Which House Plants Clean Air the Best?

spider plant

Do you know which house plants are best for improving indoor air quality (IAQ)?

When NASA was looking for a solution to improve IAQ in spacecraft, they measured the impact of houseplants on IAQ found that Mother Nature actually does a better job to clean air with houseplants than mechanical options. 

What Plants Do

The plants absorb the harmful chemicals in the air through their leaves, roots and soil. In fact, plants are one of the few ways to rid a room of harmful contaminants in the air called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They come ordinary household items like cleaning products, new paint, flooring, glue and adhesives, furniture, air fresheners and anything that contains perfume. Gas-powered vehicles spew VOCs, as do many yard chemicals.

VOCs contribute to headaches, respiratory problems and more serious diseases like nerve damage and organ failure. Outside of plants, the only other way to avoid VOCs indoors is to use fresh air ventilation, which isn’t always practical or possible.

The Best Plants for Clean Air

  • Spider plants. These are safe for both cats and dogs and are among the easiest to grow indoors in bright light. They tolerate dry soil fairly well, since their roots absorb and hold water. They’re not cacti, though, so when you do see the leaves curling, water immediately.
  • Dracaena. These are another easy-to-grow specimen for the indoors that’s very effective at removing VOCs. The plants tolerate moderate light and some will grow quite large. They’re toxic for dogs and cats.
  • Ficus. Once the ficus tree acclimatizes itself to your home, it will absorb more than its share of VOCs and provide an accent for a bright corner or room. It’s toxic to both cats and dogs.
  • Jade plants. These house plants clean air easily and like spider plants, are drought-tolerant. They are not safe around cats and dogs who like to chew vegetation.
  • Peace lily. These plants tolerate low-light conditions, but like so many others, they’re also toxic to pets. However, if you can keep them out of the bathroom, placing a prayer plant on the vanity will absorb the VOCs present in perfumed shampoos, soaps and makeup.
  • Lady or Areca palm. Both of these houseplants clean air inside your home and their heights at maturity exceed 10 feet. The Areca palm prefers high humidity and the lady palm is one of the easiest palms to grow.

Try your hand at being a green thumb and clean your air at the same time!

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