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9 Cleansing House Plants to Detoxify the Air in Your Home

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Elizabeth Renter

Pollution isn’t only a concern when you’re outdoors—it’s a concern in your home as well. From the carpet on the floor to the cleaning products you might use, there are numerous contaminants that could be infiltrating your domicile. Ideally you would replace these toxic substances with less toxic counterparts, but that isn’t always practical. Fortunately, research has shown certain houseplants to have air-purifying effects that can make it easier to breathe while beautifying your surroundings.

Researcher Kamal Meattle is an environmental advocate and air quality innovator in his native India. There, he advocates for “massive banks of plants instead of massive banks of HVAC equipment” for cleaning the air. He and others interested in natural air-cleaning methods have identified several plants that are great for removing toxins, including carcinogens from the air.

Meattle calls Areca Palm the “living room plant” because it is a daytime “oxygen factory”, according to MindBodyGreen. He recommends having four of these plants in the home per resident.

He recommends Mother-in-Law’s Tongue as the “bedroom plant” as it is a nighttime oxygen maker. Making your room resemble a tropical forest, he recommends having six to eight waist-high plants per person.

Finally, Meattle recommends Money Plants as “the specialist plant” which is able to filter formaldehyde and several other volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from the air.

NASA study from several years ago also identified houseplants that have air-purifying effects in the home. That agency, which should know a thing or two about having quality, breathable air, recommends:

  • Devil’s ivy
  • Mother-in-law’s tongue
  • Peace lilies
  • Ficus
  • Snake plants
  • Gerbera daisies

The NASA research reveals:

“In this study the leaves, roots, soil, and associated microorganisms of plants have been evaluated as a possible means of reducing indoor air pollutants. Additionally, a novel approach of using plants systems for removing high concentrations of indoor air pollutants such as cigarette smoke, organic solvents, and possibly radon has been designed from this work.”

Additional houseplants that are relatively easy to grow and can help filter the air include: the purple waffle plant, English ivy, variegated wax plant, asparagus fern, spider plant, red-edge dracaena, bamboo palm, and chrysanthemum.


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