Air purifying houseplants are the perfect way to bring a little bit of nature into your home. They also have the added bonus of cleaning the air your family breathes each day! Although most trends come and go, the houseplant trend is still going strong, so if you’ve been looking for a reason to start a collection in your home, this is it!
NASA Clean Air Study
In 1989, NASA collaborated with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America to conduct the NASA Clean Air Study, which researched ways to clean air in space stations. Through this research, they discovered that not only did some plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, they also filtered the air of volatile organic compounds like benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. These VOCs are present in new furniture, paint, household cleaners, and other common items in the home.
To take advantage of air filtering houseplants, have one plant in your home for every 100 feet or so. If you live in a 2,000 square foot home, that’s about 20 houseplants. Which means it’s time to go plant shopping!
NASA’s Best Air Filtering Houseplants
The best air filtering houseplants include:
Pothos plants come in a number of different varieties and, even better, they’re pretty unfussy, so they’re great for anyone with a black thumb. Many regard pothos as one of the best houseplants for eliminating indoor air contaminants.
The prolific grower excels in eliminating formaldehyde from the air. English ivy is also great for anyone with allergies or asthma, since it’s been shown to remove mold from the air as well.
Dracaena Janet Craig
These lush green air purifying houseplants are particularly useful in rooms with new carpet or furniture because Dracaena Janet Craig can remove high levels of formaldehyde and xylene.
The peace lily is attractive and low-maintenance, and it cleans the air of toxins like acetone, trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde. They are toxic to cats, though, so if you’ve got feline friends in your home, opt for a spider plant instead.
This common houseplant is one of NASA’s top air purifiers, protecting your home from benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and xylene. Take good care of it and your plant will quickly have babies—and then you can have a spider plant (or two) in every room!
Heartleaf, selloum, and elephant ear philodendrons are all on NASA’s list of best air purifying plants, and they’re noted for their absorption of formaldehyde. These tropical plants are fairly easy going, but make sure you plant them in a well-draining pot so salt doesn’t build up in the soil over time.
Even with outright neglect, a snake plant will thrive. This makes snake plants another great air purifying houseplant for people who don’t consider themselves (indoor) gardeners. If you have even a little bit of natural light in your bathroom, add a snake plant to keep the air fresh.
NASA recognizes the rubber plant for eliminating formaldehyde from the air, but they’re not always the easiest air purifying houseplants to grow. They like indirect sunlight and during the summer, you should keep the soil moist to mimic its original growing conditions. Water too much, though, and the leaves will turn yellow and fall off.
The Areca palm makes a statement! Put this show-stopper in your living room, preferably in indirect sunlight from a window. The Areca palm is one of the best houseplants for eliminating indoor air pollutants, and it’s also a natural way to add more humidity to a room.
Boston ferns are another fussy houseplant, but it might just be worth it because it’s said to be the best plant for eliminating indoor air contaminants like formaldehyde. To keep a Boston fern happy in the wintertime, mist it regularly, set it on a tray of pebbles filled with water, or place it near a humidifier.
Not only is aloe included in NASA’s list of air purifying houseplants, it also alerts you to poor air quality because it develops brown spots on its leaves when there are high levels of VOCs like benzene in the air. Aloes come in many shapes and sizes, so it’s hard to resist trying to collect them all!