Certain indoor plants can remove up to 87% of toxic elements from the indoor air. And that is backed by NASA and other prominent organizations.
To some extent, we all love such houseplants to add beauty. It makes more sense to have some indoor plants that clean the air and remove toxins in addition to adding beauty.
And don’t worry. Almost all of those houseplants are safe for cats and other pets. I will talk about them in this article and strongly recommend having them in your house too.
17 Best Indoor Plants For Clean Air
Your home gets toxic elements from the paint, varnishes, insulations, wooden treatments, carpeting, cleaning items, and so on.
So, to keep the indoor air clean and safe for everybody, you should have some of those plants in every room including your bathroom. Here is a list to make your pick:
- Peace Lily
It’s very popular among indoor gardeners. The reason is it’s very easy to grow and hard to kill. They can survive under any lighting conditions.
And yes, it does purify the indoor air by removing toxins like trichloroethylene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, xylene, and benzene as well.
Apart from air purification, the gorgeous flowers will bring extra beauty to your home as well with an amazing scent.
But if you have pets, I must warn you! Peace lilies are toxic to cats & dogs.
The reason it’s hard to kill is that it requires less maintenance and can survive the low light. Yes, peace lilies thrive under medium to low light and require less watering too.
Most people kill their peace lilies by overwatering them. It’s a drought-tolerant plant. So, if you keep overwatering it, you will end up with a drooping peace lilies problem.
But that’s not the end of the world. Usually, the sign of drooping leaves indicates that it’s thirsty.
If you ever face that issue (which everyone usually does), follow this guide on restoring drooping peace lilies.
As peace lilies are forgiving plants, they will restore fast if you take steps before it’s too late.
- English Ivy (Hedera Helix)
Well, it needs extra care but when it comes to purifying the air of your home, English Ivy is second to none. In fact, it’s commonly known as “Universal Plants” since it’s good for everything!
So, it has become a common houseplant for every household. Suitable for any plant lovers even for the newbies.
Yes, it’s a bit fussy when it comes to taking care of English Ivy. It requires a moist environment to thrive and you need to mist it often. Keep the soil moist (not wet) and ensure indirect but bright light.
Overwatering will kill it like most other houseplants. Use your finger to check the top of the soil so that you can understand it’s dry enough for re-watering.
But it’s worth the extra hassle as it removes formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and benzene from your indoor air.
Your English Ivy will be good to go. If you are a pet lover, keep your dog/cats away from it.
If you want to get rid of the toxic air pollutants from your house naturally, have some Chrysanthemum in all of the rooms. Every home is full of paint, glue, plastics, and detergent usages.
Such items produce benzene which is a common air pollutant. And Chrysanthemum filters it out very effectively.
Ohh…did I mentioned they can brighten up your rooms with their vivid colors as well?
Just make sure it gets enough bright light with regular care.
- Areca Palm
It’s different than other types of palms like the Parlor Palm and you must not confuse the two. Because the level of maintenance and care is completely different!
Don’t get me wrong. Both the Areca and Parlor palm are air-purifying but the first one requires bright indirect sunlight. It can’t grow well in low-light! In fact, any negligence on your part will lead to its demise.
But if their placements have direct access to the sun, their leaves turn yellow! Also, you can’t keep the soil dry for a long time. Instead, the soil needs to be moist constantly.
If you are sure you are up to this level of high-maintenance, go ahead! They can grow as long as 6 to 7 feet long. So, such taller houseplants help to make bold statements in your room.
Besides, it helps a lot to keep the toxic elements of the air at a minimum.
- Weeping Fig
Nowadays, it has become a popular indoor plant. This houseplant keeps your indoor plant clean and pure by removing formaldehyde and xylene from the air.
But why are they called ‘Weeping Fig’?
Well, it has some growing conditions like bright but indirect light, moist soil, humid environment, and so on. When such requirements are not met, their leaves ‘weeps’.
Naturally, it’s a slow-growing plant. But if it’s not growing at all or too little, you may need to move it to a brighter spot. Yes, it needs moderate watering but doesn’t water it unless the soil is dry out.
Another bad news…it’s toxic to cats and dogs as well. L
- Chinese Evergreen
Apart from adding beauty and uplifting the mood, Chinese Evergreen helps to remove xylene and formaldehyde from the air to keep it clean.
Another reason for having this plant is that it’s a hard-to-kill plant which is ideal for lazy plant lovers. It can tolerate all the negligence you can imagine.
Chinese Evergreen can survive the poor light condition. It can survive any drought and dry environments as well. Every two weeks, it needs watering only once. And before you give it water, make sure the soil is dry.
However, it can’t tolerate the cooler temperature and you should keep it away from drafts!
- Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)
Like the weeping fig, it also removes the toxic elements like formaldehyde and xylene from the indoor air. But that’s not the only reason why it’s so popular and common.
Spider plants are NOT toxic for your beloved pets. It’s safe for cats and dogs. Besides, it produces many spiderettes and that’s why it’s so easy to propagate spider plants from those spiderettes!
More so, unlike the weeping pig, it’s an easy-growing and low-maintenance houseplant. As it does not require any direct sunlight to grow, it can be your beautiful hanging plant for the corner of your room.
If you decide to have spider plants in your house, just keep in mind that there are a few varieties of them like green, curly, and variegated.
Apart from ensuring indirect sunlight, you need to be careful about overwatering. Let the soil dry before you water it again.
- Aloe Vera
Not much but Aloe Vera removes formaldehyde and benzene from the indoor air for sure.
I am not gonna talk about its other benefits or why you should have it in your home apart from being an excellent plant to remove air pollutants.
Rather I would like to talk about what you must do to grow this amazing houseplant.
The first thing to remember when caring about Aloe Vera is that it’s a succulent type. So, like all the succulents, it must have proper drainage. Also, it needs a dryer area of your home to thrive.
As it needs a lot of lights, they will grow better if you place them to the South or West facing window. Also, when it comes to watering, make sure the soil is dry in between the watering.
Most people don’t have success growing Aloe Vera because of the overwatering. That’s why proper soil drainage is important for the Aloe Vera.
- Azalea (Rhododendron Simsii)
Well, it’s not a plant but a shrub and this evergreen shrub will fight the formaldehyde generated from plywood and foam insulation in the air.
As it’s a flowering shrub, it will go well in any of your rooms including the guest rooms.
However, you need to provide a colder temperature with bright but indirect light. That’s where they grow well.
You need to keep the leaves moist too since this shrub likes a humid environment. So, mist its leaves every few days to ensure that environment. And you should not let the dead leaves rot in the soil too.
I am talking about the Heart Leaf Philodendron that can remove VOCs (especially formaldehyde) from the indoor air with minimal maintenance requirement.
Like many house-purifying plants, Philodendron likes low-light and humid environments. So many people keep it in the bedroom and bathroom. It can survive the low to medium light, gladly.
Unlike the pothos, the leaves of the Philodendron will loose their variegation if you place them in the darker rooms. That’s a major difference between the pothos and Philodendron.
I just pointed out so that you can understand that Philodendron can adapt themselves under various lighting conditions.
- Boston Fern
It does clean the air and it’s a highly decorative plant but it’s a high-maintenance house plant. So, if you are not sure you can’t meet its growing requirement, you can skip this plant.
So, what are those requirements?
The right placement is important when it comes to growing Boston Fern successfully. It’s a humidity-loving plant. So, the place should be humid enough.
Apart from high humidity, the place should be cool enough with indirect light. More so, the soil should be moist all the time. They will die if you let the soil dry.
The safe way to ensure its regular water is to place them in a pebble of a tray filled with water. Or you can simply mist it twice a week.
I also soak my Boston Fern in water once a month for thorough watering apart from misting and keeping the soil moist.
So, it’s moderately difficult to grow it but it’s safe for cats and dogs!
Also, such plants look great in various settings. Following the right maintenance tips will let you have the spark to your home! You can set it on plant stands, tables, or just keep it ceiling hung.
- Gerbera Daisy
If dry cleaning is a common thing in your home or any location, the air therein is full of highly toxic trichloroethylene.
Gerbera Daisy is simply unparalleled to remove the trichloroethylene from the air! Also, the vivid colored flowering plant will enrich and brighten up your room with rich texture for sure.
However, it needs ample bright but indirect light to grow. And you must provide well-drained soil for its survival.
- Warneck Dracaena
Another one of the best indoor plants for clean air is Warneck Dracaena. It combats air pollutants released from the varnishes and oils effectively.
They are familiar with their white stripes along the edges. So, they look beautiful no matter where you place them. Yes, they will thrive under any lighting conditions.
This tall houseplant can grow as large as 12 feet long and luckily, it’s an easy-growing plant that every plant lover can grow with minimal effort.
- Snake Plant
Also known as the ‘Devil’s Tongue’ and it’s an excellent plant to clean the air. Like any ideal air-purifying plant, it removes trichloroethylene, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene from the intoxicated indoor air.
The reason I call it one of the best indoor plants for clean air is because it’s easy to grow. Propagating snake plants is easy as well. It does not require much maintenance yet snake plants grow fast.
That’s why you see them a lot in malls and offices because of their extreme capacity to survive in dark spaces. Apart from cleaning the air, they are widely used in such locations to separate spaces
Yes, it requires bright light to grow well but it can also tolerate low light. Just don’t let the direct sunlight touch it. Also, between your watering cycle, make sure to allow the soil to dry first.
Watering it once every two weeks is more than enough. However, these easy-growing snake plants are bad news for your pets!
- Golden Pothos
To remove toxins and clean the indoor air, having the golden pothos is an ideal choice. It can keep the toxic elements in the air like formaldehyde, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene at a minimum level!
The good news is it’s one of the toughest houseplants that can survive low light and irregular watering. And that’s the reason many people love this low-maintenance but fast-growing houseplant.
In fact, if you do forget about it for a long time, it will still survive. And yet, it will keep purifying your air silently!
But is there any sad news?
Yes…Golden pothos is also toxic to dogs and cats.
- Dragon Tree
If you are a beginner gardener, you can think about having the Dragon tree inside your home as well. It purifies and cleans the air by removing formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, and xylene from the air.
The reason it’s beginner-friendly is that it’s a drought-tolerant plant. So, if you forget to water it, the Dragon tree will still survive. And it’s very forgiving!
Yes, it’s a slow-growing plant. So, you must have some patience. Apart from ensuring indirect bright light, you need to provide it distilled water.
Let me explain why…
The dragon tree is very sensitive to fluoride which is commonly available in tap water. So, if you keep watering it tap water and you notice its discolored leaves—immediately provide it distilled it.
Also, don’t worry about the humidity requirement. Normal household humidity is enough for the Dragon tree.
On a side note…it’s safe for humans but toxic to pets.
- Rubber Plant
When it comes to removing formaldehyde, rubber plants come to the top of the list. If your house or office has any particle-based furniture, just keep in mind that they are held together by formaldehyde-based glues.
And rubber plants remove such formaldehyde from the air greatly. They are slow-growing plants but can survive any low-light conditions.
For your home, you can propagate rubber plants without much hassle and fill every corner of your rooms.
Caring Tips For Air Purifying Indoor Plants
You can get multiple types from the above list or just one kind —whatever you like. But ensure the right tips to get the most out of them as mentioned below:
- Buy Healthy Houseplant Only
If you decide to buy it from your local nursery, make sure to avoid plants with brown edges, spots, wilted leaves, or spindly growth.
You should get such air-cleaning plants that are insect-free and healthy for a better survival chance.
- Consider The Lighting Requirements
There are 4 lighting requirements for houseplant like low, medium, high, and ultra-high. If you can’t place your plants near the window or glass doors, don’t buy plants that require high lighting.
To be safe, I always recommend getting plants that grow well under medium to low light conditions. They will grow better anywhere inside your home.
- Right Watering & Food
Not just air cleaning plants, both overwatering and under watering is bad for any houseplants. So, how to stay safe?
Well, stick your finger into the soil up to one inch. Now, now need to water it if the soil is moist. But if it’s dry, it needs water. That’s a fool-proof method you can try for any plant.
And as a rule of thumb: give your plants less water than usual during the winter.
For people who often forget to water their plants, I always recommend having self-watering plants like the dracaena.
Now, what about plant food?
Well, you can find plenty of high-quality all-purpose plant food in the market. Read their instructions and follow them. Usually, your plant needs less water during the fall and winter.
- Right Atmosphere
You can use any container for your plants as long as it does not look weird. Just make sure it’s a well-drained container. Any all-purpose soil for the plant should work.
But again, make sure the soil does not hold excess water!
Toxic elements in the air are common nowadays and it’s getting worse day by day. But that does not mean you should allow the toxic indoor air to be inhaling by your kids and other loving family members.
Yes, there are many costly air purifiers but why not let the nature clean the air while brightening up your home as well?
So, have some indoor plants that clean the air and remove toxins in your home and let your family have some fresh and healthier air!
- Purification of formaldehyde-polluted air by indoor plants of Araceae, Agavaceae and Liliaceae.
- The Impact of Plants on the Reduction of Volatile Organic Compounds in a Small Space.
- Foliage plants for removing indoor air pollutants from energy-efficient homes.
- [PDF] Interior landscape plants for indoor air pollution abatement.