Houseplants as air purifiers

Houseplants are making a comeback for various reasons including the aesthetic appeal. Based on the bit of research done for this article, there seems a more important reason to add greenery to the indoors: the removal of harmful toxins we breathe in. Besides air purification plants have also been shown to increase mood and productivity, enhance concentration and memory and to reduce stress and fatigue.

NASA has a list of houseplants that will clean the air of toxins released in our homes, workplaces and public places (hospitals), etc.

To begin with, the following are some toxins released in our homes and some of the products they are found in:

Formaldehydecan be found in air fresheners, cleaning products with terpenes, paper towels, cigarettes and e-cigarettes, vehicle exhaust, clothes and bedding, pillows, upholstery and fabrics, skin care products, nail polish and remover, toothpastes, perfume, baby wipes, new furniture….

Benzene found in paints, lacquers, solvents, gasoline, glues, furniture wax, detergents, thinners, paraffin candles, dryer sheets, markers, carpets, baby wipes…

Xylene found in aerosol paints, agricultural chemicals, caulks, epoxy glues, pesticides, insecticides…

Ammonia found in window cleaners, floor waxes, smelling salts, fertilizers….

Trichlororothylene found in paints, varnish, printing inks, varnish, adhesives, paint removers….

These few of several toxins are absorbed through breathing and through our skin and can result in disease and /or allergies and other ailments.

NASA lists the following as the top best easy to care for houseplants as air cleaners to remove toxins and recommends placing 1 plant per 100 square feet or approximately 1 plant per room:

  1. Aloe Vera, besides the healing aspects of the gel found inside the foliage, these plants are great for absorbing toxins. In fact, if brown spots appear on the foliage is a sign that toxins have been taken in. These like the sun.
  2. English Ivy is voted by NASA as the best easy to grow air filter of formaldehyde. It also needs some sunlight to grow.
  3. Rubber Tree is a powerful toxin eliminator and air purifier that grows under dim light conditions.
  4. Peace Lily is tested and known to reduce carbon dioxide and release oxygen and can grow in shady cool conditions.
  5. Snake Plant also absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen and requires very little care not much light or water.
  6. Bamboo Palm Tree was rated 8.4 on a scale for air purifiers and can remove benzene toxins for one. These palms need shade or indirect light.
  7. Philodendrons absorb xylene and require some sunlight.
  8. Spider plants are very good plants to absorb benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and carbon dioxide gas.
  9. Boston Ferns are supposed to be ranked highest for formaldehyde removal, however these plants are finicky requiring more humidity and misting and overall care.

There are other plants not listed that may be toxic to pets and children.

The NASA study was conducted in 1989 and has stood over time using house plants to absorb toxins released in our homes from various sources. It may be worth one’s effort to pick up some of these plants to contribute to better health and well being.  Indoor gardening could very well reduce sickness and improve peoples state of mind and emotional well being.

Happy Indoor Gardening!


For more ideas ask your local garden center professionals and make sure you follow us on FacebookTwitter,YouTubeInstagram and Pinterest for other tips and hints.


 Guest post by Darlene - Bylands Account Representative

I grew up on a farm near Lloydminster and also grew up learning to garden. For some reason pulling weeds from around vegetables and flowers was a source of solace and accomplishment. I was a single mom by the time I attended Olds College to pursue a career in Horticulture and Floriculture. Nature and hands on work, including at Bylands, has been the best school for learning ever since.  Love to travel and always want to live a healthier lifestyle. Plants, people and Nature continue to play a big role in that. I love attending Oilers games with my nephew.