Plants bring a new dimension of liveliness into the home, varying in their beauty, adding much-needed color, and interplaying beautifully with the surrounding décor. However, plants do more than vivify your home. The best indoor plants are also incredible agents for expelling chemical pollutants.
The number of chemicals in our homes produced by household cleaners, paint, rubber, adhesives—you name it—is more ubiquitous than you may think. In point of fact, our places of residence are filled with chemicals that we usually don't give a second thought. The most common of these chemicals, formaldehyde is commonly found in household products and building supplies, benzene is in plastics and resins, and trichloroethylene can be seen in adhesives.
Plants add balance to the manmade products in your home, but seven air-purifying plants in particular clear chemical agents with amazing effectiveness. Keep reading for the best indoor plants for clean air.
Aloe vera is a pretty magical little plant, and its medicinal properties are well known 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 your home, aloe vera is particularly adept.
Environmental scientist B.C. Wolverton's How to Grow Fresh Air names ferns as another great plant for removing formaldehyde from the home. On top of that, they are resilient plants that require little attention; indirect sunlight is best, and they can be watered just enough to keep the soil moist. Ferns also are nontoxic, making them some of the best indoor plants for pet owners.
Looking for the best indoor plant for clean air that will also add a splash of color? Bromeliads are a fantastic option. A study on volatile organic compounds showed that bromeliads were effective in removing six different chemicals, including acetone and benzene. Not only that, in that same study, the bromeliad managed to clear 80% of pollutants in a 12-hour period.
Dracaena is a tall, vivid plant—a great statement-making option for your home, characterized by the vibrant red stripes that mark the leaves' edges. When it comes to purifying, dracaena is particularly skilled at removing common toxins. It is also a low-maintenance plant, surviving in low light and needing water only when the soil starts to feel dry.
There are plenty of reasons to love English ivy, including that it is an easy plant to take care of—just provide a bright room and water when the soil gets dry. But English ivy also tops NASA's list as the most effective plant for removing benzene from the home, while also efficiently removing formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and other pollutants.
Don't underestimate the purifying powers of the palm. This plant topped NASA's list for being the most effective at removing formaldehyde. The bamboo palm in particular is adept at giving your home a little bit of fresh air.
Palm is a nontoxic option for pet owners.
Peace lilies not only make for elegant additions to your home but are also some of the best indoor plants for clean air, even removing chemicals like ammonia. They are also very hardy plants, so peace lilies are a great intro to plant care if you're still unsure about your green thumb.
Need to know more easy-to-manage indoor plants? Read our list of some of the best indoor plants out there that are also low-maintenance.
Facts About Formaldehyde. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. May 15, 2020.
Toxic Substances Portal. Benzene. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. March 3, 2011.
Toxic Substances Portal. Trichloroethylene (TCE). Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. March 3, 2011.
Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement. NASA. September 15, 1989.
Growing Ferns Successfully Indoors. University of Vermont Extension. Department of Plant and Soil Science. n.d.
Boston Fern. ASPCA. 2020.
Selecting the Right House Plant Could Improve Indoor Air (Animation). American Chemical Society. August 24, 2016.
Bamboo Palm. ASPCA. 2020.
Chauhan P, Rawat MS, Gauba P. Role of Plants in Indoor Air Remediation. Int J Eng Tech Sci Res. 2017;4(9):749-756.