10 Air Purifying Plants for your Home

February 9, 2020
Air Purifying Plant on table - Sustainable Vibes

Did you know there are air purifying plants you can buy for your home to keep the air you breathe cleaner?

You would have to have been living under a rock not to have heard the discussion around air quality in and outside the home. We talk a lot at here about carbon emissions and the impact on our health. It can feel overwhelming at times. But one of the reasons we exist is to give you small, bite size, changes that you can implement yourself. To make you and your environment healthier.

So today we are combining several of our passions – health, gardening and of course a bit of retail therapy! To bring you the low down on some easy to use air purifying plants.

But don’t take our word for it. This information comes from NASA. In 1989 they published their Clean Air Study. It has stood the test of time as it is still referenced globally today. They discovered that houseplants can absorb up to 87% of harmful toxins from the air, especially in confined spaces. And in as little as 24 hours.

Plants are natural and beautiful, they are often inexpensive and they are also therapeutic to all who encounter them – reducing stress and improving mood. That said, we know not everyone is green fingered. So we have made sure to include some easy peasy ones that even a 5-year-old could take care of (well, nearly!)

As well as Carbon Dioxide, The NASA study focused on 5 key pollutants often known as VOCs and we explain a little about them below:

The Pollutants

Scientist checking the make up of several chemicals

Benzene – According to the American Cancer Society, Benzene is among the 20 most widely used chemicals in the Western World. Furthermore, it is a starting point for a lot of other chemicals so can be present in your home in glues, solvents, paints and art supplies . Benzene is also a natural part of crude oil and gasoline (and therefore motor vehicle exhaust), as well as cigarette smoke.

Benzene exposure has been linked with leukemia, as well as a range of skin irritations and blood disorders.

Formaldehyde – Formaldehyde is used in pressed-wood products, such as particleboard, plywood, and fiberboard; glues and adhesives; It is also a component of tobacco smoke. Formaldehyde and other chemicals that release formaldehyde are sometimes used in low concentrations in cosmetics and other personal care products like lotions, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and some fingernail polishes. These may raise the concentration of formaldehyde in the air inside the room for a short time, but the levels reached are far below what is considered to be hazardous.

Additonally, Formaldehyde in consumer products such as cosmetics and lotions can cause an allergic reaction in the skin and  when it is present in the air at levels higher than 0.1ppm it can cause breathing difficulties and burning sensations in the eyes, nose and throat. Some people are more sensitive than others.

Xylene and Toluene – Toluene and xylene are common aromatic solvents found in glues, inks, dyes, lacquers, varnishes, paints, paint removers, pesticides, cleaners, and degreasers. The largest source of exposure is in the production and use of gasoline

Acute inhalation produces euphoria, dizziness, headache, nausea, and weakness.

Trichloroethylene – Used in some household products, such as cleaning wipes, aerosol cleaning products, tool cleaners, paint removers, spray adhesives, and carpet cleaners and spot removers. Commercial dry cleaners also use trichloroethylene as a spot remover

Prolonged or repeated heavy exposure of trichloroethylene can cause kidney cancer. Some evidence suggests that it may be associated with an increased risks of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and, possibly, liver cancer.

Ammonia – The most common chemical used in the world, it is an ingredient in many everyday household cleaning products as well as in synthetic fibres, such as nylon and rayon. In addition, it is employed in the dyeing and scouring of cottonwool, and silk.  

Exposure to high levels of ammonia in air may be irritating to a person’s skin, eyes, throat, and lungs and cause coughing and burns.

What can I do?

We’ve put together a list 10 air purifying plants to help you breathe easy at home or in the office. Carefully selecting the right house plants can make your home a healthier & happier place to relax.

NASA recommends two or three plants in 8 to 10-inch pots for every 100 square feet. Do check if a plant is likely to be toxic to any animals or children you have in your home before you rush out and stock up.

The Air Purifying Plants

The Barberton Daisy - an air purifying plant
The Barberton Daisy

Barberton Daisy – is extremely effective in removing chemical vapours such as benzene from the air and looks pretty in your home. It is also effective at removing formaldehyde and trichlorethylene.

Chinese Evergreen – This tropical foliage plant is one of the most durable houseplants you can grow, tolerating poor light, dry air and drought and having it in your home tackles benzene and formaldehyde.

Devil’s Ivy – This houseplant with its heart shaped leaves can grow as a climber or a hanger and should last you many years if well looked after. It Is good for benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene reduction.

Variegated snake plant (known as Mother-in-law’s tongue), has tall striking bands on it’sleaves. This is a plant for beginners as it grows fast without needing much care or watering. It also packs a punch in its purifying stakes, tackling benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene and trichlorethylene.

The Broad Leaf Lady Palm - an air purifying plant
The Broadleaf Lady Palm

Broadleaf Lady Palm – striking plants that do well in the shade, they sprout individual stems topped with frong-like palms. Do not over water but do mist the leaves regularly. So a great all-rounder – tackling benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene and trichlorethylene and ammonia.

English Ivy – Ivy can make a wonderful, bright, light houseplant. It can grow long and lush and bring a bit of the outdoors inside. In particular, this variety is good for benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene and trichlorethylene .

Chrysanthemum – a favourite of the English home, chrysanthemums are one of the prettiest varieties of perennials that start blooming early in the autumn. You can have a range of colours in your home, match them to your décor!

Tackles  benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene and trichlorethylene and ammonia. Another great all-rounder.

Aloe Vera - an air purifying plant
Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera – often used for medicinal purposes, aloe vera is actually a great plant to keep in your home adding some tropical flair to your counter as an easy-going succulent. Is good for benzene and formaldehyde.

Dragon Tree – The Madagascar Dragon Tree is most definitely one of the easiest indoor plants to grow and maintain and can be brought back from the brink many times! With striking green spiky leaves that can last you a lifetime. Great for – benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene and trichlorethylene.

Spider plant – The spider plant is so named because of its spider-like plants, or spiderettes, which dangle down from the mother plant like spiders on a web. A really easy plant to grow (and will bring back memories of childhoods in the 70s and 80s…!) A heavy hitter on trichlorethylene, xylene and toluene.

Do you have any other air purifying plants you like to use to clean your air at home? Let us know if you have any experience in keeping these house plants!

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Thanks for reading!


Want to read more health related articles? Then check out our guide to ethical drinks that are low in sugar.

Thanks to the following organisations for helping me learn about the various chemicals

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