The Best Indoor Plants to Clear the Air, Literally

best indoor plants

Heidi's Bridge

Whether they're adding a pop of color, trailing from hanging planters, or creating a lush, green space, plants bring a new dimension of liveliness to the home. But some species of houseplants do more than complementing your décor: They can even act as agents for expelling chemical pollutants and cleaning the air.

The number of chemicals in our homes produced by household cleaners, paint, rubber, adhesives—you name it—is more ubiquitous than you may think. Our residences are often filled with chemicals that we don't give a second thought. A few common types like formaldehyde (found in household products and building supplies), benzene (in plastics and resins), and trichloroethylene (in adhesives), may make their way into the air. Greenery can add balance, and these air-purifying indoor plants are known for clearing chemical agents with effectiveness.

Read on to learn about the best indoor plants for clean air.

01 of 10

Aloe Vera

GETTY IMAGES/CARLINA TETERIS

GETTY IMAGES/CARLINA TETERIS

  • Botanical Name: Aloe barbadensis miller
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining succulent or cacti soil
  • Soil pH: 7.0 to 8.5

Aloe vera is known for several health benefits, and its medicinal properties are revered for treating minor cuts and burns. But there's another function to add to aloe vera's already impressive skills: Air purifier. When it comes to clearing formaldehyde from the air in your home, aloe vera is particularly adept. While it takes in carbon dioxide to fill your home with fresh oxygen, your aloe plant also absorbs dust and other pollutants to keep you breathing well.

Bloomscape
Bloomscape Hedgehog Aloe $35
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02 of 10

Fern

GETTY IMAGES/GABRIELA TULIAN

GETTY IMAGES/GABRIELA TULIAN

  • Botanical Name: Nephrolepis obliterata
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light or shade
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.1 to 6.5

Environmental scientist B.C. Wolverton's How to Grow Fresh Air names ferns as a great plant for removing formaldehyde from the home. On top of their air-cleaning properties, ferns are also resilient plants that require little attention, which makes them a common favorite among beginner gardeners. To care for your fern, it's best to place it in a spot with indirect sunlight, as ferns grow under shaded trees in their natural environment. It can be watered just often enough to keep the soil moist. Ferns also are non-toxic, making them one of the best indoor plant species for pet owners.

Bloomscape
Bloomscape Kimberly Queen Fern $65
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03 of 10

Bromeliad

GETTY IMAGES/DANIELA DUNCAN

GETTY IMAGES/DANIELA DUNCAN

  • Botanical Name: Bromeliaceae
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting mix or soilless mix
  • Soil pH: 4.0 to 7.0

Searching for a plant to clean the air that also adds a splash of color to your space? Look no further than the bromeliad: A tropical epiphyte that grows on the branches of rainforest trees. A study on volatile organic compounds showed that bromeliads were effective in removing six different chemicals from the air, including acetone and benzene. In the study, the bromeliad managed to clear 80 percent of pollutants in a 12-hour period. Since these plants release fresh oxygen and clean the air at night, bromeliads are a great option for planting near a window in your bedroom.

Bloomscape
Bloomscape Bromeliad Aechma Pink $65
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04 of 10

Dragon Tree

GETTY IMAGES/NATURE, FOOD, LANDSCAPE, TRAVEL

GETTY IMAGES/NATURE, FOOD, LANDSCAPE, TRAVEL

  • Botanical Name: Dracaena draco
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Loamy, well-draining soil with peat moss
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 6.5

Formaldehyde, xylene, and trichloroethylene are all common pollutants that dragon trees remove from the air. Also known as dracaena, the dragon tree is a tall, vivid plant—a great statement-maker for your home, characterized by its vibrant red stripes that mark the leaves' edges. This low-maintenance houseplant survives in low light, and needs water only when the soil starts to feel dry.

Bloomscape
Bloomscape Dracaena Marginata Open Weave $195
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05 of 10

English Ivy

GETTY IMAGES/VICTORIABEE

GETTY IMAGES/VICTORIABEE

  • Botanical Name: Hedera helix
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light or shade
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 to 6.5

There are plenty of reasons to love air-purifying English ivy, including its easy plant care qualities—just plant it in a bright area in your home, and water your ivy when the soil feels dry. While you'll often find this species growing outdoors on a trellis, climbing up a fence, or hanging in gardens, your English ivy may be better suited to indoor life to keep your home filled with fresh air.

Home Depot
Home Depot Lively Root English Ivy $37
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06 of 10

Parlor Palm

GETTY IMAGES/DROPSTOCK

GETTY IMAGES/DROPSTOCK

  • Botanical Name: Chamaedorea elegans
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light or shade
  • Soil Type: Well-draining succulent or cacti soil
  • Soil pH: 5.1 to 7.5

Don't underestimate the purifying powers of the palm. As one of the most effective plants for removing formaldehyde from the air, palm trees are also a favorite among gardeners for their resilient qualities. While many species in the palm family are revered for bringing fresh air to indoor spaces, variants like the parlor palm and bamboo palm are particularly adept at cleaning pollutants while releasing oxygen.

Palms are also non-toxic to pets, so they're a great choice to keep four-legged family members safe while cleaning the air.

Bloomscape
Bloomscape Parlor Palm $65
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07 of 10

Peace Lily

GETTY IMAGES/CHARLIE NOWLAN

GETTY IMAGES/CHARLIE NOWLAN

  • Botanical Name: Spathiphyllum
  • Sun Exposure: Indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 5.0 to 6.5

Peace lilies not only make elegant additions to your home, but these plants are also some of the best indoor plants for clean air. Your peace lily can remove common pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene, and it even clears chemicals like ammonia. Since this species is known for being hardy, peace lilies are also a great introduction to plant care if you're still feeling unsure about your green thumb.

Home Depot
Home Depot Costa Farms Peace Lily $47
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08 of 10

Spider Plant

GETTY IMAGES/SAMMY JONES

GETTY IMAGES/SAMMY JONES

  • Botanical Name: Chlorophytum comosum
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light or full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 7.0

Another favorite among new gardeners, the spider plant is an easy-growing houseplant that adds a touch of lush, trailing greenery to indoor spaces. This species is effective at clearing trichloroethylene and formaldehyde from the air—and it's also simple to propagate. To create new air-cleaning plants from your spider plant, trim its offsets and plant them in a new pot filled with fresh soil. Your new spider plants will begin to make fresher air as they grow to maturity.

Home Depot
Home Depot National Plant Network Spider Plant $41
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09 of 10

Snake Plant

GETTY IMAGES/AIDA MARTINEZ

GETTY IMAGES/AIDA MARTINEZ

  • Botanical Name: Sansevieria trifasciata
  • Sun Exposure: Indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining succulent or cacti soil
  • Soil pH: 4.5 to 7.0

Another great choice to filter the air at night is the snake plant. Like bromeliads, snake plants release fresh oxygen even in the absence of sunlight—so this species can create healthier air while you sleep. To keep your snake plant growing strong, be sure to plant it in succulent or cactus soil (rather than standard potting soil) to ensure proper drainage in its pot. Snake plants also filter formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and other pollutants from the air while adding a boost of oxygen to your space.

Bloomscape
Bloomscape Sansevieria $150
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10 of 10

Rubber Tree

GETTY IMAGES/ELENA GRISHINA

GETTY IMAGES/ELENA GRISHINA

  • Botanical Name: Ficus elastica
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting mix
  • Soil pH: 5.5 to 7.0

In addition to cleaning formaldehyde from the air in your home, your rubber tree can also fight mold and other bacterias. Airborne toxins like mold spores are absorbed by your plant, which filters them to release oxygen back into its space. Be sure to monitor your rubber tree's water levels by ensuring the soil stays moist without gathering excess water. It's also helpful to clean your plant's leaves when they collect dust—help your rubber tree stay open to the air so it can release the most oxygen.

Bloomscape
Bloomscape Burgundy Rubber Tree $150
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Article Sources
MyDomaine uses only high-quality, trusted sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Facts About Formaldehyde. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. May 15, 2020.

  2. Benzene. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. February 10, 2021.

  3. Trichloroethylene (TCE). Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. February 10, 2021.

  4. Boston Fern. ASPCA.

  5. Selecting the Right House Plant Could Improve Indoor Air (Animation). American Chemical Society. August 24, 2016.

  6. 10 Houseplants That Improve Your Indoor Air Quality. Allergy and Air. January 10, 2014 

  7. Claudio L. Planting Healthier Indoor AirEnviron Health Perspect. 2011;119(10):A426-A427. doi:10.1289/ehp.119-a426

  8. Bamboo Palm. ASPCA.

  9. Chauhan P, Rawat MS, Gauba P. Role of Plants in Indoor Air Remediation. Int J Eng Tech Sci Res. 2017;4(9):749-756.

  10. Snake Plants Boosts Oxygen For Better Sleep. Surfside Guardian. February 20, 2017.

  11. 15 Air-Purifying Plants to Cleanse Your Space of Chemicals and Toxins. Architectural Digest. July 6, 2020.

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