Air-Cleaning Plants

Remove toxins from the air and leave your home safer for you and your family.

By Zazel Loven


Next time you go shopping for home cleaning supplies, consider adding large-leaved houseplants for every room in the house. They reduce unhealthy pollutants as well as airborne bacteria and fungi while adding the humidity needed to combat respiratory and allergic conditions.

According to B. C. Wolverton, Ph.D., a retired NASA research scientist, indoor air pollution can be a major threat to our health. To determine how the earth produces and sustains clean air through plants, Wolverton and his fellow NASA scientists studied plants in controlled environments. The researchers found that houseplants can purify and revitalize air in our homes and offices, protecting us from the negative effects of such common toxins as ammonia, formaldehyde, and benzene.

For years, people have been told to stay indoors during smog alerts. Today, the list of known indoor pollutants is just as scary, reports the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Asbestos, pesticides, fumes from detergents and solvents, fibers from carpets, draperies, insulation, even glass—not to mention mold and tobacco smoke—all add up to a cleanup best tackled by Mother Nature. Plant leaves are able to absorb pollutants and send them to the roots, where they become food for microbes.

To get the most out of your houseplants, set them up (two to three per room) so there is plenty of space around each one for ideal air circulation. Keep the air moist by misting plants. Avoid locations in the rooms where there are drafts or sudden temperature changes. Pollutants are absorbed through the leaves, so keep the leaves clear of dust by wiping gently with a damp cloth.

In the future, we will be cleaning up environmental pollution with plants. Right now, add houseplants to each room to clean the air you and your family breathe.

Top 10 Air Cleaning Plants
1. Areca palm
2. Reed palm
3. Dwarf date palm
4. Boston fern
5. Pothos
6. English ivy
7. Australian sword fern
8. Peace lily
9. Rubber plant
10. Weeping fig