The Best Houseplants That Purify the Air for a Healthier Home

Blossoming foliage brings your home decor to life, but it doesn’t stop at aesthetics. There are many indoor plants that also purify the air, improving the health of our homes and everyone in them.

A landmark NASA study in the 1980s showed that many plant species purify the air, removing toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene and other carcinogens. This is important because every time we buy something made with synthetic materials for our homes, there will be “outgassing”.

From flame retardants in furniture to toxic chemicals in paint, varnish and flooring, according to some experts, the air inside our homes can often be more polluted than the air outside. However, a stylish way to improve the air quality in your home is to add a few indoor plants.

“Studies have shown that in addition to removing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen through photosynthesis, some popular indoor plants also filter harmful pollutants called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air at inside our homes and offices,” says Maddie of The Stem. “Fresher, cleaner air will do wonders for your well-being and productivity.”

Of course, all plants do photosynthesis, and that’s debatable due to the lab setup in the experiment, how many plants you would need to make a difference in air quality. However, many of the popular species suggested by our experts have been included in the NASA science trial. So not only will they enhance your cushion, but they can help flush out toxins and purify the air in your home. It’s a win-win from what we can see.



english ivy

(Image credit: future)

Although typically found outdoors in cottage gardens, English ivy is equally well suited to growing indoors. It grows quickly and is easy to care for, so you can take cuttings for other plants for gifts or for yourself.

“These are beautiful white and green patterned leaves that can be trailed or hung,” says Maddie from The Stem. ‘The English ivy will beautify your bookshelves or your desk. It was included in the NASA study and is a superstar at removing VOCs from the air.


lily of peace

(Image credit: Soho Home X Leaf Envy)

This tropical beauty has piercing white flowers, as well as a reputation for being ideal for sitting next to a computer or microwave, due to its purifying properties. Another reason this is a good plant to have is that it will let you know if it needs water. Its leaves will droop a bit, though they will straighten up soon after a drink.

‘Peace Lily’s bright green leaves are air-purifying superstars; just remember to spray regularly and wipe off to keep it looking its best,” says Maddie. “It’s rustic; cope with light shade as well as bright indirect light, and thrives in humidity. The air-purifying qualities of leaves make them an excellent choice for the home office or kitchen.


snake plant

(Image credit: Patch Plants)

An unusual form of succulent, snake plants have become an indoor trend over the past couple of years. “There are many plants that have been proven to purify the air,” says Richard Cheshire, plant doctor at Patch Plants. “Snake plants are recommended by NASA for their air-purifying qualities and are known to remove toxins and release oxygen at night.”

It’s this reverse photosynthesis (releasing oxygen at night, instead of carbon dioxide like most other plants) that means it’s okay to have Snake plants in the bedroom. It is for this reason that it has also earned the dubious reputation of an “anti-snoring” herb.

If you sleep with a snorer, give it a try. The worst that can happen is that you both breathe better and your room looks and feels cooler too.


devil's ivy

(Image credit: Leaf Envy)

“Devil’s Ivy, aka Golden Pothos, is known to remove formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene, and carbon monoxide,” says Richard de Patch. “These smart plants can also survive almost anywhere. Just keep them out of direct sunlight or full shade and use the finger dip test to see when they need a drink. To make them even happier, feed them once a month in spring and summer.

If you’ve recently decorated, bought new furniture, or live on a busy main road, it’s worth having a few of these plants dotted around your home.

Due to its hardy characteristics and low maintenance requirements, devil’s ivy is one of the best houseplants for beginners. So if you’re not already a plant parent, this is a good place to start.


Kentia Palm

(Image credit: Leaf Envy)

There’s an elegance to the palm trees reminiscent of the Art Deco era and grand cafes of yore. This is one of the reasons for their renewed popularity in modern interiors. This decorator’s favorite was also in the office.

“The Kentia palm is one of the most versatile plants around and its tall, succulent stems and long, glossy green leaves fan out to make quite the impression,” says Maddie of The Stem. ‘The Kentia can handle light shade and humid conditions. It likes to be misted regularly, so nearby showers and baths are great for keeping the foliage cool and airy. It is also another excellent plant for removing pollutants from the air.


Peace lilies, English ivy, devil’s ivy (Golden Pothos), snakes, dragon trees and weeping fig were among the plants in the NASA study that eliminated toxins, such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethlyne. These carcinogenic chemicals are commonly found in solvents, ink, lacquers, adhesives, particle board, plastics and fire retardants.

Basically many of the products you could use if you are doing home renovations. If so, it might be worth including these indoor plants in your finished room scheme. As much for their air-purifying properties as for their attractiveness.

You can also consider clay plaster walls, oiled FSC wood floors and other breathable or non-toxic finishes in your project.

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