Many people would like the air in their homes to be cleaner, but air purifiers can be expensive and they take up space. Electric air purifiers also use electricity, and can be noisy. But houseplants don’t make a sound, are relatively affordable, and, while they take up space, they beautify the home in addition to purifying the air.
There have been concerns raised over the years about the effects of inhaling chemical substances that out-gas from various building materials and household cleaners. Other substances, such as paint, ink, and varnish can also out-gas dubious chemicals. In buildings that are tightly sealed, the chemical levels are significantly greater.
In the average home, the winter months are typically when the house is sealed more tightly against the cold and there is less fresh air. During the spring and summer, when windows are often open and fresh air can circulate in the home, the houseplants can benefit from being outside for a while. Then they can be brought inside when they are most needed – during the winter – and help keep your household’s air clean.
Some plants are quite effective at cleaning the air in a home. Here is a list of those plants whose air-cleaning abilities were found to be exceptional in studies done by NASA in the late 1980s.
1. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
These prolific, striped plants do well in hanging baskets and pots. According to NASA research, spider plants are particularly effective at removing formaldehyde from indoor air. (Formaldehyde is present in nearly all indoor living spaces due to its prevalence in building materials and cleaning products.)
2. Peace Lilies (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)
Once again, formaldehyde has been shown to be absorbed by peace lilies. Trichloroethylene, commonly found in inks and varnishes, is also effectively filtered by peace lilies. One of the additional benefits of peace lilies is their ability to tolerate low light.
3. English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Benzene and formaldehyde have both been shown to be absorbed by English ivy. Benzene is a solvent that is used in many common products, such as detergents and paint.
4. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)
This humidity lover is another plant that was rated effective at removing formaldehyde from the air. It also filters trichloroethylene.
5. Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens ‘oxycardium’)
Most, if not all, philodendrons help purify indoor air. They prefer moist soil and rather low light.
6. Other Purifying Plants
Other houseplants that are instrumental in cleaning indoor air include:
* Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
* Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
* Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
* Dracaena deremensis – `Janet Craig’ and `Warneckii’ varieties