How To Improve Your Home Air Quality With Plants: A Complete Guide
Indoor plants have become much more popular in the past few years due to increased awareness regarding their benefits—and one of the most significant is the ability to improve air quality. Together with Oh So Spotless, we gathered all the essential information about purifying the air of your home, together with the best air-cleaning houseplants you can find.
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Can Plants Purify Indoor Air?
Some of the most notable studies on the subject have been done by NASA. NASA's research has found that specific plant species can absorb pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
These studies have also found that plants having larger and more abundant leaves are typically more effective at reducing pollutants than other plants.
Some other studies have suggested that air purification abilities of plants may differ in closed rooms versus more open spaces.
Other steps, such as improving home ventilation, can work in conjunction with air purification plants to improve indoor air quality.
Benefits of Indoor Plants To Your Home's Air
Indoor plants provide fresh oxygen
When you breathe in oxygen, you then release carbon dioxide into the air. Plants do the opposite: they take in carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. This will increase the amount of fresh oxygen in your home. Some plants, such as succulents and orchids, can complete this process at nighttime without the aid of sunlight.
Indoor plants improve humidity
Whether or not this is a benefit will depend on where you live and your personal preferences. Indoor plants can raise humidity levels through the process of transpiration—the evaporation of a small amount of moisture through a plant's leaves. Transpiration increases humidity levels in the area where plants are kept. Improved humidity can reduce sore throats, cold, dry skin, and coughs.
Air Purification Frequently Asked Questions
How many plants are required to clean the air in a single room?
The NASA study found that it will take 1 plant to purify 100 square feet of space. So, for example, if you have a 300 square foot room, then you will need 3 plants to purify the air.
Can you safely have plants in your bedroom?
Yes, it is safe to have plants in your bedroom. There are no risks associated with having indoor plants next to your bed—if you choose a plant that produces oxygen at night (such as Crispy Wave) it may even improve your sleep.
How is it possible for plants to purify toxins in the air?
Plants can purify toxins by absorbing them directly into their leaves through microscopic pores. Some studies suggest that microorganisms present in plant soil can also play a role in purifying the air.
The Best Air Purifying Indoor Plants
If you plan on adding indoor plants to your home, just know that any type of plant can improve indoor air and increase oxygen levels. However, some species are proven to be more effective. Try a few different ones around your home and see the results—just make sure to pick non-toxic ones if you have pets!
Crispy Wave is a Japanese fern that can transform CO2 into oxygen more effectively than most plants, thanks to its hardy and wavy fronds.
This plant needs medium indirect light to thrive and can remove harmful particles from the air, such as formaldehyde and benzene.
Crispy Wave is completely non-toxic and pet-safe.
Peace lilies are iconic and visually beautiful flowering plants that grow well indoors. They have large green leaves and white flowers that resemble peace flags and grow well with moderate to bright indirect light.
They can remove benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, ammonia, xylene, toluene, and trichloroethylene from the air.
Keep in mind that Peace lilies are toxic if ingested. They should be kept away from children and pets.
This perennial features compact yellow flowers that are native to China, where they are commonly used in traditional medicine against anxiety
Florist’s Chrysanthemum requires 6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day and can remove benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, ammonia, xylene, toluene, and trichloroethylene from the air.
This plant is toxic to horses, dogs, and cats and should be kept out of reach of pets.
The Bamboo Palm is a vibrant green plant that adds plenty of color and warmth to any indoor space. This plant features expansive palms that can reach up to 12 feet high, and they are known for being exceptionally easy to grow.
Bamboo Palm is non-toxic and thrives in a location that receives bright indirect light.
It can remove benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and trichloroethylene from the air.
English Ivy is a perennial vine plant commonly found outdoors that can make a distinct indoor plant when cultivated inside.
English Ivy requires about 6 to 8 hours of indirect light per day and can remove benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and trichloroethylene from the air.
English ivy plants are toxic to dogs and cats.
The Snake Plant is native to western Africa and can natively grow up to 4 feet tall; however, indoor variegated snake plants tend to grow about 2 feet at most.
It requires partial shade to grow and can remove benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and trichloroethylene from the air.
This plant is toxic for cats and dogs.
Red-edged Dracaena plants have vibrant, slender stems with red and green leaves that resemble swords.
This plant requires bright indirect sunlight and can remove benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and trichloroethylene from the air.
It's extremely toxic to cats and dogs—don't choose this plant if you have pets.
Barberton Daisies are colorful, vibrant, and very popular among plant lovers who prefer blooming plants. The pink, yellow, and orange blooms on the Barberton Daisy need to be coaxed out through full sun exposure.
Barberton Daisies can remove benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and trichloroethylene from the air.
Barberton Daisies are non-toxic and safe around pets and children.
The Spider Plant is an easy indoor plant that has long, thin green and cream-colored leaves that add a touch of soft color to any indoor space.
It needs bright, indirect light and can remove formaldehyde and xylene from the air.
Spider plants are non-toxic and safe around pets.
Cornstalk Dracaena was highly popular in Europe and only recently became popular in the United States. It features vibrant yellow and green leaves and requires filtered sunlight.
Cornstalk Dracaena can remove benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air.
This plant is considered extremely toxic to cats and dogs and should not be placed in homes with pets.
Aloe Vera is well-known for the use in moisturizers and ointments, but it's also a hardy succulent plant ideal for indoor plant lovers.
Aloe Vera requires bright light and can remove benzene and formaldehyde from the air.
This plant is extremely toxic to cats, dogs, and horses.
The Weeping Fig, also known as the ficus tree, has large, broad-shaped leaves that grow in lush clusters.
Weeping Fig requires bright indirect sunlight and can remove xylene, toluene, and formaldehyde from the air.
Weeping Figs are extremely toxic to horses, cats, and dogs.
Chinese Evergreen plants have distinct green and red leaves and are native to swamps, rainforests, and other tropical environments.
Chinese Evergreen needs partial sun exposure and can remove benzene and formaldehyde from the air.
This plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can irritate the skin and stomach if touched or ingested. Keep this plant out of reach of both pets and children.
Heartleaf Philodendron is a climbing plant with unique heart-shaped leaves. This plant is very easy to grow, even for beginners.
Heartleaf Philodendron grows well with indirect light and can remove formaldehyde from the air.
Heartleaf philodendron plants are toxic to cats and dogs.
Selloum Philodendron is a split-leaf plant with semi-woody shrub leaves. It can grow up to 15 feet, even when grown indoors.
Selloum Philodendron needs partial shade to thrive and can remove formaldehyde from the air.
Selloum Philodendron is toxic to both dogs and cats.
Elephant Ear Philodendron
Elephant Air Philodendron is well-known for its large leaves, which resemble elephant ears. This climbing plant can be trained to grow inside, just make sure you have plenty of room for the roots, as they will grow quickly.
This plant can remove formaldehyde from the air.
Elephant Ear Philodendron plants are highly toxic to dogs, cats, and other animals; keep them completely out of reach of your pets.
What Else Can You Do to Clean Your Indoor Air?
Turn on a fan, open a window, or run an air conditioner to bring fresh air inside.
Get an air purifier machine
An air purifier machine can draw air through filters that are designed to remove various substances from the air, including some materials that plants cannot purify, such as mold, dust, mites, and other types of airborne pollutants.
Clean your home
Regular cleaning is essential if you want to remove dirt, mites, dust, and other pollutants from the air.
Choose a HEPA-Filter vacuum
Look for vacuum cleaners with a HEPA-filter, which is designed to trap even the smallest particles.
Avoid using certain chemicals
You should avoid using certain chemicals in your home; specifically, avoid household cleaners that contain VOCs. Instead, opt to use natural-based cleaning products made with ingredients like vinegar and baking soda.