Whether it’s old or new, your home could be harboring unhealthy (and invisible) toxins. These chemical compounds are found in emissions from paint, plastics, carpet, cleaning solutions, and numerous building materials. Three major offenders found in the home include:
- formaldehyde: in carpets, upholstery, glues, paint, and more
- benzene: in plastics, synthetic fibers, lubricants, rubber, pesticides, and more)
- trichloroethylene: in paint removers, rug cleaning solution, adhesives, and more
Lucky for us, nature has a way of keeping itself clean. There are many powerful air-cleaning plants that naturally remove pollutants from the air. We picked nine of our favorites and offer tips on how to keep them in top working condition.
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
In the 1980s, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America discovered that peace lilies absorb benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and more. To maximize the plant’s air-cleansing potential, keep the foliage dust-free. Pristine white blooms are a bonus with this efficient plant.
Eliminates: formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene, ammonia, and more
This large group of houseplants offers selections in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The tall corn plant looks at home in a corner, while the colorful striped leaves of ‘Lemon Lime’ and the day-glow ‘Limelight’ brighten up a dark spot. These selections flourish in low light, while the Madagascar Dragon Tree prefers bright light.
Eliminates: formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene, trichloroethylene
Florist’s Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
While anthurium and orchids do a good job purifying the air, the florist’s chrysanthemum (commonly called a “mum”) is one of the best. Technically not a houseplant, this seasonal beauty flowers for about six weeks with proper care. When it’s spent, toss it in the compost pile and treat yourself to another fresh pot.
Eliminates: formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, ammonia
Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
Easy elegance best describes this sturdy palm. It grows between three and six feet tall and also transpires a healthy bit of moisture into a room, making it particularly welcome in dry winter months.
Eliminates: formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide, xylene, chloroform, and more
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
English Ivy is an evergreen climbing plant that is well adapted to indoor conditions. They’re easily grown as houseplants in hanging baskets or containers and are an excellent choice for low-light situations. Use green-leaved varieties to provide contrast against lighter surroundings and choose variegated forms to brighten up dark corners. English Ivy is recommended for removing allergens such as mold and animal feces.
Eliminates: benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and more
Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
Areca palm is a small, cluster-forming palm from Madagascar. The plants’ graceful, arching leaves and architectural form make it an attractive indoor specimen plant. According to NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, Areca Palm is the most efficient air purifying plant and is an excellent air humidifier.
Eliminates: benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and more
Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
Rubber plants are evergreen trees from India. Tropical in appearance, they make handsome container specimens. Leaves are typically broad, deep green and shiny. However, some varieties exhibit cream variegated and purple tinged foliage. Roots are produced ‘aerially,’ which oftentimes entwine around the trunk forming interesting entangled shapes and buttressing. Tests have shown that rubber plants are especially efficient at removing formaldehyde from the air.
Eliminates: carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and more