Household plants: do they detox the air?


Indoor Plants

As fall getting into its power and with winter just around the corner, no doubt many people keep their windows and doors closed. Every window sill in my house has some plants on it. From violets, begonias, and orchid I like to enjoy and watch my plants blooming even in winter. When it got colder outside, I even replanted my geraniums into a smaller pot and brought them indoors. Interestingly, I came over a research that was done by scientists at NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) on how plants purify air and balance indoor humidity. Some of them are definitely top performers and I listed them in the chart below.

Did you know that indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air? It’s actually not surprising when you think that just about everything in our homes from the paint on our wall, carpet under the feet, products we clean our home with contain toxic chemicals that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs)  like benzene and formaldehyde into the air we breathe.

Plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, they filter toxins as well and turn them into plant food. They even emit mold inhibitors from their leaves and add humidity to the air, helping combat respiratory problems and allergies. That’s so amazing what Mother Nature gives us. Plants don’t require electricity to do their job and they add unique style to your home decor.

Let’s look at the chart of a few of these beneficial types of houseplants that can take care of indoor pollution.

Plant Name Key Features
 Areca palm Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens) This very sensitive plant with feathery fronds is best known as a humidifier. Though the plant grows slowly and needs year-round care, it can be kept anywhere in the house, especially next to newly varnished furniture or in carpeted areas. The areca palm helps remove deadly toxins like formaldehyde and xylene.
 Boston Fern Boston Fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata bostoniensis) An exotic plant that has gracefully arching fronds and frilly leaves, the Boston fern also acts as a natural humidifier. Boston ferns grow better in filtered sunlight and in humid conditions. By releasing moisture into the air, they remove nasty air pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde and xylene, providing clean air inside the home. The Boston fern will also eliminate heavy metals, such as mercury and arsenic from the soil.
  Dracaena (Dracaena marginata) Dracaena comes in different shapes, sizes and colours. It is a famously slow-growing flowering houseplant with very few growing requirements. It is particulary effective at removing trichloroethylene. However, proper care should be taken while placing the plant inside, as it could be poisonous to dogs.
  English Ivy (Hedera helix) Despite its poisonous leaves, English Ivy is a very popular houseplant and is best suited for people with asthma and allergic conditions. The study shows that sixty percent of air based mold within the space was removed after just six hrs right after English Ivy had been introduced. Easy to grow in bright sunlight, this plant has the amazing ability to remove benzene and formaldehyde and to off-gas various chemicals released by synthetic materials. Thus, it keeps the inside air non-toxic. With its ground-covering quality, English Ivy also often serves well in landscaping.
  Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) It is known to reduce harmful indoor toxins that may cause cancer. An easy-to-care-for houseplant, the Peace Lily is a great pollution fighter and air-purifier. It helps in removing benzene and formaldehyde present in the house.
  Philodendron It is very effective in filtering high concentrations of formaldehyde and requires little attention. They make great climbing and hanging plants.
  Rubber Plant The Rubber house plant provides moisture, eliminates bio effluents, takes away volatile organic compounds. It also suppresses air based microorganisms as soon as it’s put into a room.
  Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) A beautiful houseplant with long grassy leaves, the spider plant also grows rapidly. This elegant plant is great at removing poisonous gases as well as other impurities like formaldehyde and xylene. For better effect, it should be kept in the kitchen or near the fireplace, as these are the places where carbon monoxide accumulates a lot. For example, in a room with many spider plants the amount of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide dropped to near zero after only 24 hours.
  Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) Widely used as an ornamental plant, the Snake Plant is an evergreen perennial species that is tolerant of irregular watering and less lightning. Scientists at NASA have found out that this plant has the amazing ability to absorb formaldehyde, nitrogen oxides, and a variety of other chemicals present in the air. It is great in bedrooms as it produces oxygen at night.

Aren’t these plants amazing? I am definitely getting some of them for my home.



Air-filtering plants – check for pet safety:;

NASA Indoor Plant research:;

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