We often think of pollution as an outdoor problem, but indoor air can also be polluted with harmful chemicals. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, people spend 90 percent of their time indoors and poor air quality can cause great harm to their health.
Indoor air pollutants can trigger coughing, chest tightness, frequent headaches, sore throats, watery or itchy eyes, shortness of breath and asthma attacks.
Some of the most dangerous indoor air pollutants include carbon monoxide, radon gas, formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia and trichloroethylene.
These harmful pollutants arise from cigarette smoke, paint, plastics, chemicals in carpets, cleaning solutions and numerous building and furniture materials.
Nature offers a simple and effective solution for indoor air purification. Many plants help remove pollutants from the air naturally.
In fact, a 1989 NASA study suggests having at least one houseplant with air purification power for every 100 square feet of home or office space.
However, be careful in your selection of houseplants if you have pets in your house as some houseplants such as English ivy, red-edged dracaena, peace lily, weeping fig, rubber plant and florist’s chrysanthemum can be toxic to pets.
Here are the 10 best plants you can grow indoors for air purification.
1. English Ivy
The English ivy is one of the best houseplants for air purification. Its dense foliage can successfully absorb prevalent indoor pollutants and chemicals.
Its air-filtering abilities can eliminate harmful chemicals, such as benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene. It will even help clear the air of cigarette smoke.
This evergreen climbing plant is very easy to grow and needs little space, moderate temperature and medium sunlight. You can hang it or perch it on the floor, depending upon the available space.
Water it generously during the early growing stage and simply keep the soil moist for maintenance. Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer on a monthly basis to keep it healthy.
2. Peace Lily
The peace lily is one of the top indoor plants for cleaning air. This tropical plant breaks down and neutralizes harmful indoor gases, such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, ammonia and carbon monoxide.
It also absorbs alcohol and acetone from the air, which is emitted by electronics, adhesives and certain cleaners.
This indoor plant needs medium, indirect sunlight. Water it thoroughly 1 or 2 times a week but avoid standing water.
Use an all-purpose liquid fertilizer once a month to help the plant grow generously. To maximize its air-cleansing ability, keep the foliage dust-free.
The occasional fragrant, white blooms of the peace lily during the summer will also enhance the interior of your home or office.
3. Red-Edged Dracaena
The red-edged dracaena is another excellent air-cleaning plant. It has long, wide leaves that are often variegated with red lines.
One large potted red-edged dracaena can do the work of several smaller other plants. It helps remove indoor toxins, such as xylene, benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.
Keep the soil damp but not soggy. The plant can grow up to 15 feet tall, so you’ll need to trim it occasionally. As the leaves accumulate dust, be sure to wipe them regularly with a damp cloth.
This vibrant plant is also great for decorating and filling up empty space in your home and office.
4. Boston Fern
The Boston fern is also considered one of the most efficient air purifiers. It is highly effective in removing formaldehyde, which is found in glues and pressed wood products.
It also removes xylene and toluene from the air. It can even remove toxic metals, such as mercury and arsenic, from soil.
It prefers indirect sunlight, however a small amount of sunlight encourages growth. Water it regularly to keep the soil moist at all times but make sure the soil does not become soggy.
Give it a balanced fertilizer every 2 weeks. Protect the plant from warm air from indoor heating as well as cold drafts.
This indoor plant prefers a fairly high humidity level, so you can even keep it in your bathroom. You can also keep it in a hanging basket as a decorative element.
5. Snake Plant
Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, the snake plant is another good one to grow in your house and office for air purification.
It can help get rid of formaldehyde, nitrogen oxide and benzene. In addition, it helps lower carbon dioxide levels.
This wonderful houseplant can thrive without much light or water. It generally prefers drier conditions and some sunlight. So, do not water it too much, especially during the winter.
The best place to keep this evergreen perennial plant is your bedroom, as it gives a slight oxygen boost while you sleep. You can even keep this plant in your bathroom or any other empty corner space in your house or office.
6. Bamboo Palm
Also known as the reed palm, the bamboo palm helps filter out both benzene and trichloroethylene. When placed near furniture, it helps get rid of formaldehyde also.
This plant thrives in shady indoor spaces and is easy to care for. Keep the soil moist, but avoid overwatering and ensure proper draining. Make sure to protect it from cool drafts and regularly remove dead or wilted leaves.
This slow-growing, attractive plant makes a great addition to your indoor landscape. It can grow from 4 to 8 feet high and looks great in corners. In addition, it is a pet-friendly houseplant.
7. Spider Plant
The spider plant, often called airplane plant, is a flowering perennial herb that helps reduce indoor air pollution. It is effective in reducing formaldehyde, xylene and toluene.
This plant is considered one of the most adaptable of houseplants and can thrive in a wide range of conditions. It flourishes in well-drained soil and bright, indirect light. Water the plant regularly but avoid soggy soil.
The spider plant makes a beautiful addition to any home interior. You can use it as hanging display or place it in a corner.
8. Rubber Plant
The ornamental rubber plant is another powerful toxin eliminator and air purifier that you can easily grow indoors. It is especially efficient at removing formaldehyde from the air. It also eliminates carbon monoxide.
The rubber plant prefers full or bright, filtered light and thrives in wet, tropical conditions. Water it moderately and use a high-nitrogen fertilizer once a month.
Trim the plant regularly to maintain its size. To keep the broad, deep green leaves shiny, wipe them gently with tepid water and a soft cloth from time to time.
You can use this small tree as a centerpiece on a table or on a shelf or windowsill. You can even place it on the floor next to a fireplace or near entryways.
Note: Avoid contact with the milky latex of the rubber plant, as it can cause skin irritation.
9. Weeping Fig
The weeping fig is one of the world’s most popular houseplants that helps eliminate harmful chemicals from indoor air. It is effective at getting rid of chemicals like formaldehyde, xylene and benzene.
This houseplant grows well in a bright room, with a little direct, morning sun. Water the plant regularly to keep the soil moist.
It also needs plenty of fertilizer throughout the growing season. The plant is sensitive to cold and should be protected from strong drafts.
It looks like a typical tree with a single trunk and a spreading canopy and makes beautiful corner plants. You can also use it in entryways and foyers.
10. Florist’s Chrysanthemum
The florist’s chrysanthemum plant, also known as florist’s daisy and hardy garden mum, is another effective houseplant for purifying the air.
Its strong air-cleaning qualities can help remove trichloroethylene, benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia and other chemicals.
This seasonal flowering plant needs bright, indirect light to grow properly. Water it quite often, perhaps up to 2 or 3 times a week to keep the soil damp.
Use any good quality all-purpose fertilizer once a month. The flowers come in different colors, including red, orange, yellow, white and lavender.
This indoor plant can add splashes of color to brighten up a dull spot in your house or office. Avoid placing this it in very dry or low humidity areas.
- Increase ventilation in your house to allow fresh air in. This will help remove indoor pollutants.
- Install a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter in your house and office.
- If using a gas stove, keep the kitchen window open while cooking or turn on the fan hood to reduce nitrogen dioxide buildup.
- Avoid house cleaning products that have chlorine, ammonia and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Bathe your pet regularly. To reduce allergens in your house, you can brush your pet outside.
- Use air conditioning to keep humidity down and reduce dust mite allergens.
- Wash your bedding once a week in hot water and, if possible, dry it in direct sunlight.
- Reduce dust by dusting often with a damp cloth or dust mop.
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
- Make a strict rule and say ‘no’ to smoking in your home.
- Avoid the use of chemical air fresheners as they contain toxic chemicals. Instead, you can easily make your own natural air freshener at home with baking soda and essential oils. You can find the recipe in this post.