Most of us probably don’t think twice about the air quality within our home. We think our home is odorless, fresh or neutral smelling. But the truth is that indoor air quality can be, well, deceiving. There are several factors that can contribute to toxicity within the air. All the interior like furniture, paint, carpeting and flooring can have moderate to substantial off-gassing going on, unless of course it’s truly natural untreated materials. Other factors like the air quality in your direct environment can have harmful chemicals, especially in cities, or if you live near factories, highways, airports, etc. means you could be exposed to harmful chemicals floating in the air. And, other contributors, like mold can easily be hiding in between walls, under a paint job, in the mattress, or any little hidden corner.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the air inside the average home is up to five times more polluted than the air outside. When I read this, I got really concerned and curious… and started investigating.
Before zooming in on more issues, the bottom line is:
INVEST IN HOUSE PLANTS
NASA's Clean Air Study found that there are a number of air purifying plants that can detoxify your home from the airborne toxins, dusts and germs that can be found in a variety of household products, materials and furniture.
The plants below are just some that have been recommended by NASA, and some have been heavily researched as alternative sources to purifying localized environments.
Clearly indoor plants have therapeutic benefits on many levels. The question then becomes which are the most effective at improving air quality and removing toxins. Beyond that, each air purifying plant has its own unique ‘personality’, preferring certain conditions over others, so be sure to consider your space and climate in relation to what the plant needs to thrive. That being said, the air purifying plants below are a hardy bunch and can handle a bit of stress (and neglect if you don’t happen to have a green thumb!) so, don’t limit yourself for lack of ‘ideal’ conditions.
5 AIR PURIFYING PLANTS
1. SNAKE PLANT, aka Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
Long, tongue-like leaves with sharp pointed tips earn the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue name, although certain varieties also resemble the geometrically patterned scales of a snake. One of the top air purifying plants identified by NASA, Sansevieria removes at least 107 known air pollutants, including carbon monoxide and nitrogen monoxide, formaldehyde, chloroform, benzene, xylene, and trichloroethylene among many others. Sansevieria also produces copious amounts of oxygen throughout the night, making it an excellent plant to keep in the bedroom.
Best of all, Sansevieria is an extremely resilient species that can go for weeks without water and seems to thrive in just about any climate, including those with low light, although they do appreciate direct sunlight, which is characteristic of their native habitat of Madagascar.
2. MONEY PLANT
Money plant earns its common name from its traditional use as a wealth and prosperity booster in the Chinese system of feng shui, which is the ancient art of harmonizing indoor spaces via the strategic placement of furniture, plants and other common household objects. Whether or not it brings you greater abundance or not, Money Plant is a powerful air purifying plant that will clean the air in your house very effectively, due to its particular affinity for volatile organic compounds (otherwise known as VOCs) most commonly in the form of off-gassing from synthetic paint or carpets.
Featured by NASA, the Money Plant is renowned for its ability to remove chemicals and other pollutants from the air, specifically benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. However, despite the benefit of its high purification rate, this plant is toxic to cats, dogs, and small children if its leaves are ingested. This is one you can easily find at any plant store (like Mothers Tongue) and what I love about it is that it takes over your home.
3. PEACE LILY
The Peace Lily is a deep, forest green plant with beautiful white flowers. It’s a great general cleanser and air purifying plant that effectively removes all common indoor pollutants generated by furniture, electronics and cleaning products, so much so that it is one of NASA’s top-ranked plants for this purpose. This is another precious plant that requires minimal watering, with the general guideline being once every 4-5 days.
4. BAMBOO PALMS aka Butterfly Palm
The Bamboo Palm is another hardy plant native to Madagascar that does an excellent job as an indoor, air purifying plant, with a particular penchant for formaldehydes, benzene and carbon monoxide. As an added benefit beyond air purification, it is also a natural humidifier, producing a liter of ambient water every 24 hours, making it a well suited plant for dry climates or those with breathing troubles.
Bamboo Palms grow rapidly and can become quite large but you can limit their height by keeping them pruned and confined to smaller pots. When it comes to having air cleaning plants in your home, the rule of thumb is the more the better. Each plant pumps out loads of fresh oxygen and cleans toxins and harmful VOC’s out of the air just how nature intended. If you are ready to go all in and upgrade your indoor air quality, exponentially, this is for you.
Florist’s chrysanthemums are ranked the highest for air purification. They’re shown to eliminate common toxins as well as ammonia. Brighten up your kitchen or living room with these cheerful and colorful flowers. These pretty blooms help to filter out a host of toxins including ammonia and benzene, which is often found in plastics, detergents, and glue. Treat yourself to a fresh pot, as this flower only blooms for about six weeks. Or you can fertilize the pot again in the spring when new growth appears. But without the flowers, it won’t be purifying the air.
And there’s so many more that you probably have seen around. Also don’t forget that most plants oxygenate one way or another, some are just less studied and are perhaps even more powerful. Green up your space and feel the healing effects! Please do share with us on social how you green up your home!