Indoor air pollution can easily be tackled with houseplants. Here are some of the most stylish indoor plants that clean the air and improve air quality in your home.
Do you like a clean home? Chances are, if you’ve found yourself here, you do. However, there’s more to a clean home than vacuuming or dusting.
Even if you keep a clean home, you are still being exposed to these pollutants. How?
Consider this: indoor air pollution can negatively impact your health. According to recent studies performed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its Science Advisory Board, indoor levels of pollutants can be two to five times (and sometimes even more than 100x) higher than outdoor levels. (source)
One easy and eco-friendly way to clean indoor air? Houseplants!
According to a NASA study, there are several houseplants that help filter common indoor air pollutants. The recommended number of plants for a 1,800 square foot home would be 15-18 houseplants; or 3-4 plants per room.
In a nutshell, our biology class taught us that we breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. On the flip side, plants breathe in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. Some plants take this a step further and can even eliminate toxins and dangerous chemicals from indoor air!
You can read the entire NASA study here: Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement.
It’s a beautiful symbiotic relationship and makes a strong argument for having plants indoors. Besides, they also help elevate your home decor. (And people are amazed that my plants are real. Just sayin’).
Indoor Air Pollutants
Indoor pollution in the typical home comes mainly from household cleaning products, air fresheners, carpeting, furniture varnishes and glues, building materials, and fabrics treated with fire retardants. Admittedly, this wasn’t something I thought about during our kitchen renovation.
These are the five most toxic chemicals found inside homes:
1. Trichloroethylene: found in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, adhesives and paint remover/stripper.
2. Formaldehyde: found in building materials such as OSB, plywood, MDF, and particle board, paper grocery bags, waxed papers, facial tissues, and paper towels, cigarette smoke, and cooking fuels such as natural gas and kerosene.
3. Benzene: used to make plastics, resins, synthetic fibers, rubber lubricants, dyes, detergents, and pesticides. Can also be found in tobacco smoke, vehicle exhausts, glue, paint and furniture wax.
4. Xylene: found in printing, paint, tobacco smoke, conventional nail polishes, and vehicle exhausts.
5. Ammonia: found in window cleaners, floor waxes, smelling salts, and fertilizers.
The NASA paper lists all of the unhealthy side effects of these toxic chemicals. All of these household components release toxic chemicals that create an unhealthy air quality. Luckily, there are simple ways to reduce indoor pollutants to have a healthier home.
Houseplants that help clean indoor air
1. Snake Plant (sansevieria trifasciata)
Also called “mother in law tongue,” you’ve probably seen the snake plant in upscale offices and commercial centers. Its clean lines (it also comes in a few color + variegated patterns) lend well to chic interiors. I used to think it was ugly, but now that I know that it eliminates benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene…I want one in every room!
The snake plant is efficient at producing oxygen, so it’s especially recommended for bedrooms. Shop snake plant varieties.
2. Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree (ficus lyrata)
Because it has broad leaves (hence the name fiddle leaf) it is a powerhouse at purifying air and providing lots of oxygen. It also helps control humidity. You see them a lot in interior design because they’re so pretty. It’s excellent at removing formaldehyde and xylene.
Only water your fiddle leaf fig once a week (or even every other week) to keep it happy. They do not like soggy soil, and I’ve seen so many of these guys bite the dust on social media because of over-watering. Shop fiddle leaf figs.
3. Red-Edged Dracaena (dracaena marginata)
The red on the outer edges of the leaves is very subtle, and they also look like they belong in the palm family. So if you like palms but are short on space, the dracaena is perfect! This plant removes benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene. Shop red-edged dracaena.
4. Peace Lily (spathiphyllum)
This pretty plant is known for its ability to neutralize toxic cleaning product VOCs—like ammonia—and also for its high transpiration rate, which makes it an all-natural humidifier. They’re powerful at purifying the air from benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, xylene, and ammonia. Shop peace lily.
5. Areca Palm (dypsis lutescens)
This absolutely gorgeous tropical plant not long looks amazing in any room, but it’s also an air cleaning powerhouse. The Areca palm purifies the air from benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene. Shop Areca palm.
6. Golden Pothos (epipremnum aureum)
Golden pothos is also called devil’s ivy. It flourishes in a variety of conditions and can grow up to 8 feet long. It’s also considered one of the most effective indoor air purifiers for removing formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene. Shop golden pothos.
7. Split Leaf Philondendron (montsera deliciosa)
There are so many types of philondendrons, and while the Split Leaf variety (aka “swiss cheese plant”) is not technically a philondendron, it’s closely related to it. Philodendrons absorb high levels of formaldehyde from the air and produce lots of oxygen. Shop split leaf philondendron.
8. Rubber Plant (ficus elastica)
An interesting and pretty plant. It’s leaves are thick like succulents. When the rubber tree is in growing season its soil needs to be kept moist, however, when it is dormant it’s best to only water once or twice a month. Removes formaldehyde from the home. Shop rubber plant.