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14 Air-purifying house plants to improve your indoor air quality

Gerber Daisy
Gerber Daisy
photo by James Micciulla via flickr

We all know plants produce oxygen for our planet, but did you know they can also filter toxins out of the air in your home? In fact, NASA scientists conducted a study to determine which plants would be best to improve indoor air quality in the space station and found many plants that filter out common VOCs. Consider adding some of these air-filtering flora to your décor so you can breathe a little easier.

English Ivy

This hearty vine’s dense leaves absorb formaldehyde, a prevalent indoor pollutant that can be found in some glues, wood floorboard resins, synthetic carpet dyes, and pressed wood products including cabinetry, plywood paneling, and furniture.

Peace Lily

The white-flowered Peace Lily is good for ridding the air of benzene, a carcinogenic VOC found in paints, furniture wax, and polishes. The Peace Lily will also absorb acetone emitted by electronics, adhesives and certain cleaners. But take care if you have dogs and cats that like to nibble your plants, Peace Lilies are poisonous to pets.

Lady Palm

This easy-growing tree-like species helps clear the air of ammonia, a major ingredient in many cleaners, textiles and dyes that can be harmful to the respiratory system.

Boston Fern

One of the most efficient air purifiers, the Boston fern is great at removing formaldehyde from the air, which, as previously mentioned, is a prevalent indoor pollutant. Some studies show it can also remove toxic metals like mercury and arsenic from soil.

Snake Plant

The sharp-leafed Snake Plant absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen at night (a reversal of the process most plants undergo), so they’re great for keeping in the bedroom for a slight nighttime oxygen boost. Also, in addition to helping lower carbon dioxide, Snake Plants help rid the air of formaldehyde and benzene.

Golden Pothos

Like many other vines, the Golden Pothos combats formaldehyde, but this one also targets carbon monoxide and benzene. Golden Pothos often works well in a mudroom or entryway, where car exhaust fumes are most likely to sneak indoors.

Wax Begonia

Known for clusters of white, pink, or red flowers during the summer, the Wax Begonia is a powerhouse when it comes to filtering benzene and chemicals produced by toluene, a liquid found in some waxes and adhesives.

Red-Edged Dracaena

The red-trimmed leaves of this slow-growing shrub will take care of gases released by xylene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde, which can be introduced by lacquers, varnishes, and sealers.

Spider Plant

The easy-to-care-for Spider Plant’s long, grassy leaves and hanging stems go to battle against benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene, a solvent used in the leather, rubber and printing industries.

Aloe Vera

An easy-to-grow, sun-loving succulent, Aloe Vera helps clear the air of formaldehyde and benzene, which can be a byproduct of chemical-based cleaners, paints and more. And, as an added bonus, the gel inside an Aloe plant can help heal cuts and burns.

Gerber Daisy

This bright, flowering plant needs a lot of light, but is quite effective at removing trichloroethylene, which can be associated with dry cleaning and brought into the home with your dry cleaned clothing. Gerber Daisies are also good for filtering out benzene.

Weeping Fig (Ficus)

The long-lasting though often finicky Ficus (you need to get the watering and light just right) can help filter out pollutants like formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene that typically accompany carpeting and furniture.

Bamboo Palm

This small palm often produces flowers and small berries, and it’s a powerhouse when it comes to filtering both benzene and trichloroethylene out of the air. Bamboo Palms also work well around furniture that may be off-gassing formaldehyde.

Heart Leaf Philodendron

This climbing vine plant is toxic when eaten – so make sure it’s not accessible to children or pets -- but it's a workhorse when it comes to removing all kinds of VOCs, particularly formaldehyde.

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