Air Purifying Plants


Houses are prone to air pollutants that are found in carpets, cleaning solutions, glues, ovens and synthetic materials such as fiber, rubber, and plastic. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conducted a study in 1989.  The study showed that various house plants can be used to purify a home by removing volatile organic compounds present in our homes. 

Air Purifying Plants


Scientists found out that many plants that are used for air purification are from tropical forests. As their leaves allow photosynthesis, the air is moved efficiently in low light conditions. The roots of the plants and the soil itself also remove the pollutants in the air. This is because the fungi and bacteria in the soil use the pollutants as a source of food for the plants. If you can remove the lower leaves of the plant for exposure to more soil, more toxins can be absorbed.

How Many Plants Do I Need to Purify Air?

The NASA scientist who did this study, Bill Wolverton, provides a recommendation on the number of plants that can be used in a room for air purification. He suggests that for a room measuring 100 square feet, at least two good-sized plants can be used. When the air cleaning plant is bigger and leafier, the better the air purification. This is because the surface area of the leaves influence air purification

A different study that was funded by Hort Innovation showed that an average room that is roughly 13 by 16 square feet or 4m by 5m can use just one houseplant. This improved the air quality of the room by 25%. When two plants were used, the air improved by 75%. In larger rooms measuring 26 by 26 feet or 8 by 8 meters, air quality improved by 75% when 16 plants were used. 32 plants were found to produce better results.

Are Plants Better Than Air Purifiers?

We can’t easily point out which is the best for air purification, but some tips can help you determine which is the best for your home. 

Air-purifying house plants can be preferred for:

  • Homes with less pet dander or dust
  • People who are good and passionate at growing these plants
  • People who like purifying air naturally
  • Homes that have enough space for the accommodation of various plants
  • Homes that have higher VOCs levels from new furniture, new construction, higher amounts of cleaning products, and many more.
  • People who are keen on keeping toxic pollutants from their homes by following extra steps.

Mechanical air filtration by air purifiers can be preferred for:

  • For people who want to eliminate a wide variety of contaminants from the house
  • People who have no issue with using mechanical filtration
  • Homes that have limited space to accommodate multiple plants
  • For people with allergies or asthma
  • Homes with a lot of pet dander or dust
  • People who aren’t passionate or good at keeping house plants alive and healthy.

Having mentioned that plants can be used to eliminate toxins and other pollutants in the house, it’s inevitable to wonder whether sleeping in the same room with plants is healthy or not. 

Is It Okay to Sleep with Plants in The Bedroom?

The Clean Air Study that was conducted by NASA provides facts on how the plants can purify the air. Most people believe that sleeping with plants in the same room isn’t healthy. This shouldn’t be the case since respiration in plants occurs as in humans.

During photosynthesis, plants release carbon dioxide at night and convert carbon dioxide to oxygen during the day. It’s important to note that the amount of carbon dioxide released by the plant is far less than what humans and pets release. This could mean that sleeping with someone else in the same room is less healthy in terms of oxygen compared to sleeping in a bedroom filled with plants. 

It’s more beneficial to have plants in your bedroom since apart from cleaning the air in the room, the bedside table is brighter and the room looks more alive. Moreover, as you take care of the plants, you can wind down easily after a busy day. Some studies have shown that by just touching a plant’s leaf for two minutes, your stress levels can be reduced. 

Best Air Purifying Plants 

Below are some plants that have been recommended by NASA as the plants to clean your indoors and those that are easy to take care of. They include the following;

Spider plants

Their scientific name is Chlorophytum comosum. They are also known as air plants. They’re attractive on hanging baskets and grow quickly. They sometimes produce beautiful white blossoms. They require limited attention from the user and can eliminate toxins that include xylene and carbon monoxide. There are more than 200 species of spider plants to choose from, and most of them stay healthy and alive with limited attention. 

For the best results, you should water these plants twice or thrice a week. Moreover, spider plants are non-toxic to animals. Additionally, it’s safe for children and animals who like to play with swinging objects.


You might come across various species of these plants and are available in different sizes, shapes, and colors. For instance; the tall corn plant has interesting markings, and the rainbow plant is bright purple. Dracaenas eliminate xylene, benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, and trichloroethylene. For better care of this plant, ensure that the soil is damp since too much water can end its life. 

Dracaenas is however toxic to animals as it induces excess salivation and nausea.

Areca Palms

Its scientific name is Chrysalidocarpus lutescens. Its origin is Madagascar and can be grown outdoors. It has elegant leaves that brighten up your room easily. To take care of the plant in a better way, plenty of water is needed during growth, a reduction of the water should, however, be done in the winter. Interestingly, you don’t have to worry about toxicity to both cats and dogs as the plants don’t pose any danger to them. 

The plant eliminates carbon monoxide, xylene, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, and benzene.

Golden Pothos

The scientific name of this plant is Epipremnum aureum. It’s also referred to as the devil’s ivy. It can be easily grown in various conditions without fail. It’s very effective in removing the most popular toxins in the house. Interestingly, as it grows, it can reach up to 8 feet long. If you don’t want the plant to get to this height, you can trim its tendrils. You should water it when the soil gets dry to keep it alive. The plant is nevertheless, toxic to animals, thus you should keep it out of reach of the pets in the house. 

Golden pothos eliminates toluene, formaldehyde, xylene, carbon monoxide, benzene and many more common toxins in the house.


Its scientific name is Chrysanthemum morifolium. It’s known to be very effective in getting rid of common toxins including ammonia. You will enjoy the freshness of this flower for about six weeks. This means you will need to get a fresh pot again, or you can choose to fertilize the pot when new growth appears in the Spring. However, air purification won’t occur when the flowers are absent. To keep the flower healthy and alive you should keep the soil damp and check for its moisture every day. Chrysanthemums are nevertheless toxic to animals, and you should keep it off from cats and dogs in the house.

It can eliminate benzene, xylene, ammonia, and formaldehyde.

Plants recommended by NASA, but need a little extra love

The plants we are about to discuss work well for people who are passionate and good at taking care of plants. This is because, unlike those mentioned above, they need extra care such as repotting or misting. They include the following;

English Ivy

Its scientific name is Hedera helix. It’s a climbing plant and does well in indoor conditions. It’s available in varieties that require different light situations from low-light, bright to indirect light. It’s attractive as it grows around the windowsill or from a hanging basket. For its proper growth, you should water it generously, but you can reduce the amount of water during winter. 

Nevertheless, English ivy is known to be harmful to animals. It’s harmful to farm animals, dogs, and humans when eaten. For the people with sensitive skin, this plant may not be so friendly with them as it may cause severe dermatitis due to the chemicals in the sap.

The plant eliminates carbon monoxide, trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde. 

Bamboo palms

Its scientific name is Chamaedorea seifrizii. The elegance of this plant is what people admire most. It also has a good height to enjoy. For its good growth, it needs bright but not direct sunlight. It’s a great air purification plant for the dry winter months due to the healthy moisture it provides to the indoor environment. This plant has preferences for how you should take care of it. For instance, the soil should be kept moist. The bamboo palms should be placed where there is enough air, this helps to prevent spider mites.

Interestingly, you don’t have to worry about the safety of your pets as this plant isn’t toxic to them. Bamboo palm can be used to eliminate benzene, xylene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, chloroform, and more.

Chinese Evergreen

The scientific name of these air-cleaning plants is aglaonema. Their originality is the tropical forests in Asia. The aesthetic value they add to your house is irresistible due to its pretty patterns and color. Some extra attention is required to keep the plant healthy and alive. You’re required to water it moderately, and the compost needs to be almost dry before watering it. These air purification plants require regular misting, high humidity and should be repotted for every few years.

You should ensure that dogs don’t get into contact with the plant since it’s toxic to them. The plant can get rid of formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, carbon monoxide, benzene and more.

Rubber plants

Their scientific name is ficus elastic. Their originality is India. Interestingly, the roots grow upwards and twine around the plant’s trunk, giving it an attractive look.  The plants often require little attention, bright but not direct light. To improve the attractiveness, you could prune the leaves, and wipe them down. You should also ensure that the water is moist by watering it moderately. You should be careful with this plant if there are pets in the house as they are toxic to both dogs and cats.

Rubber plants purify the air by getting rid of formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, trichloroethylene and many more. 

Although these plants can clean your air effectively, you could use these tips to make their work easier.

  • Increase the ventilation in your house
  • Vacuum and mop your floors frequently
  • Minimize the use of synthetic air fresheners and cleaner

Now you know about air purifying plants

Ensure you have chosen the best air purification plant that best suits you to ensure that you give it the necessary care and love.