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12 Air-Purifying Houseplants for Cleaning Indoor Air

Image via Garry Knight/Flickr

They do more than make the house look good – they improve your health too! These 12 houseplants purify the air you breathe so that your lungs stay clean and your body clear of airborne contaminants.

Back in the 80’s, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America studied the ability of houseplants to clean air (in order to figure out how to keep air clean on moon bases in the future). Out of fifty houseplants, they found a majority of them helped filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

12 Air-Purifying Houseplants

Here are 12 houseplants that could stand to make their way in your home for some real air-purifying effects.

1. Spider Plants

Spider plants are one of the easiest plants to grow, but remove some of the hardest chemicals. Among the 50 plants tested by NASA, spider plants were the among some of the best for helping remove formaldehyde and benzene from the air. When placed in a sealed Plexiglas chamber for 24 hours, spider plants removed over 95% of the toxin. These plants grow quickly and hassle-free, so get one in your house STAT (especially if you use household cleaners that contain these chemicals).

2. Peace Lily

They’re called a “peace” lily for a reason. These helpful plants suction up the VOC benzene, a carcinogen found in paints, polishes and furniture wax. It also helps get rid of trichloroethylene (which can come from dry-cleaning) and acetone, which is emitted from electronics, nail polish-removers, some household cleaners and adhesives.

3. Snake Plants (aka. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue)

These plants are great for helping improve air quality – they help convert carbon dioxide into oxygen at night (which will help improve your sleep) and also filter formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and benzene from the air.

4. Elephant Ears

This natural air freshener rejuvenates the air and helps remove a variety of VOCs. It is a low upkeep house plant that look beautiful both indoors and out. This plant is poisonous, however, so make sure it is out of reach of pets and children!

5. Weeping Figs

These plants are inundated by birds when they produce fruit, and are a major help when it comes to cleaning the air. They’ve been found to be efficient at removing formaldehyde, xylene and ammonia (found in toilet cleaners, glass cleaners, floor polishing waxes and more).

6. Rubber Plants

This air freshening plant from India eliminates carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and more. Its leaves are broad, deep green and shiny, and provide a beautiful aesthetic appearance to any home!

7. Bamboo Palms (aka. Reed Palm)

Bamboo palms transpire and add healthy moisture into a room, so they make a great addition to the dry winter months. They are efficient at removing formaldehyde found in new carpet and cleaning products, as well as benzene, carbon monoxide, xylene, chloroform (fabric softeners) and more!

8. Aloe Vera

You might be resting while you sleep, but this plant sure doesn’t. Aloe vera is more than just a wound-healer and sunburn reliever, it helps to clear formaldehyde and benzene, which are often byproducts of paints, cleaners, perfumes, personal beauty products and more. It releases oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide at night, so does most of its work while we’re in dream-land.

9. Gerber Daisy

This gorgeous flower does more than just look pretty. It releases oxygen during the day, and continues doing so at night, helping you to breathe and sleep better. This makes them great for individuals suffering from breathing disorders or sleep apnea. They are also useful for getting rid of trichloroethylene (which can enter your home if you’ve ever had dry-cleaning done) and benzene that comes from inks.

10. Golden Pothos

In the NASA study, the Golden Pothos was among one of the best performers in terms of toxin removal. It helped remove over 73% of benzene and 9.2% of tichloroethylene in the sealed chamber experiment. This plant was even featured in a TED talk by Karmal Meattle as one of the three best plants for cleaning the air.

11. Chrysanthemum

Keep a few of these stunningly colourful flowers in the house to contribute to a healthier environment. They help filter out benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and ammonia, all chemicals commonly found in household cleaning products, wall paint, and beauty products.

12. English Ivy

This beautiful plant helps reduce airborne particles of something a little less beautiful – fecal matter. It also helps filter out formaldehyde in household cleaning products.

aloe vera plant with text - nasa-recommended: 12 plants to effectively purify indoor air

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