Looking for natural ways to purify the air in your house? NASA has the answer. In 1989, NASA compiled a list of air-filtering plants as part of a clean air study, in an attempt to find ways to clean the air in space stations.
NASA scientists found out that some common indoor plants are naturally capable of removing toxic chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene. Aside from the natural ability of absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing it as oxygen, these air-filtering plants also help neutralize the effects of sick building syndrome, which is mostly caused by poor indoor air quality.
Use any of these 8 common indoor plants to improve air quality in your home without resorting to chemical cleaning products.
Florist’s chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)*
Also known as Florist’s Daisy and Hardy Garden Mum, this beautiful and colorful perennial is a member of the Asteraceae family, the same family as daisies, marigolds, and sunflowers. It’s one of the most efficient indoor air-filtering plants. It removes benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, ammonia, toluene, and xylene. These mums need monthly fertilization and watering 2-3 times a week.
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)*
Don’t be fooled by a peace lily’s pristine, elegant looks. It’s a killer when it comes to acetone, alcohols, benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, ammonia, toluene, and xylene. It’s quite easy to care for and doesn’t need to be watered daily.
English ivy (Hedera helix)*
This evergreen vine is a heavy climber, and the same kind of vine that frames typical old English cottages. It’s effective at filtering benzene, trichloroethylene, toluene, and xylene from the air. NASA considers it the best at filtering formaldehyde. It’s low maintenance and grows quickly even with little water and sunlight.
Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)*
This evergreen shrub with irregular stems and characteristic bright red edges is a Madagascar native. It filters benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, toluene, and xylene.
Variegated snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’)*
Better known as Mother-in-law’s Tongue or Saint George’s Sword, this perennial evergreen is known for its long, stiff, and vibrant green leaves with yellow highlights. It filters benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, toluene, and xylene. It’s resilient even with less sunlight and irregular watering.
Broadleaf lady palm (Rhapis excelsa)
This fan palm species is a favorite in offices and malls because it’s low maintenance. Its distinguishing feature is its saw-toothed leaf tips. It filters formaldehyde, ammonia, toluene, and xylene. It requires little humidity and sunlight.
Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
Commonly known as Gerber daisy, this flowering perennial is known for its bright, colorful blooms in intense shades of red, pink, orange, and yellow. It filters benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. This plant requires full sunlight and a moist soil every day.
Flamingo lily (Anthurium andraeanum)*
This plant is bold and eye-catching with its vibrant red bloom and yellow flower stem. It filters formaldehyde, ammonia, toluene, and xylene. It thrives in modern temperatures and requires monthly fertilization, a moist soil, and minimal sunlight.
* Beware that some of the plants on this list (indicated with an *) can be hazardous to dogs, cats, and horses according to a list compiled by the ASPCA.