air purifying plants

Six Indoor Plants That Clean The Air And Remove Toxins

I always thought that in our homes we’d be safe from pollution. It turns out I was dead wrong and let me tell you, I feel very betrayed.

I never knew that even indoors, there are invisible pollutants that are hazards to our health. In fact, statistics say that indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air.

Mother Nature provides the solution. There are indoor plants that clean the air and remove toxins. It’s not just our inner hippies coming out: NASA performed a study that proved that house plants were effective at cleaning indoor air.

Below, I’ll list the common toxins and chemicals that can be found indoors and then I’ll list some easy-to-grow house plants that make for great air purifiers.

Six Chemicals That Can Pollute Your Indoor Air

Although there are arguably dozens of chemicals and toxins that can pollute your indoor air, I’ve focused on six of the most prominent chemicals that you can find in your home.

1. Ammonia
Ammonia is a colorless alkaline gas that naturally forms due to decomposition. It can have a pungent odor associated with it. If you have consistent exposure, you can start experiencing health problems such as eye irritation, rashes or skin irritation, sore throats, respiratory issues, and issues with your lungs.

Fertilizers and household cleaners are two of the most common sources of ammonia. If you keep pets indoors and don’t clean up their poop fast enough, their waste will also release ammonia.

2. Benzene
Benzene is a highly flammable and colorless liquid that has a slightly sweet odor associated with it. Benzene is widely used to create other chemicals and products like lubricants, plastics, dyes, rubber, and as a solvent.

The most common way people get exposed to benzene is by breathing in air from an air conditioning unit.

3. Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is a gas that has a very strong smell. It’s a colorless gas that is commonly used in dozens of household products.

You can find this gas in pressed wood products like particleboard and plywood. It’s also in glue and solvents, permanent press fabric, and insulation materials.

4. Toluene
Toluene is a water-soluble liquid with a very strong odor. This chemical is what gives paint thinner its characteristic smell. If you get exposed to this chemical, you can experience skin irritation, itchy eyes, respiratory irritation, coughing, trouble breathing, and liver or kidney damage.

Household products that contain toluene include aerosols, paint, paint thinners, varnishes, adhesive products, and even nail polish. If you have a smoker in the house, you are also exposing yourself to toluene.

5. Trichloroethylene
Trichloroethylene is a non-flammable and clear liquid that has a slightly sweet smell associated with it. Exposure can cause rashes, eye irritation, and breathing problems.

It’s an industrial solvent so you can also find it in paint thinner, wood finishes, stain removers, and paint removers.

6. Xylene
Xylene is a colorless liquid with a sweet odor. Exposure to this chemical can cause nervous system problems, dizziness, headaches, vomiting, respiratory problems, and nausea.

While xylene is most frequently released from industrial sources such as car fumes, and when it is used as a solvent, it can also make its way into our homes through paints, varnishes, adhesive products, rubber cement, and nail polish.

Six Indoor Plants That Clean the Air and Remove Toxins

If you have big windows that open to clean air, then these indoor pollutants shouldn’t be too much of a problem. However, if you live in houses or condominium units with poor ventilation or the weather outside simply doesn’t allow for open windows, then you can benefit from having a couple of these plants in your home.

Being a challenged plant grower myself, I made sure to choose plants that are easy to take care of.

1. Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)

Removes
Formaldehyde, Toluene, and Xylene

What It Is
This beautiful ornamental plant comes from India and Madagascar. You may have heard it be called the Butterfly Palm due to the gracefully arching leaves and multiple stems. Summertime brings a spray of pretty yellow flowers that can bloom for months. It is ideal as a house plant because it usually doesn’t reach more than 12 feet in height.

What It Does
Not only is this plant effective at pulling toxins from the air, but it also works to emit large amounts of water vapor into the surrounding air. It basically doubles as a natural humidifier.

Care Instructions
This is a very hardy plant that likes a variety of indoor environments. However, it does best in a humid area with a loam-based potting soil. This plant likes bright and indirect light. You should water it enough to keep the root ball damp but not soggy.

2. Dracaena “Janet Craig” (Dracaena deremensis)

Removes
Benzene, Formaldehyde, and Trichloroethylene

What It Is
This large ornamental houseplant is also one of the easiest to grow. It easily reaches 10 feet high by three feet wide, and it can live for decades with the proper care and maintenance. It has large tapering leaves that have a waxy appearance with a deep green coloring.

What It Does
Its wide spreading leaves make it extremely effective for clearing the contaminants out of larger rooms in your home. Additionally, the deep green coloring adds a bright splash of color to your environment all year round.

Care Instructions
This plant does best when you have it in indirect sunlight that comes from the east and west. They do very well in humid environments. You want to mist them every few days to keep the root ball moist. If it’s possible, avoid fluoridated water (water with fluoride) because it can cause brown leaves.

3. Florist’s chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)

These mums come in a variety of colors including red, pink, and yellow.

Removes
Formaldehyde, Ammonia, Benzene, Toluene, Trichloroethylene, and Xylene

What It Is
Originating in China, this annual houseplant is one of the best for purifying your indoor air. They can reach one to two feet high, and they have very bright and eye-catching flowers that bloom for six to eight weeks. They’re a very hardy indoor plant, and the flowers are offset by deep green foliage.

What It Does
This smaller plant effectively pulls toxins and pollutants out of your air, carpeting, upholstery, and fabric.

Care Instructions
This plant thrives in cooler conditions between 13-18°C, and you want bright but indirect sunlight because direct sunlight will wilt the flowers. The soil should be moist at all times. This is especially true during the flowering period.

Toxicity
The leaves of this flower are extremely toxic to children and pets. Keep it out of their reach.

4. English Ivy (Hedera helix)

English ivy

Removes
Formaldehyde, Benzene, Toluene, Trichloroethylene, and Xylene

What It Is
If you have a black thumb and very few plants survive under your care, English Ivy is the vine for you. This climbing plant is extremely easy to care for, and it’s a gorgeous addition to any household.

What It Does
This bright green vine has signature short, wide, and three-pronged leaves. You shouldn’t expect much growth over the first two years, but the third year is when it takes off and climbs everything in sight. It pays to take care of an English ivy indoors because it effectively cleans five out of the six toxins from your indoor air.

Care Instructions
There is very little involved with establishing or maintaining this plant. It does well in all light conditions. All you do is keep the soil moist until it establishes itself. It can then tolerate dry conditions without a problem.

5. Peace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)

Spathiphyllum

Removes
Formaldehyde, Ammonia, Benzene, Toluene, Trichloroethylene, and Xylene

What It Is
This ornamental plant is native to Asia and the tropic regions of the United States. You get ribbed and very glossy dark green leaves that beautifully offset the pure white flowers. They can grow from two to almost four feet high and span two feet wide.

What It Does
Along with effectively cleaning all of the major toxins out of your indoor air, this plant also releases a huge amount of moisture into the air. This can help soothe respiratory issues for people who live in dry climates.

Care Instructions
The Peace Lilly does very well in cool and dim areas, and this is why you find them in offices, hospitals, and bedrooms. Ideally, this plant wants higher humidity with indirect sunlight. However, it will do just fine semi-shade, and you should water it thoroughly and let it dry out between waterings.

Toxicity
This plant’s leaves contain calcium oxalate, and this makes them toxic to cats, dogs, and children when ingested.

6. Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)

Chamaedorea seifrizii
Photo Source: balconygardenweb.com

Removes
Formaldehyde, Benzene, Toluene, Trichloroethylene, and Xylene

What It Is
Also called the reed palm, this plant has very thin and long leaves that reach and spray outwards into a thick canopy. The lacy, green fans add a splash of deep green coloring to any room you place it in. They can reach several feet high, and they take three to five years to fully mature.

What It Does
This plant is very effective at clearing out five of the six major indoor air pollutants, especially formaldehyde. It can lend a slightly tropical feel to any room. Additionally, it works to add moisture to your air.

Care Instructions
This plant thrives in very bright but indirect sunlight with temperatures ranging between 60-70 F (16-24 C). You should water it generously during the growing months in the spring and summer. Cut back on your watering in the fall, and always dump the excess water out of the tray to prevent root rot.

These six indoor plants that clean the air and remove toxins can provide a pleasing aesthetic to any room you place them in while effectively cleaning your indoor air. They’re great choices for beginners, and you’ll have a thriving indoor garden in no time when you establish and maintain them.

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