Yes, they actually do remove toxins from the air.

By Christie Calucchia
October 14, 2019
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Houseplants not only liven up the interior of your home, but they can actually improve air quality and make your space healthier, too. Believe it or not, multiple scientific studies site some serious health benefits that come from decorating your home with live botanicals. They promote overall well-being by boosting your mood and making you feel calmer, and certain plants can even remove toxins from the air. Now that’s some serious home décor multi-tasking.

In 1989, NASA studied how plants can purify air while looking into whether or not humans could live in space for long periods of time. The study found that many common varieties of houseplants are effective in eliminating toxins, like formaldehyde — a chemical used in some building materials and in the production of certain household products that has been linked to cancer — in controlled spaces. A more recent study, conducted in 2009 by the American Society for Horticultural Science, also found that some plant species can remove VOCs (volatile organic pollutants, like benzene and trichloroethylene) from the air.

If creating a healthy indoor environment that’s free of toxins is your main goal, there are specific houseplants to invest in for serious air purification. B.C. Wolverton, Ph.D., one of the original scientists who worked on NASA’s study of air purifying plants in the 1980s, determined the best plants for removing toxins in the air based on four distinct criteria: Their ability to remove chemical vapors, how easy they are to grow and maintain, their resistance to insect infestation, and their rates of transpiration (evaporation of water from plant leaves). 

Additionally, Vadoud Niri, Ph.D. lead a similar study in 2016 investigating if houseplants could remove VOCs from indoor air, and found that some plants were more effective than others at doing the job. Based on Niri’s research and Wolverton’s conclusions (which can be found in his book How to Grow Fresh Air) we’ve outlined nine of the best indoor plants that are scientifically-proven to purify air. Keep scrolling to shop these healthy houseplants and introduce a bit of greenery (and cleaner air!) into your home.

Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus Lutescens)

Amazon

This palm tree thrives in bright spaces and is perfect for sprucing up any room in your home. It’s an eye-catching, lush houseplant that’ll look good while absorbing air pollutants.

available at amazon.com, $40 

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)

Amazon

Effective at removing toxic substances from the air, this small spider plant delivers major results. Plus, the wild, elongated leaves add a trendy boho-chic look to any space.

available at amazon.com, $23 

Lady Palm (Rhapis Excelsa)

Amazon

Because this plant is slow-growing, it makes for a long-lasting houseplant that looks stylish to boot. It features multiple bamboo-like trunks and removes toxins like formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, and toluene from the air. 

available at amazon.com, $25

Rubber Plant (Ficus Elastica)

The Sill

This tropical tree thrives in medium to bright indirect sunlight, and is sometimes referred to as the rubber plant since it produces a latex sap that was once used to make rubber. Although it looks a bit synthetic, rest assured that it is real, and it’ll help clean the air in your home.

available at thesill.com, $25

Bromeliad (Guzmania Lingulata)

Amazon

An easy-to-care-for table plant, the Bromeliad is fairly drought-tolerant, though you’ll want to do your best to water the top inch of soil without letting it become too saturated (so it can maintain its gorgeous appearance). It thrives in indoor light—making this a great option for a home office or any room without tons of natural light—and has been proven to remove pollutants from the air.

available at amazon.com, $22

“Janet Craig” Dracaena (Dracaena Deremensis)

Amazon

This durable houseplant will stay alive even in low indoor lighting—so if you have a dimly-lit apartment, this may be the air purifying plant for you. All it takes is a bit of water when the soil looks dry to keep your home’s air as healthy as possible. Talk about easy upkeep.

available at amazon.com, $15

English Ivy (Hedera Helix)

Amazon

Known as English Ivy, the long and lavish vines on this plant make for a striking decoration in any home. Go for a bohemian look and pot one in a hanging planter to let it freely climb the walls as it reduces indoor air pollution (and even harmful allergens like mold and fungus).

available at amazon.com, $20

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum Wallisii)

1-800Flowers.com

One of the most popular (and widely-used) indoor air purifying plants, the beautiful Peace Lily is part leafy plant and part delicate flower. Although it looks elegant and gentle, the plant means business when it comes to removing toxins—like benzene and formaldehyde—from your home.

available at 1800flowers.com, from $45

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis Exaltata)

Amazon

Another plant that would look lovely in a hanging planter or perched high up on a shelf where its thick leaves can grow on full display, the Boston Fern is easy to care for and actually thrives indoors (unlike many other plants). It simply requires regular watering and a light misting every now and then to decorate your home while it cleans the air and boosts your mood.

available at amazon.com, $36

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