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These 20 Air-Cleaning Plants Are So Much Chicer Than an Air Purifier

Rattan chairs and table filled with plants.

House of Chais

When you are aching for the springtime, it's likely that you'll want to bring a bit of wildlife into your home—and we're not talking about animal prints. According to a recent study published in the journal Environmental Health Toxicology, plants help to purify indoor air when gaseous pollutants from new furniture are high and ventilation is low. Plants can act as air purifiers when there are no spatial limitations.

These plants provide your home with fresh, clean air despite any weather enduring outside. We took cues from plant expert Heather Trilling, professional designer and landscaping contractor, to round up the best clean-air plants to add to your collection.

"Just by their very nature, plants generously emit oxygen into the atmosphere by way of photosynthesis, in short, by absorbing light energy from the sun and metabolizing it with oxygen being the byproduct," Trilling explains. "It’s really an incredible gift, and the fact we can bring some of that purifying energy into our own homes is pretty cool."

From overgrown ferns to sleek bamboo palms, you can take your pick of clean-air plants that not only look good but will keep you feeling great all year long.

Meet the Expert

Heather Trilling is a professional designer, landscaping contractor, and the principal of Trilling Landscape Design & Build with over 15 years of experience landscaping indoor and outdoor spaces.

01 of 20

Corn Plant

Corn plant and Chinese evergreen in a living room

JC Designs

  • Botanical Name: Dracaena fragrans
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6 to 6.5

The Dracaena fragrans house plant, otherwise known as the corn plant, is a great option if you're looking for a purifying statement plant that's low maintenance. In the right conditions, its long, woody stalks can grow up to 12 feet tall.

"It’s difficult to quantify exactly how much house plants can eliminate chemical toxins from the air, but what we do know is that the bigger and the leafier the plant, the better—like the corn plant," she says.

Like other dracaenas, it's known for its ability to clean the air. Even more appealing, it can adapt to low light and handles drought like a champ.

Hirt's Gardens Corn Plant - Dracaena $20.00
02 of 20

Peace Lily

Peace lily next to a doorway

Sara Toufali

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

A beautiful house plant that grows white flowers, the peace lily is well-known for its air-purifying abilities. It's thought to break down toxic gases like benzene, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide. If you've got very little in the way of natural light, these should be at the top of your list.

Peace lilies thrive even under fluorescent lighting, though they won't produce flowers this way. They are humidity lovers, so mist often or consider keeping it in your bathroom.

03 of 20

Boston Fern

Boston fern and other plants in home office space

House of Chais

  • Botanical Name: Nephrolepis exaltata
  • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Peat-based soil mix
  • Soil pH: 5.0 to 5.5

The Boston Fern is thought to be one of the best air purifying house plants, thanks to its ability to act as a natural humidifier and remove formaldehyde from the air.

If you're a first-time plant parent, ferns are probably not the best entry plant—they require nearly constant moisture and humidity. But, if you're willing to give it the attention it needs, the payoff is worth it: there are few plants as lush and elegant.

Boston ferns are non-toxic, so they're great options for pet owners. However, they do tend to shed a lot, so be prepared to clean up often.

Costa Farms Live Indoor Boston Fern $28.00
04 of 20

Fiddle-Leaf Fig

large fiddle-leaf fig in living room

Cathie Hong Interiors

  • Botanical Name: Ficus lyrata
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light, and some direct sun
  • Soil Type: Well-drained indoor potting mix
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 7.0

The ficus lyrata has been a very popular indoor plant in recent years, but it has more to offer than its visual appeal. Its large, waxy leaves are also efficient at purifying the air.

Be warned that these trendy showstoppers are known to be fickle—any minor change in light, water, or temperature can cause one to drop its leaves. Care for it appropriately, though, and you'll have a truly stunning plant that cleans the air in your home and looks good while doing it, too.

Small fiddle leaf fig plant in a grower's pot
Hirt's Gardens Fiddleleaf Fig Tree - Ficus $27.00
05 of 20

Snake Plant

Large snake plant in a basket next to a standing mirror in a living room

Modern House Vibes

  • Botanical Name: Sansevieria trifasciata
  • Sun Exposure: Low to moderate, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining cactus or succulent mix
  • Soil pH: 4.5 to 7.0

The snake plant has grown increasingly popular as a houseplant in recent years. And it's not surprising really, given it doesn't need much water to thrive and will do wonders for purifying the air in your home. It will also tolerate just about any lighting condition and is virtually impossible to kill.

"Not only is the snake plant architecturally interesting, but it’s also one of the best plants for filtering out formaldehyde, which is found in more common household products than we’d like to think," Trilling notes.

Snake plants can live in almost any environment and are great for anyone who doesn’t have much space, as it's more of an upright plant rather than a plant that needs tons of room to grow out. Its tall, wide leaves are known to absorb harmful VOCs and output plenty of oxygen, too.

Black coral snake plant in grower's pot
Burpee 'Black Coral' Snake Sansevieria trificiata $60.00
06 of 20

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera and other plants in colorful pots

baranova_ph / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Aloe barbadensis miller
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Cactus or succulent soil mix
  • Soil pH: 7.0 to 8.5

Though you've probably used aloe vera for its skin-healing sap, the plant itself is also known to remove formaldehyde from the air.

"Aloe vera is probably the most common succulent, and it is a mighty little plant, requiring very little water while still serving an abundance of oxygen—especially during the night—leading to more restful sleep," Trilling notes.

Aloe vera is pretty low maintenance—sit it in a sunny window and water only when the soil has completely dried out. It'll add a chic, Southwestern vibe to any room while cleaning the air you breathe. Make it happy enough and your aloe plant will even shoot out pups that can be potted as whole new plants.

07 of 20

Lucky Bamboo

Bamboo plant on a dining table


Daniela Duncan / Getty Images 

  • Botanical Name: Dracaena sanderiana
  • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 6.5

You've probably come across lucky bamboo many times in restaurants, offices, and elsewhere—it's one of the easiest houseplants to care for and has a long history in Chinese culture as a symbol of good fortune and prosperity.

Despite its name and appearance, lucky bamboo isn't related to true bamboo at all. As another member of the dracaena family, lucky bamboo acts as a natural humidifier while giving off serene vibes. It doesn't require soil to grow and can even be trained to grow in unique shapes.

Costa Farms Lucky Bamboo Live $34.00
08 of 20


Three pothos plants hanging in a southwestern dining room

Sara Toufali

  • Botanical Name: Epipremnum aureum
  • Sun Exposure: Low to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: All-purpose potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.1 to 6.5

Pothos, or devil's ivy, is another plant commonly known to have a knack for filtering out harmful toxins and improving air quality. It also acts as a natural humidifier, which can be especially helpful during drier months. But, the best part is that it's nearly indestructible and thrives on neglect.

Give pothos a little indirect light and water once every couple of weeks and it'll still grow vines endlessly—perfect for hanging planters or placing on high shelves.

Neon pothos in grower's pot
House Plant Shop Pothos 'Neon' $15.00
09 of 20

Madagascar Dragon Tree

Madagascar dragon tree in a living room corner

Dwell Aware

  • Botanical Name: Dracaena marginata
  • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full sun
  • Soil Type: Loamy, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 7.0

Another member of the dracaena family, this delicate plant is known to reduce levels of benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air. They also add an immediate tropical feel to any space given their resemblance to palm trees.

The Madagascar dragon tree does best in bright, indirect light, but will adapt to lower light conditions by growing slower. Water when the top inch or two of soil has dried out and cut back in colder months.

Costa Farms Dracaena Marginata Magenta Madagascar Dragon Tree $34.00
10 of 20

Spider Plant

Hanging spider plant and other plants next to a wood record player

Tracey Hairston

  • Botanical Name: Chlorophytum comosum
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-drained potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 7.2

Known to remove formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air, the spider plant would be a welcome addition to your home in any season. Add to that their uncanny ability to survive almost any lighting condition and drought, and it's hard to think of a reason not to have a spider plant in your collection.

If you treat it with lots of bright, indirect light and water once the soil has dried out, your plant will reward you with tiny flowers and baby plants that can be grown into whole new plants.

Hirt's Gardens Ocean Spider Plant $18.00
11 of 20

Rubber Tree

Rubber tree next to a modern tufted sofa

House of Chais

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

If you're looking for drama, look no further than the rubber tree with its dark, moody leaves and ability to grow several feet tall. As another member of the ficus family with large, air filtering leaves, rubber trees are much easier going than their cousin, the fiddle-leaf fig.

The rubber plant is easy to care for in a variety of conditions, and it purifies the air in a room with its dark green foliage. They prefer bright light but will tolerate lower light if necessary, and they like their soil to be kept evenly moist at all times—not too wet, not too dry. Avoid sudden environmental changes, as this could lead to leaf drop.

12 of 20

Chinese Evergreen

Chinese evergreen next to an entryway bench

JC Designs

  • Botanical Name: Aglaonema
  • Sun Exposure: Low to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 5.6 to 6.5

The Chinese evergreen has a striking appearance with its wide, bushy leaves that often come in vibrant colors. Beyond that, the Chinese evergreen releases a high level of oxygen into the air and has the ability to remove chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene, making it a healthy addition to any plant collection.

Though it will tolerate lower lighting conditions, this jungle plant prefers high humidity and consistently moist soil, so keep it watered and misted or sitting on a tray of pebbles filled with water.

Chinese evergreen plant in grower's pot
American Plant Exchange Aglaonema Chinese Evergreen Hot Pink Valentine Wishes $22.00
13 of 20

English Ivy

English ivy and other plants on styled office shelves

Cathie Hong Interiors

  • Botanical Name: Hedera helix
  • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Standard potting soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 to 6.5

The same English ivy that spreads itself over old buildings everywhere comes in indoor cultivars, too. And even better, this plant consistently ranks among the top at air filtration.

This trailing beauty can remove chemicals found in cigarette smoke from the air, along with other detergents and pesticides, and is often recommended for those with allergies or asthma. Get a houseplant-specific variety, protect it from direct sunlight, and keep its soil moist but not soggy for best growth.

Variegated English ivy in grower's pot
Hirt's Gardens Gold Child English Ivy $14.00
14 of 20

Jade Plant

Jade and assorted plants on a styled shelf

Sara Toufali

  • Botanical Name: Crassula ovata
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Cactus or succulent potting mix
  • Soil pH: 6.1 to 6.5

Jade has long been used for its medicinal properties and is a symbol of good luck and positive energy in many cultures. Beyond that, the plant itself is an expert air purifier and natural humidifier. As a fairly hardy succulent, jade prefers bright, indirect light and only needs watering once the soil has dried out completely.

"Jade plants are one of my favorites for a number of reasons," Trilling explains. "Unlike nearly every other common succulent, jade plants hold a ton of water in both their leaves and their stems, acting as natural humidifiers. They also exhibit evapotranspiration, which refers to water being transferred from the land—or a pot—into the atmosphere, and reduce airborne VOCs like toluene and acetone."

Jade plant in grower's pot
Hirt's Gardens Sunset Jade Plant - Crassula $13.00
15 of 20


Blooming bromeliad next to a bright window

Daniela Duncan / Getty Images

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

The bromeliad is another colorful option for infusing your space with tropical vibes. In their natural environment, bromeliads grow between rocks and in tree branches, absorbing nutrients from around them through their leaves. This makes them experts at filtering harmful toxins from the air when grown indoors.

Make sure they have plenty of bright, indirect light and water them through the central cup at their base instead of through the soil to avoid root rot. When they're happy, bromeliads will shoot up a central flower spike in a brilliant color.

Blooming bromeliad in grower's pot
Costa Farms Live Bromeliad $24.00
16 of 20

Bamboo Palm

Large palm in a boho seating nook


  • Botanical Name: Dypsis lutescens 
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect sun to full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining cactus and palm soil
  • Soil pH: 6.1 to 6.5

There really is no better way to bring the tropics indoors than with a palm. Though a bit more temperamental than its cousin the parlor palm, the bamboo palm ranks among the best plants for filtering toxins like benzene and formaldehyde out of the air.

Give your palm plenty of bright light, moist soil, and fertilizer during warmer months, and they may eventually grow as high as your ceiling will let them.

Majesty palm in grower's pot
Costa Farms Majesty Palm Live $40.00
17 of 20


heartleaf philodendron on a buffet in a dining room

Modern House Vibes

  • Botanical Name: Philodendron
  • Sun Exposure: Low to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Peat moss-based potting mix
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 7.0

Philodendrons come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from the vine-y heartleaf to the striking split-leaf, but most are known for filtering the air from harmful VOCs.

The best part about philodendron plants, though, is their ability to adapt. They will tolerate and often thrive in both lower light conditions and handle drought with ease. Trailing varieties look great from a hanging planter, too.

Like pothos, philodendrons are very simple to propagate. Trim a stem that includes a few leaf nodes, root it in a glass of water for a few weeks, then plant it in soil.

Heartleaf philodendron in grower's pot
Hirt's Gardens Heart Leaf Philodendron $13.00
18 of 20

Weeping Fig

Weeping fig in a modern entryway

Coco Lapine Design

  • Botanical Name: Ficus benjamina
  • Sun Exposure: Low to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Rich, fast-draining potting mix
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 6.5

The weeping fig is another ficus that is widely known for its air-filtering prowess. You can find them in various sizes and variegations, so they're quite adaptable.

"Weeping figs are said to filter VOCs—such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene—that are often found in upholstery and other soft furnishings," Trilling says. "Aesthetically speaking, they lend a wonderfully dramatic look and beautifully anchor a room."

Unlike many tropical trees, weeping figs will tolerate most lighting situations including low light, but they do need constant moisture and high humidity. Consider placing yours in a bathroom or near a humidifier with your other tropical plants.

Ficus benjamina tree in grower's pot
Brighter Blooms Benjamina Ficus Tree $80.00
19 of 20

Prayer Plants

Maranta plant in gray pot

Firn / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Marantaceae
  • Sun Exposure: Low to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-drained
  • Soil pH: 5.5 to 6.0

The prayer plant family encompasses a variety of colorful specimen, including the popular maranta and calatheas species. If you have limited space, prayer plants are a great option that won't get much taller than 12 inches. Their eye-catching leaves also filter out harmful chemicals, though perhaps not as efficiently as plants with larger leaves.

They are true jungle plants, though, and require high humidity, evenly moist soil, and low to bright indirect light, making them another great bathroom addition.

Rattlesnake calathea in grower's pot
California Tropicals Calathea Rattlesnake Lancifolia $25.00
20 of 20

Asparagus Fern

Asparagus fern in a terra cotta pot on a coffee table

Dwell Aware

  • Botanical Name: Asparagus aethiopicus
  • Sun Exposure: Low to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.5 to 6.8

The delicate-looking asparagus fern, also known as Sprenger's asparagus, is hardier than it might seem. That's because it's not a true fern at all and is actually a member of the Lily family.

Its characteristic feathery leaves are pros at purifying the air of benzene, toluene, octane, and other harmful toxins. Keep them away from direct sunlight though, as they'll scorch quickly. As far as hydration goes, asparagus ferns prefer to be kept moist through at least weekly watering and frequent misting.

Asparagus fern in grower's pot
JM Bamboo Plumosus Asparagus Fern $14.00
Article Sources
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  1. Hong SH, Hong J, Yu J, Lim Y. Study of the Removal Difference in Indoor Particulate Matter and Volatile Organic Compounds Through the Application of PlantsEnviron Health Toxicol. 2017;32:e2017006. doi:10.5620/eht.e2017006