There can be a downside to spending the majority of the day inside. Indoor air pollution is a major health concern in the modern age and can lead to something called “sick building syndrome”. With restricted ventilation and improper filtering, the air indoors can become saturated with dust, allergens, and chemicals. By bringing a little bit of the outdoors inside, you can use our guide for the top indoor plants for air purification to help you breathe healthier air.
Top Indoor Plants for Air Purification
Effective Against: Formaldehyde, Ammonia, Benzene, Carbon Monoxide
The ubiquitous peace lily prefers low light settings, just like most teenagers. But it’s also easy to care for, needing only lightly moistened soil throughout the year. In return, it’ll give you those pretty white blooms and no attitude.
Unfortunately, during flowering, the peace lily can actually add allergens like pollen to the air in your home. So you might want to avoid this one if you’re prone to spring allergies.
This is a good air purifier for the basement. A small window near the peace lily will be fine, but if it’s an underground basement, you can occasionally move the peace lily upstairs for some sunlight before returning it for downstairs duty.
Note to pet owners: While good for the air, the peace lily is very toxic to cats. If you have pets in the home, consider one of the other plants on the list first.
Effective Against: Formaldehyde, Xylene
The sight of palm trees can transport you to a tropical paradise any day of year. They can also help make the air in your home as refreshing as a warm ocean breeze (if you believe hard enough).
Fantasies aside, palm trees can truly improve the air quality in your home by filtering large amounts of formaldehyde and other common pollutants.
Try out a pygmy date palm or bamboo palm. They’re the most effective palms for air purification. But keep in mind that they require some pruning as they grow in order to keep your home from turning from “tropical paradise” into “overgrown jungle”.
Effective Against: Formaldehyde, Xylene
Maybe the best thing about spider plants is their ability to survive the subpar caretaking most of us are likely to provide. They need only moderate amounts of water and indirect sunlight. They thrive in temperatures that are common in most indoor settings.
The second best thing about spider plants? They’re great at removing formaldehyde from the air with their slender leaves and occasional flowers. The small size makes them a great fit for your desk at work.
Plus, they’re non-toxic—ideal for homes with small children or pets.
The worst thing about spider plants? Probably that creepy-crawly name.
Effective Against: Xylene, Formaldehyde, Ammonia, Benzene
In the “Clean Air Study” commissioned by NASA, the chrysanthemum came out on top as the best plant for air purification.
Well done, mum.
You can find chrysanthemums at just about any garden center for a reasonable price. They’re excellent at removing various common irritants from the air. Plus, their flowers lend a pleasant pop of color.
One caveat: they do most of their filtering during their blooming period, which typically lasts just six weeks. An easy solution is to replant them outside once blooming is complete.
(You’ll want to make sure to keep your chrysanthemum away from pets, as the leaves are toxic when ingested.)
Effective Against: Formaldehyde, Benzene, Xylene
Despite its name, this common household plant is native to tropical climates, which can make caring for it a bit tedious for most people.
The Boston fern needs a cool place with high humidity and indirect light, and requires constant damp soil with a few applications of fertilizer per year.
That can seem like a lot of attention. But if you’re willing to put in the work, the Boston fern is effective at filtering formaldehyde along with xylene and benzene, two byproducts of automobile exhaust.
Plant it in a hanging pot for air filtration in rooms with exposed beams or vaulted ceilings. Just keep it at arm’s reach to prevent making daily care a chore.