The Best Indoor Plants for Air Purification

By Ashley Ess in Thinking Sustainably

It's only natural to assume that the air we breathe in our homes is clean, especially when we don't see or smell anything off-putting. And while we've all been taught how bad outdoor air pollution can be for our health, the truth is, there's still some not-so-fresh air that lingers inside our homes.

So, how do we limit our exposure to pollutants that we can't even detect because of their lack of smell or visual indicators? By choosing some of the best indoor plants for air purification, you can make a huge difference in improving the air your family breathes daily. Placing easy-to-maintain, air-filtering foliage throughout your house not only brings the beauty of nature inside, but it also puts those pesky pollutants on notice.

Indoor Air Quality and Its Impact on Your Health

According to a study published in the journal HortScience, certain houseplants are capable of removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that pollute indoor air. Compounds such as trichloroethylene, benzene, and octane, among many others, exist in home environments because of off-gassing from home furnishings, carpets, and building materials. Paint, adhesives, and even clothing also contribute to VOCs in the air. We often spend over 90% of our time inside, according to the HortScience study, so these pollutants can become more than a nuisance. They can affect your health.

As the Environmental Protection Agency states, the health effects from hazardous elements present in indoor air can occur immediately or build up over a long period of time. Immediate effects can include watery eyes, throat irritation, and dizziness, while long-term effects can be as serious as heart and respiratory diseases. Exposure to these elements can also exacerbate already-present health conditions, such as asthma.

Deciding on the best indoor plants for your health may be easier than you think. For many of the best air-purifying plants, no expert green-thumb status is required. There are plenty of options that are easy to care for. However, if you have pets, you'll want to make sure that any varieties you choose are not dangerous to animals.

Indoor plant on table

How Do Plants Purify Air?

A groundbreaking NASA study tested several houseplant varieties against exposure to pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. The results showed that certain plants effectively absorb the offending particles through the soil and into the roots. Other plants are known to absorb pollutants through pores in the stem and leaf. As an added bonus, indoor plants also absorb carbon dioxide and replace it with oxygen.

The Best Indoor Plants for Air Purification

The following plants are superior at minimizing or removing pollutants in your home, according to the NASA study.

Spider Plant

It doesn't get much easier to care for a plant than this. This variety will last a long time with little upkeep other than watering. Spider plants are particularly helpful for removing formaldehyde.

Snake Plant

This is an easy plant to take care of as long as it isn't overwatered. Snake plants (also known as mother-in-law's tongue) are great to keep in the bedroom since they release oxygen at night. They also help to remove several offending pollutants, including benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.

indoor snake plant

Bamboo Palm

This beauty helps battle the formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene in indoor air. As a lover of humidity, a bamboo palm could thrive in your bathroom.

Chinese Evergreen

This tropical plant is also perfect for the bathroom since it loves humidity and doesn't need bright sun. Chinese evergreens are great for removing formaldehyde and benzene. However, it's important to note that these are poisonous to pets, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Chrysanthemum

Add a pop of color to your home with this lovely flowering plant. Chrysanthemums are considered one of the top choices for air purification, and they're perfect for a bright spot in your kitchen. The only catch here is that the plant only filters airborne substances while its flowers are in bloom.

Dracaena

Although the ASPCA cites that dracaenas are toxic for cats and dogs, these plants do a great job filtering out formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. They're also easy to care for, as long as they don't get too much water. You can choose from several varieties, many of which are easy on the wallet.

English Ivy

This low-maintenance plant is effective at removing compounds like benzene and trichloroethylene. Place English ivy in a room with plenty of direct sunlight and give it plenty of water.

indoor English ivy

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Why It's Good

Bringing nature indoors with air-purifying houseplants not only helps protect your family from airborne pollutants, but it's the perfect way to stay connected with our ecosystem while at home.