11 Houseplants That Clean the Air You Breathe

Freshen up your indoor spaces with purifying plants that remove unwanted toxins and pollutants from the air - and look pretty, too.

Jun 19, 2015

The smart folks at NASA were one of the first to research and publicize the connection between houseplants and clean air. In the late ‘80s NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America were looking for ways to purify the air in space facilities. The NASA findings concurred that a bit of greenery can naturally purify the air we breathe, eliminating harmful toxins. Indoor air pollutants are a real thing, and have even been ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health. From the spaceship to your living room, here are 11 houseplants that let you breathe easy by creating healthy and thriving indoor environments. 

1. ARECA PALM

This small, cluster-forming palm from Madagascar makes for a handsome addition to your home and requires bright filtered light with shade from the sun. 
CLEANS THE AIR OF: Benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene  and was rated most efficient air purifying plant by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America.  

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2. ALOE VERA

This sun-loving succulent clears the air and also contains a gel inside that can help heal cuts and burns.
CLEANS THE AIR OF: Formaldehyde and benzene, which can be a result of chemical-based cleaners and paints. 

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3. RED-EDGED DRACAENA

This lady-in-red shrub has the ability to reach your ceiling and there are more than 40 different kind of dracaena plants. A word of warning: don’t place a dracaena in your house if you have a pet. 
CLEANS THE AIR OF: Xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde, which can be introduced to indoor air through lacquers, varnishes and gasoline.

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4. SPIDER PLANT

This resilient plant sprouts tiny white flowers and holds up even if you forget to water it. As an added bonus, it’s safe for pets.
CLEANS THE AIR OF: Formaldehyde, CO2 and xylene, a solvent used in the leather, rubber and printing industries. 

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5. WEEPING FIG/FICUS

A ficus is a bit more high-maintenance, requiring bright indirect light and time to let the soil dry out between water feedings. But if you care for it right, it can last you years.
CLEANS THE AIR OF: Formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene, which typically accompany carpeting and furniture.

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6. PEACE LILY

Smaller than some of the other plants on this list, don’t let size be a factor in judging this plant’s capabilities. Flowering for much of the summer, peace lillies need shade and weekly waterings.
CLEANS THE AIR OF: Formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene.

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7. ENGLISH IVY

Low-light situations are where English ivy thrive and need to be watered generously.
CLEANS THE AIR OF: Benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and mold allergens.

8. SNAKE PLANT

Preferring drier conditions and some sun, the Snake Plant goes by another name - mother-in-law’s tongue - (we’ll let you work that one out for yourself!).
CLEANS THE AIR OF: Benzene and formaldehyde, which is common in cleaning products, toilet paper, tissues and personal care products.

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9. CHINESE EVERGREEN

These perennials hail from the tropical forests of Asia, producing blooms and berries. 
CLEANS THE AIR OF: Benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene

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10. GOLDEN POTHOS

Place your Golden Pothos in a hanging basket and watch its beautiful vines cascade. Super easy to care for, golden pothos grow in any light situation, except for direct sunlight. 
CLEANS THE AIR OF: Formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene and carbon monoxide.

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11. BAMBOO PALM

Also known as the reed palm, this plant thrives in the full sun or bright light and is pet-friendly.
CLEANS THE AIR OF: Benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.

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Shoshana radiates doing good, driven by a love for people and community. Among many topics, she writes about friendship, creativity and healthy living.

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