According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air quality is one of the top five risks to public health. This is a result of home products made with toxic chemicals, such as vinyl or carpeted flooring, cleaning products, and air fresheners. Small changes, like making your own natural non-toxic cleaning supplies, or using essential oils instead of commercial air fresheners can make a big difference. There are also a number of plants that can help detoxify your indoor air, and all you have to do is water them and enjoy your new fresh home. Here are some of the more effective detoxifying plants.
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)*
This tropical plant with striking white flowers absorbs pollutants such as formaldehyde (found in carpeting) trichloroethylene (found in plastics), benzene (found in paints), xylene (found in adhesives), toluene & ammonia. The peace lily also removes acetone, which is commonly used to make plastic and fibers. Acetone is also found in tobacco smoke and car exhaust, which could be present in your home environment. The peace lily requires watering once a week, keep soil slightly moist, and it blooms in medium light conditions. If you have pets, you’ll want to keep this plant out of reach as it is toxic if consumed.
Aloe Vera Plant*
You may know this plant as a sunburn soother, but it’s also a wonderful air purifier. Aloe absorbs chemicals from cleaning products and even gives you a warning sign by developing brown spots if the chemicals reach a high level. Filters benzene & formaldahyde.
English Ivy (Hedera helix)*
This glossy climbing plant comes in a variety of shades and is typically grown as a hanging plant that will also climb up walls or beams. Relatively easy to grow, English ivy is excellent at removing benzene from the air and even reduces airborne particles of fecal matter. Also filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, & toluene. Be aware, this plant is toxic to pets.
Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)
This beautiful palm tree pumps out loads of oxygen during the day and was rated by NASA as having the eighth highest removal rate for formaldehyde. Additionally, the Areca palm helps restore moisture to dry winter air at levels comparable to an electric humidifier. One of the best plants for removing airborne toxins.
Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
Bamboo palms, also called a reed palms, are popular indoor plants because they’re tall and narrow, and they thrive in indoor climates. They moisturize centrally heated indoor air and are good for removing trichloroethylene, benzene, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide from the air in your home.
Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)*
Complementing the Areca palm’s daytime oxygen production, this plant is an evening oxygen producer – making it an excellent plant choice for the bedroom. To sweeten the deal, this prehistoric-looking plant is perfect for those lacking a green thumb. The Mother-in-Law’s Tongue can withstand any environmental conditions from light to dark, and wet to dry. Grow mother-in-law’s tongue, also called a snake plant, to absorb airborne toxins and to act as a natural humidifier. Mother-in-law’s tongues are easy to care for and make trouble-free detoxifiers. Filters benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, & toluene.
Golden Pothos, Devil’s Ivy, Money Plant (Epipremnum aureum)*
This fast-growing vine absorbs formaldehyde, benzene and xylene. Placing this plant in or near the garage is good choice since engine exhaust is a primary source of formaldehyde. Thrives in gloomy spaces with little natural light and tolerates infrequent watering. It is also believed to bring the owner good luck, good fortune and good health in Chinese culture, where Money plants are often given as gifts on the Chinese New Year. Unfortunately, this type of bonsai tree is toxic to cats and dogs when ingested, and should also be kept out of reach of children.
Red-Edged Dracaena (Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia)*
Consider this plant if you’d like to add a pop of color to a room. The red-edged leaves are very attractive, and this plant can grow up to 15 feet tall–all while removing airborne chemicals from lacquers, varnishes and gasoline. Prefers bright light, but not direct sun. Water thoroughly Spring through Winter and let the soil dry out between watering.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
With its long wispy leaves and tiny white flowers, the spider plant destroys benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene – a solvent found in leather and rubber. It also helps to reduce asthma-causing mold. The spider plant grows quickly and throws out long stems that produce small flowers and decorative hanging plantlets. The plantlets, or “babies,” produced by the spider plant can be rooted and transplanted to keep throughout your home. Likes average temperatures with bright light, but can tolerate medium light. Water thoroughly and let the soil dry out between watering.
Purple Waffle Plant (Hemigraphis alternata)
Researchers at the University of Georgia tested 28 common indoor decorative plants for their ability to remove the top five indoor pollutants. And the purple waffle plant was rated one of the best detoxifiers. This showy, low-maintenance spreading plant is an excellent choice as ground cover in a terrarium or to drape over a cupboard.
Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)*
The thick, deep green leaves of rubber plants help filter formaldehyde, benzene and ammonia from the air – all while improving the aesthetic of your living space. This somewhat demanding plant requires high light and frequent deep watering, and should also be kept far away from animals or children, as it is poisonous when consumed.
Dendrobium Orchid (Dendrobium spp.)
Not just beautiful, it detoxes formaldehyde, acetone and chloroform from indoor air. Many Dendrobium species are also known to vigorously remove toluene and xylene from the air. These orchids grow quickly throughout summer, but take a rest during winter.
Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)
These plants are the best for neutralizing ammonia from cleaning products. It requires bright indirect sunlight and consistent watering.
For instant cheer as well as effective toxin absorption. Gerberas release oxygen at night and purifies air by removing benzene and trichloroethylene. They are especially helpful in bedrooms to refresh nighttime air.
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
A very effective air purifier, especially for formaldehyde. This fern thrives in humid environments when the soil is kept consistently wet and it is placed in indirect light.
If you’re a little horticulturally-challenged like I am, try indoor plants that are more resilient and harder to kill like aloe vera, snake plants and peace lilies.