Given that many of us spend more of our time indoors, indoor air quality matters. Apparently, furnishings, upholstery, synthetic building materials, and cleaning products in our homes and offices can emit a variety of toxic compounds like formaldehyde.
The good news is that there’s an easy and affordable way to combat the presence of the dirty stuff we may be breathing in and it comes right from the natural world. Plants purify air, making them part of what NASA calls “nature’s life support system.”
Common indoor plants may provide a valuable weapon in the fight against rising levels of indoor air pollution. NASA scientists are finding them to be surprisingly useful in absorbing potentially harmful gases and cleaning the air inside homes, indoor public spaces and office buildings.
Here’s the breakdown of the 7 powerful plants that detox and purify indoor air:
1. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
One of the top air purifying plants identified by NASA, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue removes at least 107 known air pollutants, including carbon monoxide and nitrogen monoxide, formaldehyde, chloroform, benzene, xylene, and trichloroethylene among many others. It also produces copious amounts of oxygen throughout the night, making it an excellent plant to keep in the bedroom.
2. Peace Lily
The Peace Lily is a great general cleanser and air purifying plant that effectively removes all common indoor pollutants generated by furniture, electronics and cleaning products, so much so that it is one of NASA’s top-ranked plants for this purpose.
3. Bamboo Palm
Also known as the Butterfly Palm and the Areca Palm, the Bamboo Palm is another hardy plant that does an excellent job as an indoor, air purifying plant, with a particular penchant for formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide. As an added benefit beyond air purification, Chrysalidocarpus lutescens is also a natural humidifier, producing a litter of ambient water every 24 hours, making it a well-suited plant for dry climates or those with breathing troubles.
4. Rubber Plant
The rubber plant is especially effective at removing formaldehyde from indoor air. A favorite since the Victorian era, the plant grows very well inside and tolerates temperatures as low as 40 F (5 C) for short periods.
5. Boston Fern
According to studies, the Boston fern ranked the highest out of all plants tested in its ability to remove formaldehyde from the air. Since formaldehyde appears in everything from plastic garbage bags to paper towels, facial tissues, floor coverings, adhesives, gas stoves, and tobacco smoking, the Boston fern is a smart addition to any household or office.
6. Ficus/Weeping Fig
Ficus is a hardy plant that ends up being between two and 10 feet tall that removes pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. This low-maintenance houseplant strives in bright, indirect light. Although this plant has some serious air-cleaning abilities, it can also be taken outside in late spring and brought back indoors when temperatures are warm and well above freezing.
7. Aloe Vera
In addition to being easy to care for, aloe vera makes some serious health claims and removes formaldehyde from the air. The plant’s leaves also contain a clear liquid full of vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and other compounds that have wound-healing, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.