Best Houseplants for Cleaning and Purifying the Air

Woman Watering Houseplants

Research conducted by NASA indicates that a variety of different houseplants can help remove toxins from the air in a sealed environment. While further study is needed on exactly how well these plants work to clean air in open environments (like a house), they can be a great addition to your home. There are a number of options you can try, many of which require only minimal care.

English Ivy

English Ivy

English Ivy (Hedera helix), is one of the best plants to purify air according to the NASA study. Sunset Magazine also lists it as a top pick for cleaning air. This plant can help to reduce:

  • Formaldehyde (present in things like some household products, wood floor resins, carpet dye, water repellents, insulation, space heaters, and others)
  • Airborne mold

Plant Care

This houseplant can be placed in a hanging planter and only needs to be misted with water weekly. It needs about four hours or more of medium direct sunlight per day and a consistent air temperature.

Safety

This plant could cause stomach irritation to children or pets if consumed.

Spider Plant

Spider Plant

The Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is listed as one of the top nine houseplants to help clean air in the home according to This Old House. It has been shown to be effective at reducing:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Carbon monoxide (emitted from things such as water heaters, dryers, fireplaces, gas stoves or ranges, auto exhaust, and more)
  • Benzene (found in building materials, furniture, solvents, heating and cooling systems, and more)
  • Xylene (found in products such as paint, varnish, solvents, cigarette smoke, gasoline, and more, as well as auto exhaust)

Plant Care

Spider plants are another easy-care option. Plant them in a well-draining soil and water every 10 to 14 days. They prefer bright light but are also adaptable and can grow well in lower light conditions or artificial light.

Safety

This plant is non-toxic for children and pets.

Peace Lily

Peace Lily

The Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) is another top option for air purification and is recommended by Lifehacker. Toxins it helps absorb from the air include:

  • Benzene
  • Formaldehyde
  • Xylene
  • Trichloroethylene (found in solvents, adhesives, paint removers, spot removers, and more)
  • Ammonia (found in cleaning products, pesticides, and other chemicals)

Plant Care

Peace Lilies aren't difficult to care for and could improve the Feng Shui of your home. They require medium, indirect sunlight but can also thrive under fluorescent lights. Water once a week or so by misting with leaves.

Safety

Peace Lilies aren't technically considered poisonous to kids or pets, but can cause extreme irritation if consumed.

Areca Palms

Areca Palms

Arecea Palms (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens) are native to Madagascar. Healthline recommends this plant for its ability to help filter several toxins, including:

  • Benzene
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Formaldehyde
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Xylene

Plant Care

This plant requires bright, filtered light and a well-draining soil. The soil should be kept moist but not over-saturated. A good rule of thumb is to waiting until the first couple inches of soil have dried out before watering.

Safety

Areca Palm is not considered toxic to humans or animals.

Gerbera Daisy

Gerbera Daisy

The Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) is a good option if you are looking for a bright and beautiful houseplant to purify the air. Named as a best choice from Mother Nature Network, this plant helps reduce:

  • Trichloroethylene
  • Cenzene

Plant Care

Gerbera Daisies are a fairly hardy plant variety. They'll do best with three to five hours of bright sunlight (except in winter) and afternoon shade. Water the plants about every three to five days or when the top half inch of soil begins to feel dry to the touch.

Safety

This is considered a non-toxic plant, so it's safe for homes with children and pets.

Boston Fern

Boston Fern

Boston Fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata) is cited by Good Housekeeping as one of the best plants to help purify air in the home. It can help filter levels of various chemicals in the air, including:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Benzene
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Xylene

Plant Care

Boston Ferns don't require extensive care, though they will grow best in indirect sunlight and need moist soil. You may need to water these plants several times a week to keep the soil moist, but avoid over-saturating.

Safety

Boston Ferns aren't toxic to pets or humans.

Link Between Houseplants and Air Purification

Many claims supporting the use of plants in the home to remove air pollutants are supported by the well-known 1989 NASA Clean Air Study. While both that study and later ones, like a 2009 study on how well indoor plants removed volatile organic pollutants, do show that plants can significantly reduce harmful toxins in the air, the studies were done in sealed environments. Some experts suggest that the plants do not have the same effect when they aren't in a sealed environment, indicating that further study is needed to determine how effective houseplants can be in open environments.

Prevent Pollutants and Breathe Cleaner

While it's possible that houseplants could help with cleaner air, it always best to try to avoid introducing pollutants and toxins in the air in the first place. However, the beauty and minimal care requirements of many indoor plants mean there's no reason not to utilize them in your home in your quest for cleaner air.

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Best Houseplants for Cleaning and Purifying the Air