It’s nearing the end of February, which means I’m just about ready to unleash a sprint of spring cleaning on my entire house. I’ll wash the windows with my DIY streak-free spray, do a good dusting, and declutter the closets and cabinets. Well, that’s the plan, anyway.
What I’m most looking forward to though is opening the windows and letting some beautiful fresh air fill the rooms. This simple pleasure is one the things I miss most during the cold and dreary winter months.
I mean, my windows have been shut for months and I can’t help but feel like the air is just…stale. The solution? Well, I could grab my natural air freshening spray and go wild, but honestly, that’s no different than what I’ve been doing all winter anyway.
Instead, I decide to give myself yet another excuse to get a few more houseplants. Remember a few days ago when I wrote about buying some green leafy plants to help with winter blues? Yeah, we did that. We bought five large houseplants that ultimately double as air-purifiers, but they aren’t the best varieties available. After all, I was buying for looks. Now, I’m buying for their ability to clean the air.
Luckily, NASA’s clean air study has made this an easy pursuit. They’ve identified plants that can remove all kinds of nasty toxins from the air: formaldehyde, Volatile Organic Compounds like benzene and trichloroethylene or TCE, airborne biological pollutants, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, ammonia, and pesticides and disinfectants.
1. Areca Palm
The areca palm is a flowering houseplant also commonly known as yellow palm, cane palm, and butterfly palm.
It can grow up to 8 feet tall and makes a great focal point in any room. It doesn’t require much care—just be sure not to overwater.
It removes formaldehyde and xylene and toluene.
2. Bamboo Palm
The bamboo palm is also known as a reed palm.
It’s a low-maintenance addition to any home or office space. It requires indirect light and prefers warm temperatures set between 16-24C.
It is one of the best purifiers on this top list, effectively removing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene and toluene from the air.
3. Boston Fern
The Boston fern is also known as a sword fern.
While it can tolerate drought, it’s a bit more finicky when it comes to care requirements. It’s ideal environment is humid, cool, and has access to indirect light.
It removes formaldehyde and xylene and toluene.
The dracaena is also known as Janet Craig.
It’s a great choice for people who lack a green thumb because it’s super maintenance. That being said, if it goes without water for too long, the leaves will start browning. In that case, trim the leaves and set yourself a watering reminder. This plant species, when healthy, will bloom.
It removes trichloroethylene from the air better than most other plants.
5. Ficus benjamina
The ficus benjamina is known as the weeping fig.
It’s a flowering houseplant that prefers bright light, but will tolerate lower light environments. In the ideal conditions, it can quickly grow too large for its space, so keep an eye on repotting needs.
It removes formaldehyde and xylene and toluene from the air.
There are many varieties of the philodendron, and from the heart-shaped to the elephant ear, each is considered a powerhouse air purifier.
The philodendron species is highly adaptable, making them a great choice for novice indoor gardeners. They’re so hearty, you can even move them from indoors to a shady spot outside in the summer months.
The philodendron species is great at removing formaldehyde from the air.
7. Peace Lily
Peace lily’s are another flowering houseplant that are easy to grow.
They can thrive in shaded areas and grow up to four feet tall, making them a perfect floor plant in apartments, basements, and offices alike. They are, however, considered toxic to cats and dogs.
The peace lily is prized for cleansing the air of all common contaminants.
8. Rubber Plant
Rubber plants are another great choice for novice indoor gardeners because they are highly adaptable. They can tolerate being placed in drafty areas, and they can grow in shade or indirect light, but should be kept away from direct sunlight in the summer months.
They remove formaldehyde from the air.
9. Snake Plant
Snake plants can literally be left alone for weeks on end, making them one of the hardiest plants on this list. They can tolerate low-light environments and are not susceptible to common houseplant pests.
They’re basically a breeze to keep happy and healthy.
They remove benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene, and trichloroethylene.
10. Spider Plant
This long-leafed plant is also known as an airplane plant, spider ivy, and ribbon plant.
It is another highly adaptable houseplant that is easy to care for. The only common issue you may encounter is a slight browning of the leaf tips. They thrive with well-drained soil and indirect light.
They remove formaldehyde and xylene and toluene from the air.
If you don’t want to read the full NASA study, you can find a simplified chart of plants and the toxins they remove on Wikipedia.
A note about houseplants and pets
Sadly, many of these air-purifying plants are also toxic to cats and dogs. Be sure to check if a plant is pet-safe before purchase (or you can make the mistake that I did and buy some you think your cat won’t chew, not realizing they are poisonous). Yeah… #liveandlearn. Don’t worry, Charlie hasn’t paid much attention to any of the plants (surprisingly), but still, it’s best to steer clear for the sake of your pets.
What do you do if you dropped some money on plants that are toxic to pets? Some sites say you can toss some coffee grounds in the soil base of these plant varieties to keep cats at bay, or put moth balls near the plant. Even though Charlie hasn’t touched the plants, I put coffee grounds in each of them just in case. So far so good, but don’t worry, I’m watching like a hawk.