Air-Cleansing Houseplants That Don’t Require a Green Thumb


Did you know that furnishing, upholstery, synthetic building materials, and even cleaning products can emit a variety of toxic compounds, including formaldehyde, in your home? Indoor air pollutants have been ranked among the top five environmental public health risks by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They can cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea, and their long-term effects can even cause respiratory diseases, heart disease, or cancer to develop.

Thankfully, NASA came to the rescue! Well, sort of. They were running into similar ventilation issues in ships, space stations, and other small working areas, so they set up an experiment to find the best way to keep the air clean. What’d they find worked best? Plants!

That’s right: our leafy outdoor friends can do wonders for the air inside! They absorb some of the bad particles from the air when they take in carbon dioxide to photosynthesize and the microorganisms in their soil work to clean up the rest. Better air quality aside, plants have also been shown to lower blood pressure and stress levels so why not pick up a few this weekend to add to your decor?

Here’s a list of the nine of the best air purifying plants (according to NASA) that are also the easiest to take care of!


Aloe Vera

(Aloe vera or A. barbadensis)

A succulent, aloe vera doesn’t need much water, just plenty of sunlight. In return, it helps purify your air and even contains a wound-healing clear liquid chock-full of vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and other antibacterial and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Pollutant removed: formaldehyde


Bamboo Palm

(Chamaedorea seifrizii)

Prepare for shooting heights, literally! If you can take care of a bamboo palm – and trust us, you can – they can grow between 4-12 feet high. All they need is plenty of bright sunlight and a little water every now and then!

Pollutants removed: benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene


Boston Fern

(Nephrolepis exaltata v. Bostoniensis)

If you’re one to overwater your plants, consider getting a Boston Fern. They need water daily and a good soak at least once a month (hey, you know what that’s like!). Boston Ferns also like high humidity and indirect sunlight while they do their air cleansing.

Pollutants removed: formaldehyde and xylene



(Dracaena spp.)

This common foliage plant has quite the variety: there are more than 40 different types of Dracaena plants, so you’re sure to find one to fit your home or office perfectly! Watch your pets around them though, because they’re toxic to dogs and cats.

Pollutants removed: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene


Ficus/Weeping Fig

(Ficus benjamina)

A hardy native of southeast Asia, ficus plants can grow between 2-10 feet indoors. It likes bright, indirect sunlight and, since you have to allow the soil to dry out between waterings, it’ll survive (and keep on purifying!) if things get hectic and it slips your mind.

Pollutants removed: benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene


Garden Mum

(Chrysanthemum morifolium)

Superstars of the NASA air-purifying experiment, garden mums are an inexpensive, easy option for purifying the air in your home. Added bonus: they can be planted outside when they’re finished blooming.

Pollutants removed: ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene


Peace Lily

(Spathiphyllum sp.)

Peace lilies grow best in shady areas, so if your indoor sunlight is limited, this could be the air-purifying plant for you! They’re easy to grow (obvs) and bloom with fragrant flowers for much of the summer. All they ask is that you keep their soil moist without overwatering.

Pollutants removed: ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene


Snake Plant/Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

(Sansevieria trifasciata)

Trust us, this plant’s name is way more daunting than the idea of taking care of it should be. Snake plants are one of the hardest houseplants to kill because they prefer drier conditions, just a little sun, and only the occasional watering.

Pollutants removed: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene


Spider Plant

(Chlorophytum comosum)

Spider plants are great if you’re a new plant parent or a seasoned forgetful one because they’re among the easiest of houseplants to grow. They love bright, indirect sunlight and will even shoot out flowers that eventually grow into spiderettes, aka baby spider plants.

Pollutants removed: formaldehyde and xylene



What are some of your favorite plants to keep around the house? Did any of them make the list? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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