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AirDetoxificationEnviromentNatureResilient HealthResilient Health Book

How to Use Houseplants to Clean Indoor Air

houseplant air cleaner

As fires rage across the west and health guidelines require that we social distance to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, many of us are spending more time at home than ever before.  And some wonderful, creative DIY home projects have blossomed as people are working to enhance their surroundings. 

If you’re looking for a quick, fun DIY project that will help you enjoy the relaxing effects of nature and improve your indoor air, consider adding houseplants to your living space.

Did you know that research conducted by NASA found that certain houseplants can filter out common VOCs and improve indoor air quality?* Check out some of these amazing plant helpers!

Helpful Houseplants

Aloe veraAloe (Aloe vera)

This easy-to-grow, sun-loving succulent helps clear formaldehyde and benzene from a variety of household sources. Beyond its air-clearing abilities, the gel inside the leaves is also helpful for minor cuts and burns.

Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

A resilient plant with rich foliage and tiny white flowers that is pet-safe. This helps remove benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and xylene. It thrives in cool-to-average home temperatures, dry soil, and bright indirect sunlight.

Gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)

Removes trichloroethylene (which may be  released from dry-cleaned clothes) and benzene. It does well with at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. Mist leaves a couple of times a week, and make sure the soil is well drained.

Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’)

With sharp leaves, this plant is also known as mother-in-law’s tongue and is one of the best for handling formaldehyde. It can thrive in low light and humid conditions, so it is ideal for the bathroom.

Golden pothos aka Devil’s Ivy (Scindapsus aures)

Fast-growing vine that does well as a hanging basket and helps with formaldehyde. It needs bright, indirect light. This is a poisonous plant and should be kept away from small children and pets

Chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium)

Helps to filter out benzene. It does well in bright light and requires direct sunlight for buds to open. Choose a floral mum instead of garden variety, which is for outdoors.

Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)

Helps filter xylene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde. It grows slowly but can reach fifteen feet tall, so it may be best for a room with high ceilings and moderate sunlight. Purple-red edges on ribbon-like green leaves.

Warneck dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’)

Known for its white stripes along the edges of its leaves, this dracaena grows inside easily and can reach a height of twelve feet. It helps with benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.

Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)

This ficus removes formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. It does best in bright, indirect light.

English ivy (Hedera helix)

This plant filters formaldehyde. It does best with moist soil and four or more hours of direct sunlight each day.

Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema Crispum ‘Deborah’)

Easy to care for, this plant thrives in low light and humid air. It helps with a variety of air pollutants. If your air is too dry, mist the leaves occasionally.

Bamboo palm aka reed palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)

One of the best plants for handling benzene and trichloroethylene. This small palm produces flowers and small berries and prefers humidity, bright, indirect light, and well-drained soil, growing to about five to seven feet tall.

Heart leaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium)

A climbing vine, this removes VOCs such as formaldehyde and is low-maintenance, requiring indirect light. Avoid with children and pets as it is toxic when eaten.

Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)

This easy-care plant is also beautiful and does well in shade with weekly watering. It filters formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, toluene, and xylene.

 

*If you are mold sensitive, I would advise against adding houseplants, as there is a potential for mold growth in the soil.

*Please check the safety of these plants for pets. Some of these plants can be toxic to cats and dogs.

 

This blog post includes tips and information from my book Resilient Health: How to Thrive in Our Toxic World.

6 comments
    1. Dr. Porter

      Thanks for your question. The worst chemicals that computers emit and that goes into dust are the brominated flame retardants and I haven’t seen any studies as yet of plants that can filter those compounds. The best thing there is to make sure to dust frequently with a microfiber or electrostatic cloth so that you are not further spreading it into the air.

      In addition, often computers are put onto furniture that is made from processed wood that emits formaldehyde so the plants that filter that could be helpful such as peace lily, succulents (like aloe), spider plant, and snake plant. And it is possible that some of those plants also can mitigate the effects of EMFs (electromagnetic fields) although I’ve only seen one “study” showing good effects of the Dracena compacta species.

      The effects of EMFs can be hard to address as the research is still developing. A couple of things that I have done in my own space is to use a salt lamp next to or on my workstation and to sit on a grounding mat (https://www.earthing.com/)

  1. Melissa Miller

    I would warn that the peace lily, like all lilies, is extremely poisonous for pets. Even a few grains of the pollen can cause kidney failure and death in a cat.

    1. Dr. Porter

      Thank you Melissa. I have added a link to the post so people can check on the safety of houseplants for their pets. I (and our furry friends) appreciate the heads up!

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