Houseplants offer lots of benefits to homeowners. They can bring a little green to snowy winter months, they add some cheer and they also are just pretty. One of their best uses, however, is in cleaning indoor air.
With our modern, energy-efficient homes and the prevalence of toxins in our manufacturing processes, indoor air is likely to be even more polluted than outdoor air these days. Sources of toxins in our air include everything from fabric softeners to carpet cleaners to plastics to crop dusters in the fields near our homes. Cancer-causing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are in our paints, varnishes, fabrics and furniture, and they can lead to everything from asthma to headaches to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
The good news is that some houseplants can really help eliminate them, using a process called metabolic breakdown to convert these chemicals into energy, among other methods.
Scientists have found that all houseplants purify indoor air to some extent, but some plants do an especially good job of removing harmful toxins. Some plants work eliminating certain toxins better than others, too. One might be particular good at ridding the air of formaldehyde (likely to be highly present in your air if you have new carpet or lots of particle board materials in your home) while another might be great at reducing benzene levels (likely to be high in homes that have been exposed to pesticides and cigarette smoke).
View the list to see the ten best houseplants for purifying air, along with photos and information about which chemicals each plant is best at removing.
All houseplants are also effective at improving the health of your home's air in other ways such as reducing carbon monoxide, humidifying the air and increasing oxygen.
Keep plants away from drafts, which inhibit their air cleaning abilities.
How many plants do you need? As a general rule, aim for about one vigorous plant per 100 square feet of living area or 2 to 3 plants for a moderately sized room. For a typical 1,800 square-foot house, The University of Minnesota recommends 15 to 18 houseplants in 6- to 8-inch pots.
You may want more if you have more sources of pollutants, such as new carpet or furniture, recent paint jobs, a newer home or many items made out of plastic and pressboard (particle board).
Want to stay in the loop? Subscribe to be notified when I publish a new article in this column. You can also find me on Pinterest, where I have boards for wild edibles, green issues, organic gardening, gluten free and vegan recipes, natural health, homemade toys, homeschooling, outdoor play spaces for children and lots more, or on Facebook at All Natural Families.