As homes become more efficient and better insulated, more air pollutants can be trapped inside. Every house and office has indoor air pollutants. From chemicals in carpets and paint to chemical cleaners and stagnant air, these indoor pollutants, such as benzene, formaldehyde, and ammonia, have been ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health. And, they are brought in by everyday things such as carpet, household cleaners, paint, insulation, and pressed wood, to name just a few.
These indoor pollutants can contribute to asthma, illness, allergies, headaches, and more. The scientists at NASA have been working on finding solutions to this issue and they’ve discovered that some houseplants can actually help clean the air for us, with the added benefit of bringing a bit of nature’s beauty inside. A great and inexpensive way to combat a very real problem.
How Do Houseplants Clean the Air?
They absorb some of the air particulates when they take in carbon dioxide, which is processed into oxygen through photosynthesis. Microorganisms associated with plants are present in the potting soil and these microbes are also responsible for much of the cleaning effect. Plus, studies suggest that indoor plants may make people smarter by keeping them alert and reducing mental fatigue.
How Many Clean Air Plants Do You Need?
To be effective, it’s recommended that you’ll need at least two plants per 100 square feet of space, or 15 to 18 good-sized houseplants in a 1,800 square foot house. Even if you have less than that, any clean-air houseplants you add will help.
Which Clean Air Plants Should You Add to Your Home and Office?
To make it easier on you, here are our top 7 clean air plants:
Peace Lilies are in the top three on the NASA Clean Air Plant List. A versatile, year ‘round bloomer, the Peace Lily does well anywhere in the home, but it likes indirect sunlight and weekly watering. Its leaves will start to droop when it needs water. This beauty works well in any décor and is virtually unkillable!
What it does: Removes common household toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene, and even ammonia.
Caution: It’s important to note that the Peace Lily can be mildly toxic to humans and pets.
Philodendron is a climbing vine that is often best for homes without small pets or children. This beauty is virtually maintenance-free and an excellent choice for removing formaldehyde, like what is commonly found in particle boards.
What it does: Removes formaldehyde, commonly found in particle board.
Caution: Philodendrons are toxic if ingested.
Golden Pothos are fast-growing vines that tolerate a lot of neglect, are forgiving when over-watered, and are relatively effective at removing many air pollutants. Golden Pothos is a great starter houseplant for people without much indoor-gardening experience.
What it does: It tackles formaldehyde and also targets carbon monoxide and benzene. Consider placing one in your mudroom or entryway, where car exhaust fumes heavy in formaldehyde are most likely to sneak indoors from the garage.
Caution: Toxic to animals
Chinese Evergreens are highly tolerant houseplants. They can handle a range of light from low light to bright indirect. The more light that these plants receive, the more variegation you will see in their leaves.
What it does: They are great at removing toxins such as carbon monoxide, benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde. They produce high levels of oxygen. The best placement for this plant is in a living room where it can spread its oxygen to a large open area.
Caution: Toxic to animals
Spider Plants are a classic, usually green and white variegated, houseplant that performs well in fluorescent light to bright, indirect light. They like to dry out between waterings and flourish in hanging baskets.
What it does: Put a spider plant on a pedestal or in a hanging basket close to a sunlit window and it will help eliminate formaldehyde and xylene from your air.
Non-toxic: For children or animals who like to play with swinging things, this plant is safe.
Palms are easy to care for and like cooler temperatures, preferably in the 60 to 75°F range.
What it does: Palm trees seem particularly good at removing indoor air pollutants, specifically formaldehyde. The best at formaldehyde removal is the Dwarf Date Palm, which is closest in appearance to the palm trees that remind you of warmer climates, but you’ll also get clean air with a Bamboo Palm, Areca Palm, Lady Palm, or Parlor Palm.
Caution: Some palm trees can be toxic.
Snake Plants are great for areas of your home or office that are low light. Although they prefer bright indirect light for growth, they are low light and neglect tolerant. During winter months, they only require monthly waterings.
What it does: Not only are they low-light tolerant, but they will also continue to produce oxygen in low-light conditions. They are great at getting rid of xylene and trichloroethylene, nitrogen oxide, formaldehyde, and benzene. These toxic chemicals can all be found in the building structure of homes.
Caution: Mildly toxic if consumed.
Are you ready to add some much-needed clean air plants to your home or office? Stop by Patuxent Nursery and pick up what you need. Our plant experts are available to answer any questions you may have and help you pick the right plants for you.
Have questions? Contact our Houseplants Department.