and removing toxins. They grow approximately a foot high and thrive in indirect light as long as they have a high level of humidity. Unlike most ferns, they tolerate drought more than most, so let the soil dry slightly before watering again.
Various pothos species are tested for the removal of benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, carbon monoxide, and xylene in NASA clean air studies. These tropical plants tolerate low light, although they might turn their leaves solid green. Place them in hanging baskets or containers and let them trail over a table’s edge.
The leaves of philodendrons can have different shapes and sizes, making them a good fit for homes with medium to bright indirect light. Many varieties, like ‘Xanadu’, adapt readily to most homes with indirect light. Researchers say their products remove indoor toxins including formaldehyde, which is found in carpets and cleaning products.
Plants like parlor palms were popular during the Victorian Era, and are still popular today in part because they adapt to the low lighting conditions typically found in many homes. Benzene and trichloroethylene can also be effectively removed from homes and workplaces with plants that clean the air according to NASA research.
Aloe barbadensis Miller
Succulent plants made of aloe are easy to grow and are also good air purifiers when used in conjunction with paints, cleaners and other products that emit benzene and formaldehyde. They need a sunny location in your home. Plant them in cactus potting soil or add perlite to a regular potting soil for better drainage. Use the gel from a piece of broken or cut aloe as a natural treatment for burns.
Broad Lady Palm
Also known as the broadleaf lady palm, this plant can reduce ammonia found in certain indoor cleaning products. It also filters out benzene, nitrogen oxide, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. Plants of this type grow to six feet tall and tolerate low light, making them ideal for dim corners. They need moist soil, but good drainage.
This variety, ‘Frankie,’ has pink and green leaves while others have white and green or green and red foliage. Fittonias are low-maintenance houseplants that filter toluene, benzene, and trichloroethylene. These plants grow three to six inches tall, so they’re ideal for terrariums and dish gardens. Provide them with high humidity, moist soil, well-drained soil, and indirect light.
In NASA research, ficus trees proved to improve indoor air quality by trapping pollutants like formaldehyde and xylene. Weeping figs are delicate and their leaves may turn yellow and drop when moved to a new location or watered differently. Usually the leaves will grow back once the plant adjusts to the new light conditions. Most ficus plants prefer direct or indirect light, with high humidity. Wait until the soil is dry before you water.
This evergreen plant, also called flamingo lily, is noted for its brightly colored flowers. NASA researchers say it can clean indoor air of ammonia, toluene, xylene and formaldehyde. It is important to mist anthuriums regularly and keep their soil moist without sogginess, as they need bright indirect light and high humidity.