If you think that you’re keeping you and your family safe from pollution and various toxins by staying at home, you’re absolutely wrong.
Unfortunately, even our homes are teeming with a whole gamut of harsh toxic substances floating in the air we breathe in – and guess what? It’s all due to our own doing.
Little did we know, we unwittingly invite these unimaginably toxic chemicals into our home through the very cleaning products we trust would shoo away the germs and bacteria we dread the most.
Harmful Toxins That Could Be Lurking in Your Home
Invisible to the naked eye, the most common airborne chemicals we encounter at home or in the office include:Trichloroethylene
- An industrial solvent usually found in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, adhesive, paint remover, and thinner.
- Short-term exposure to trichloroethylene can cause panic, dizziness, nausea, headache, drowsiness, vomiting, and can lead to coma
- Used in facial tissues, synthetic fabrics, waxed papers, toilet paper.
- Exposure to formaldehyde can cause irritation to nose, mouth, and throat, which can lead to swelling of the lungs and larynx.
- An ingredient in making plastic, resin, detergent, pesticides.
- Can also be found in tobacco fumes, vehicle exhaust, paint, and furniture wax.
- Exposure to benzene can cause eye irritation, drowsiness, confusion, and unconsciousness.
- Found in printing, making rubber, tobacco smoke, and vehicle exhaust
- Short-term exposure to xylene can cause dizziness, heart problems, kidney damage, and coma.
- Found in window cleaners, floor wax, fertilizers
- Short-term exposure to eye irritation, coughing, and sore throat.
NASA: Indoor Plants Are Natural Air Purifiers
You can be vigilant and watch out for these notorious chemicals in the products you use around the house. But the good news is there’s a natural and a far easier way to ensure that your home is free from toxicity, and that is filling your space with indoor plants.
Back in the ‘80s, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) along with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America looked closely into houseplants and their astounding ability to purify the air in the space facilities.
They discovered that indoor plants can remove a significant amount, at least 87 percent in 24 hours, of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are the toxic compounds – trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and ammonia.
Our Favorite Air-Purifying Indoor Plants
Purify the air you breathe naturally, whether at home or in the office, with the help of these gorgeous indoor plants.
Botanical Name: Chlorophytum Comosum
The best thing about spider plant is that they’re one of the easiest indoor plants to grow even a newbie plant parent won’t mess up. Otherwise called airplane plant, ribbon plant, and St. Bernard’s lily, there are three most popular varieties of spider plant:
- Chlorophytum Comosum Vittatum – This has longer leaves with white stripes and light-green margin
- Chlorophytum Comosum Variegatum – A slightly smaller spider plant variety, this airplane plant has leaf colors in reverse. It has dark green leaves with white edges.
- Chlorophytum comosum “Bonnie” – This kind of spider plant has leaves identical to Vittatum. But aside from being tinier, the Bonnie spider plant is also curly.
What’s amazing about these spider plants is that they are included in NASA’s list of air-purifying plants and are proven effective against busting formaldehyde and xylene in the air.
They are also effortless to propagate because t shoots up blossoms that eventually grow into baby spider plants, which you can cut and transplant in their own pot later on. Spider plants thrive in bright, indirect light and look spectacular in both pots and hanging baskets.
Do you want to put a spider plant in your living room, bathroom, front porch, or perhaps on top of your desk? No problem. Spider plants will be happy and healthy anywhere!
Botanical name: Spathiphyllum Mauna Loa
The peace lily is a superstar when it comes to getting rid of the big five indoor air pollutants: trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and ammonia. These chemicals are sucked, absorbed, and broken down on to leaves and the topsoil of the plant. A pot or two of these lovely flowering plants also boosts moisture in the air.
An ideal and dainty houseplant, peace lily requires minimum care and maintenance. Peace lilies can tolerate moderate to low levels of light. However, those exposed to a healthier amount of indirect light were found to bloom more classy white flowers compared to those in darker spots around the house.
If you often forget your plant watering schedule, you and the peace lily are a match made in heaven. As a certified drought-tolerant plant, it’s best to only water when the topsoil of your peace lily plant is dry or when leaves are starting to droop.
Botanical name: Nephrolepis exalta v. Bostoniensis
The Boston fern is a frilly, grassy-green fern that’s refreshingly fancy to see around the house. It’s a sword-type fern that came all the way from moist forests and swamps. It’s included in NASA’s prestigious list of air-purifying plants with expertise in removing formaldehyde and benzene from the air.
If you’re sharing your home with a beloved pet, the Boston fern is your safest bet when it comes to air-purifying indoor plants. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has listed Boston fern as safe for both dogs and cats.
A nice addition to your indoor plant family, Boston ferns are a sucker for bright, indirect light and high humidity levels. Apartment Therapy recommends putting it in a steamy bathroom, on a water-filled pebble tray, using a humidifier, along with misting every day.
Dendrobium OrchidsBotanical name: Dendrobium sp.
Now here’s another valid excuse why you should never think twice when adding an exquisite orchid plant or orchid arrangement to your cart.
Apart from being classy and chic pieces that will be the center of attention inside your apartment, did you know that orchids double-duty as natural air-purifying plants, too? Dendrobium orchids, which are also popularly called stalk orchids, are said to be reasonably effective at eliminating the presence of harsh airborne chemicals, such as alcohols, acetone, and chloroform.
Like succulents and bromeliads, another boon of having (or hoarding) orchid plants for your home is that they can produce beneficial oxygen even when you switch off your lights at night. This healthy flow of oxygen reportedly results in a positive and relaxing effect for us humans and lessens the risks of anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia.
If you’re having trouble calming your nerves during bedtime, we suggest taking an orchid plant inside your bedroom. Put in a spot near a window and away from direct sources of heat. Having a beautiful orchid encourages better sleep quality, plus you can also be assured that the air you inhale and exhale while you’re asleep is free of toxic substances, too.
Also Read: Do Succulents Produce Oxygen?
Botanical name:Chrysantheium morifolium
Chrysanthemum is another air-purifying heavyweight hailed by NASA, which can strip away trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and ammonia from indoor air. Also fondly called “mums,” these common blooms are frequently used in flower arrangements and sold as flowering plants in commercial garden centers.
As an indoor plant, put your chrysanthemums near a south-facing window in the home and where they can get nice air circulation. Too much light and humidity may cause it to stop flowering.
Botanical name: Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii'
More commonly known by its nickname, mother-in-law’s tongue, snake plant can also filter airborne formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, and xylene.
The most popular species and cultivars of snake plant are:
- Sansevieria ‘Golden Hahnii’ – which has shorter leaves and yellow edges.
- Sansevieria cylindrical – round, dark green and stripes leaves
- Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Twist’– twisted foliage, horizontal patterns, yellow variegated edges
A robust indoor plant and a cousin to succulents, snake plant can thrive with occasional watering sessions and a bit of sun. You can neglect this resilient plant for as long as you can but they’ll still look unbelievably green and gorgeous.
Scientific name: Ficus benjamina
Ficus is a tropical tree that’s native to parts of Southeast Asia and Australia. Believe it or not, this tree can thrive indoors and reach up two to 10 foot high. It effectively wipes out common toxic pollutants, such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
Also goes by the name weeping fig, this towering indoor plant doesn’t really like being touched or moved from one place to another. It stresses them out really bad. We say choose the best spot around the house first – considering lighting, humidity, and aesthetics – and then leave your ficus there. This tall beauty looks good as a focal point on walls and corners near windows. Follow a regular watering schedule and make sure the soil is always moist but not soggy.
Scientific name: Dracaena marginata
There are several stunning plants under the Dracaena family, but nothing beats the Red-edged Dracaena when it comes to its promising air-purifying properties.
A standout with its signature purplish red margins on ribbon-like leaves, the Red-edged Dracaena can strip off the air you breathe with dangerous formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, and xylene. A slow-growing indoor plant, this type of Dracaena will surprise you when it touches your high ceiling at 15 feet.
As most Dracaena houseplants, this indoor plant prefers to be in darker corners and won’t leave you even if you don’t water it dutifully. In fact, it can go up to two weeks without a sip. Unfortunately, this plant is toxic to pets.
Dwarf Date Palm
Scientific name: Phoenix robelenii
A pot of Dwarf Date Palm gives a tasteful touch of tropical paradise to any interior. This lush classic efficiently filters awful indoor air pollutants, such as formaldehyde and benzene. It’s also a good catch because it keeps moisture in the air.
Botanical name: Gerbera jamesonii
Another air-purifying flowering plant, the gerbera daisy impressively fights off toxins, such as trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, and benzene.
This charming flowers are child’s play to grow outdoors but can be quite a hard work indoors. With the proper care, a pot of gerbera daisy can survive and thrive for a couple of years or more indoors. As any flowering plant, an abundance of light is an essential ingredient to help it bloom. Put your daisy on a south-facing windowsill to catch the morning sun. Water only when the topsoil feels dry when you touch it with your fingers.
Plant Care: Practical Tips for Happy Indoor Plants
Most of the air-purifying plants we listed above are easy to take care of. But then again, if you want to take your indoor gardening journey seriously, doing your due diligence and researching more about the specific plants you’re eyeing will definitely save you a lot of trial and errors and heartaches.
Check out some of these helpful plant care tips.
- Before adopting a new houseplant, always do your homework regarding its care requirements.
- Evaluate your home and stick to plants that are known to do well under those conditions.
- Do you have a cat or a dog at home? Double-check with proper authorities and credible sources if the indoor plant you’re planning to get is safe or not.
- Do not overwater your plants, which is a surefire way to kill it.
- Keep your houseplants away from direct sources of heat, including the fireplace, stove, oven, or heating vents.
- Wipe the dust off leaves gently with soft, damp cloth once in a while. Dust covers the plant’s stomata, which could be stopping or slowing down photosynthesis.
- Give new plants some time to acclimatize properly inside your home.
Which air-purifying plants have you tried for your home? Do you have more indoor plant tips and advice? We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.