In 1989, NASA published the results of a study conducted to determine the ability of common household plants to clean the air and remove VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from the air. The study was performed by putting the plants in a sealed chamber and pumping in the chemicals formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, benzene, and trichloroethylene. The results showed that the plants were very effective in removing a large percentage of the chemicals from the air within 24 hrs. Some even removed up to 90% of these toxic pollutants. These harmful pollutants may be living in your home as they are trapped indoors from a variety of products. VOCs may be emitted from products like air fresheners, craft supplies, paint, beauty products, and chemical-based household cleaners. See the list at the end of this post.
The #1 way to keep these VOCs out of your indoor air is to reduce or eliminate the use of products that emit them. Eliminating chemical-based cleaning products is a good start. You can find many amazing recipes in this blog for homemade, natural, free of VOCs cleaning products. These recipes are easy to make and are very effective. Check them out after reading this post.
Adding indoor plants to your home has many great benefits. They can purify your air, enhance your home décor, brighten up a room, and even lift your mood. Plants are often used in holistic therapy because of their calming effect and ability to reduce stress. Studies show that caring for plants or walking through gardens is very calming and provides instant feelings of happiness.
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Best Indoor Plants To Purify The Air
The best plants are the ones that are the most effective at purifying the air and easy to care for. I compiled a list of the best plants tested by NASA that have the ability to purify the air, are easy to care for, are favored by decorators, and are pet-friendly! Some of the plants tested in the NASA Study are toxic to pets. When shopping for plants, make sure to check the list compiled by the ASPCA. There you can find lists of toxic and non-toxic plants.
Best Pet-Friendly Indoor Plants To Decorate and Purify Your Air | Non-Toxic Indoor Plants
These are my favorite pet friendly, air-purifying plants. I chose these because they are easy to care for and elegant. Bring nature indoors and make your home beautiful!
1. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)
This beautiful tropical plant will give your home a fresh look. It is a fairly large plant that has the ability to reduce benzene, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, and xylene from the air. These pollutants are irritants and may cause dizziness and headaches. These plants also have the ability to bring back moisture into your home. They like bright light but not direct sunlight. Water them adequately by keeping the soil moist.
2. Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)
This is another beautiful tropical plant that can purify your air and add a beautiful finishing touch to your home décor. It may reduce all the same pollutants as the bamboo palm plus ammonia (commonly found in glass cleaner and hair colorants). This is a hardy plant that needs very little care. It loves shade. Water only when topsoil is dry, overwatering may cause root rot.
3. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
This is an excellent choice for every home; big or small spaces. It is gorgeous and has the same power of purifying formaldehyde and xylene as the Bamboo Palm. And Just like the Bamboo Palm, it brings back moisture into the air. They are relatively easy to care for. They prefer shade, indirect light, and moist soil. Water them when the topsoil feels dry to the touch.
4. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
This is one of the easiest plants to take of care. It is very resilient and even grows shoots called “spiderettes” that you can transplant to grow new plants. NASA’s study found this plant to be very effective at getting rid of formaldehyde from air. It may also remove carbon monoxide and xylene. This plant is really cool looking and prefers bright indirect sunlight and humid environments. Often recommended for bathrooms or kitchens. Water it a few times a week.
5. Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
If you like a splash of color, this one is the perfect addition to your home to purify your air. It has the ability to produce high levels of oxygen at night so you might want to add this one to your bedroom. It may remove the harmful chemicals benzene and trichloroethylene. It is a bit harder to care for than the others, since they prefer bright sunlight and the soil to be kept moist. Perfect near windows.
6. LilyTurf (Liriope spicata)
This beautiful, flowering plant is most often seen outdoors bordering sidewalks. But, they do very well indoors and have the ability to clean the air of trichloroethylene, xylene, and ammonia. I find the lavender colored flowers to be very calming. This plant needs indirect sunlight. Keep the soil moist.
Best Indoor Plants To Decorate and Purify Your Air
The list below contains gorgeous, air-purifying plants. But they are toxic to cats and dogs. If you have pets, it is best to choose from the list above.
1. Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
I love this one. It is so versatile for decorating. It is also one of the most recommended plants to keep in your bedroom because it releases oxygen during the night. This plant may purify the air by removing formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, and trichloroethylene from the air. It is a hard to kill plant since it prefers drier conditions with indirect sunlight. Perfect for your bedroom and other dark spaces.
2. English Ivy ( Hedera helix)
I chose this one for the list because of its uniquely shaped leaves and its ability to remove toxins like xylene, benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and ammonia. All are commonly found in a lot of salon products. A great addition to any salon or your bathroom! It is especially great for the bathroom because it is said to help remove mold. Keep the soil moist and give it a few hours of direct sunlight a day.
3. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
I love this one. I actually have one at home in a tall planter my doggie can’t reach. I love the rich green leaves and the elegance of the long stemmed white flowers. The peace lily is one of the top plants for cleaning the air and it has a high transpiration rate. It returns moisture back into the room reducing dust in the air. The NASA study placed this one at the top of the list. It was found to be one of the most effective to remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, ammonia, xylene, toluene and several other known pollutants. It is easy to care for. It loves shade and a weekly pour of water. That is it! I’ve had mine for years.
4. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)
This is a very common houseplant. It is beautiful and adds a calming and sophisticated effect to your home décor. It will produce blooms and red berries even in low light. It emits a high oxygen content while cleaning the air of benzene and formaldehyde. It is very easy to care for. It likes shade and less frequent water. Add water when top one inch is dry and mist the leaves if the air is dry.
5. Red-edged Dracaena (Dracaena marginata)
This tall elegant plant is efficient in removing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene. The leaves have a bright red trim which adds a flash of color to your home. This is a slow-growing plant but has the potential to grow up to 8 feet tall. They like bright indirect sunlight and little water. Let the top 50% of the soil dry out before rewatering. Ideal for forgetful owners or travelers.
6. Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)
This one is considered one of the most effective indoor air purifiers from benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene. It is very versatile for decorating. You can also just let it hang. This is the perfect houseplant for beginners because it is very hard to kill. They need very little water, shade, and indirect sunlight.
My Take – House Plants Are Awsome!
Don’t feel restricted to go with one of these. The NASA study was conducted using the most common houseplants; not all plants were tested. Any plant is better than no plant at all. You may breathe better, be happier, and your home will be more beautiful! Keep reading below if you want to learn more about the most common air pollutants found indoors and the impact they have on your health.
In case you are wondering, why did NASA study plants?
The NASA Clean Air Study was a project led by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in association with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) to research ways to clean the air in space stations.
Common Indoor Air Pollutants Found in Homes
Trichloroethylene – Found in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, adhesives, and paint removers. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure include excitement, dizziness, headache, nausea, and vomiting followed by drowsiness and coma.
Formaldehyde – Found in paper bags, waxed papers, facial tissues, paper towels, plywood paneling, and synthetic fabrics. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure include irritation to the nose, mouth, and throat, and in severe cases, swelling of the larynx and lungs.
Benzene – Used to make plastics, resins, lubricants, detergents, and drugs and found in tobacco smoke, glue, and furniture wax. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure include irritation to the eyes, drowsiness, dizziness, headache, increased heart rate, confusion, and in some cases can result in unconsciousness.
Xylene – Found in rubber, leather, tobacco smoke, and vehicle exhaust. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure include irritation to the mouth and throat, dizziness, headache, confusion, heart problems, liver and kidney damage, and coma.
Ammonia – Found in window cleaners, floor waxes, smelling salts, and fertilizers. Symptoms associated with short-term exposure include eye irritation, coughing, sore throat