9 Best Air Purifying Plants: The Organic Way to Remove Indoor Toxins

Did you know that it is recommended you place two average-sized plants per every 100 square feet of your indoor space? Yes, but don’t just put any plant. Choose one good air purifying plant to place there.

That aside – for a moment…

What is the one thing that your apartment or office may have in common with a NASA spaceship? Regrettably, the answer to this question could be the presence of low-quality air. Currently, indoor air pollutants rank among the most common public health risks, as far as environmental risks go.

  • When your house has a stagnant indoor air environment, pollutants to start building up.
  • In the end, they tend to stick around for much longer than you would like, which is why humans breathe them in.
  • When you work and live in a place that is filled with all kinds of contaminants, you are likely to get the sick building syndrome.
  • The syndrome can cause irritation of the nose, ear, and eyes, headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

But this no longer needs be the case as you can use houseplants to purify your air. Below is our list of the best air purifying plants you can place in your bathroom, bedroom and pretty much every indoor space you have. I will also guide you on how to choose plants for your house, with a little information from a NASA study on these plants.

About the 1989 NASA Experiment

Plants are an important part of our life. They are able to convert the carbon dioxide expelled by human beings through the breathing process into oxygen through a process known as photosynthesis.

A NASA experiment published in 1989 established that it is possible for plants to scrub the air and eliminate organic compounds, e.g., benzene and formaldehyde which have been known to cause cancer.[1]

In conducting this experiment, the researchers from NASA were hoping to find ways that they could use to detoxify the air found in the space stations.

Recent research has indicated that potted plants have soil micro-organisms which can play an essential role in cleaning the air found indoors.

The results of the NASA experiment showed that houseplants could be used as natural air purifiers, and the bigger the leaves in a plant, the better it was at purifying the air. According to Bill Wolverton, a former researcher with NASA, and who was involved in the 1989 experiment, the amount of leaf surface area can impact the rate at which air is purified.

He goes on to say that it may be impossible to determine the total number of plants required to do away with contaminants in an ordinary room, but he does recommend having at least two average sized plants for every one hundred square feet of interior space.

According to Bill, the Boston Fern is an effective plant when it comes to eliminating air pollutants, but the plant is very difficult to grow in the house. He goes on to recommend the golden pathos as his preferred choice not only because of its popularity but because it is very easy to grow as well.[2]

Best air purifying plants for indoor use

Even though indoor plants can be intimidating to people who have the fear of commitment, you will be surprised to learn that many plants are actually very easy to care for.

Actually, you would have to try really hard for you to be able to kill some of these plants. Below is a list of plants that were identified in the NASA study mentioned above as being the best for indoor use.

For each type of plant, there is an environment it favors, and you should, therefore, ensure that you do proper research to determine the amount of water or sunlight that the plant will need. In case the plant does not come with a pot, or it happens to outgrow its pot, you can always report it.

All you need to do is find a pot that is at least an inch bigger than the pot you previously had, add some soil to its bottom, and then add this plant to the top part of the soil, to ensure that the soil level will not change, and will remain in the same position it was previously.

Once this is done, all you need to do is add some potting soil around the plant’s edges, add some water and you will be done.

Garden Mum

This plant was found to be an air-purifying champion in the NASA research. It was able to eliminate xylene, ammonia, formaldehyde, and benzene from the air indoors.

These plants are very popular at garden stores, and they also come at very affordable prices. You can plant them outside in your garden once they have completed the blooming process.

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Spider plants

Ocean Spider Plant

Considered among the easiest to grow, which makes them an ideal choice for people who are forgetful, or those who are getting started with indoor house planting. The plant likes bright, but indirect sunlight, which is used by the plant to send out shoots.

The shoots have flowers which later start growing into baby spider plants. It is known to remove pollutants such as xylene and formaldehyde.

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Dracaena

National Tree 21 Inch Garden Accents Green Dracaena Plant

Dracaena plants come in more than forty varieties, which is a good fact as you have many options to choose from when shopping for a plant for your office or home. These plants are normally described as common foliage plants that have long and wide leaves that are traditionally variegated with red, cream, or white lines.

A pet owner may, however, be required to choose a different type of plant as this particular kind tends to be toxic to dogs and cats. It is able to remove the following pollutants: xylene, benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde.

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Weeping fig (Ficus)

Jmbamboo - Gardens Starlight Weeping Fig - Ficus

It is native to the Southeast Asian region. When grown indoors, it can grow between two and ten feet tall. It also happens to be a low maintenance plant that only requires indirect sunlight for it grows. You also need to make sure that the soil dries out before you can water it again.

Even though this particular plant possesses excellent air cleaning abilities, you could choose to take it outside the residence during the spring seasons, and take it back inside the house when indoor temperatures have become warmer, and are above freezing points.

It can remove pollutants such as trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, and benzene.

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Peace Lily

Peace Lily

These plants are very small as compared to most of the plants that were included in the NASA research list. However, they are still very good at purifying the air despite their small size. What’s even better is that they are very easy to grow, and have been known to flower during the summer season.

You should, however, be aware of the fact that these flowers contain floral scents and pollen which tend to fill the air, and you need to ensure that you do not have too many plants in one room. It is recommended that they are placed in a shaded spot, and the soil kept moist at all times. Ensure that you do not overwater the soil.

Peace lily can help eliminate pollutants such as trichloroethylene, ammonia, formaldehyde, and benzene.

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Boston Fern

Costa Farms, Home Décor, Premium Live Indoor Boston Fern

The Boston Fern which comes highly recommended by Bill Wolverton assists in purifying the air, but they must be kept in a location that is cool, has indirect light, and high humidity. It is an easy-to-grow a plant, but it must be kept moist at all times.

You have to check the soil in the potted plant on a daily basis to determine whether it needs additional water. Try to give the plant a good soak at least once every four weeks. It assists in removing the xylene and formaldehyde pollutants.

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Mother in law’s tongue (snake plant)

Snake Plant, Mother-In-Law's Tongue

It is considered the hardest indoor houseplant to kill. Even though you need to water it on a frequent basis, the plant prefers conditions that are dry, with plenty of sunlight.

It can help in removing house pollutants like xylene, benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde.

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Bamboo palm

Bamboo palm

It is a superstar when it comes to cleaning and filtering indoor air. The plant has been known to thrive in areas that are bright or filled with sunlight. The reason they are able to filter so much air is due to the fact that they are able to grow very big.

In some cases, they can grow between four and twelve feet making them a great addition to the indoors.

They help in removing pollutants like trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, and benzene.

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Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is not only easy to care for, but the plant also has some health benefits. Its leaves contain a clear liquid that is filled with amino acids, enzymes, and vitamins.

It also has additional compounds that come in handy in healing a wound, dealing with infections and swelling. There is also evidence which suggests that these plants can assist people who have skin conditions like psoriasis.

Pollutants removed: formaldehyde

Can they remove toxins from bedroom air?

You can keep your home environment clean with the following picks for air purifying plants. To answer the question of whether plants can clean the bedroom air and remove toxins, the answer is YES, they can.

When looking for an air purifying plant for use in your house, there is a need to understand that different plants do better in different environments or rooms of the house.

For the bedroom, consider the Jewel of India. It is a large-leaved plant that is capable of tolerating low light conditions (natural lighting) and has been known to prefer areas that have very high temperatures.

It, therefore, is an ideal choice for use in a room that is dimly lit such as a warm bedroom or an attic.

Here’s an infographic summary:Best air purifying plants

Best bathroom plants for cleaning the air

The Golden Pothos is the go-to plant for those looking for a plant to clean their bathroom air. The plant has heart-shaped leaves that assist in filtering out formaldehyde.

It is a fast-growing plant that assists in purifying the air in areas that are frequently exposed to harsh chemicals used in cleaning. You can also place it in your garage as it is great for removing the toxic fumes which may be present in the room.

The Spider plant can also be placed in your bathroom. This particular plant is ideal for hanging planters. You can easily propagate it and can be used to deal with a wide range of pollutants including xylene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and benzene.  For it to grow, it requires moderate light and should be watered on a regular basis.

You could also consider adding the rubber plant in this area of the house. The rubber plant is also a low maintenance plant whose green leaves are very efficient in removing toxins and purifying the air. Do not let its looks fool you, as it is not hard to care for it. You will need to ensure that it receives moderate light and that it is watered regularly.

Air purifying plants for the bedroom

Here, you can opt for the Janet Craig. This plant prefers indirect lighting and is very easy to take care of.

It will also provide your bedroom with a splash of color. It is recommended that you allow its water to dry out completely before you can water it again. Additionally, be sure to apply fertilizer at least once each year.

You could also consider adding the ZZ plant. This is a plant that even if it is neglected, there is a high chance that the drought-resistant plant will still do fine. Additionally, this plant has been seen to thrive in areas or rooms that have very low lighting.

You should, however, ensure that you keep it as far away from children and pets as you can. Some of its parts are extremely poisonous hence the need to exercise caution.

The Snake Plant is another low maintenance plant that you can add to your bedroom. This is because it is not only recommended in the NASA list, but it also happens to be one of the few plants that are able to convert CO2 into oxygen at night.

It is, thus, an important addition as many plants are only able to do this during daylight hours. It is low maintenance as it requires low light levels and occasional watering.

How to choose the right indoor air cleaning plants

A little imagination can reveal a lot of space to place your houseplants regardless of how crowded the home may appear to be.

Great spots for best air purifying plants include bathroom corners, on your bookcase, on the piano, and even on top of your refrigerator.

Houseplants can help you bring a sense of the outdoors inside, assist you to decorate a room, add some style to the house, add some décor, and even help in removing contaminants and air pollutants from the residence.

The best thing about many of these plants is the fact that many are easy to maintain and care for, and do not require much effort,

All that is required is to ensure that they have access to some sunlight, moisture, plant food, and potting soil, and then leave them to thrive. For best results, it is recommended that you fill the pots with a potting mix that is less susceptible to gnats. Consider adding some plant food to ensure that they have all the nutrients they need to continue growing.

How do you choose the best air purifying plants?

Match your plants according to the available space

You need to take a critical look at your space before you can choose your preferred houseplant. When you have a small apartment or office, you may not have enough space to hold the Dracaena plant, but you could have enough space for an African violet.

This is a plant that is easy to maintain, produces colorful blooms and is very easy to maintain. Consider hanging a spider plant from the ceiling to assist with purifying the air.

Choose a plant based on the prevailing light conditions

If the room where you want to place the plant does not get enough sunlight, do not choose plants that require lots of light for them to grow. You should go with plants such as the pothos, snake plant, or the Chinese evergreen.

The peace lily is an ideal plant to consider having in your house. It will not only assist in purifying the air by removing the contaminants, but it will also not require a lot of light for it to start growing.

Seek inspiration

If you come across a plant you like when you are visiting a friend or relative, do not be shy to make inquiries. Ask what it is, where it was purchased, and what it needs for it to continue growing.

You could also make a visit to the local gardening center or nursery to obtain information on the best air purifying plants for indoor use. Additional resources like the internet can also be very helpful.

Alternatively, you could consult with a florist to get information on houseplants that will match what you are looking for, and where to get them.

Use the houseplants to decorate the house

You do not have to be stuck with green houseplants when there are so many other colors to choose from. Consider African violets, paperwhites, and cyclamen to add some color to your house during the early spring months and late winter months.

For great color, all year round, consider including the croton plant for its glorious shades of orange, yellow, and red. You have very many options to choose from to ensure that the house has a vibrant, and radiant color throughout the year.

Choose plants containers that are decorative

You can mix up your container materials, colors, shapes, and sizes. Consider using line wicker style pots, copper pots, and ceramic glazed pots. You could also use shelves and plant stands to add some color to the residence.

Is it safe to use such plants in the house?

Many houseplants have benefits that are immensely underappreciated. One of their most common benefits is the calming effect that they can have on a person. This is what makes them a great addition to your sleeping area.

Recent studies have indicated that coming into contact with the leaves of a houseplant can actually assist in calming down a person.

Therefore, even though there is no scientific evidence to indicate that houseplants can assist in increasing a person’s sleep quantity, they can assist in transforming the sleeping area into a Zen Den.

This is a transformation that would make it easier for you to fall asleep much faster, as well as stay asleep for longer durations.

But even though the plants do have remarkable benefits, not all of them are ideal for the home as some are poisonous to children and pets. These include:

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Plants that are not safe for pets and kids

  1. Lillies

The lily plant happens to be one of the most beautiful plants you can ever come across. However, they are also the most dangerous. Although not all the lilies are dangerous, many are, e.g., Easter lily, Asian lily, the daylily, and the calla lily.

The calla lily poses a danger to small children. It has been known to cause headaches, blurred vision, skin irritations, vomiting and stomach upsets.

For pets, cats tend to be the most susceptible to this plant. It can cause symptoms such as appetite loss, vomiting, and lethargy. Liver and kidney failure are also possible, with the resulting effect being death if not treated on time.

  1. Philodendron

These are very efficient when it comes to removing pollutants, e.g., formaldehyde from the environment. Additionally, they are very easy to look after, making them a favorite for many homeowners.

However, they tend to be quite poisonous as they contain oxalate crystals. The crystals are harmful to both pets and small children.

In many instances, they pose a mild danger to kids, including intestinal and mouth swelling, but they can be very dangerous where pets are concerned. They pose the greatest risk to cats compared to dogs. They have been known to cause swelling, pain, spasms, and seizures.

References

[1] The National Cancer Institute: Formaldehyde and Cancer Risk

[2] NASA Spinoff: Plants Clean Air and Water for Indoor Environments

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