20 Best Plants for Cleaning Indoor Air

Discover the top 20 plants that aid in the removal of pollutants.

February 26, 2020

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Houseplants for Health

Since Americans spend most of their time indoors, healthy air quality should be a top priority. Read on to find out the top plants that aid in the removal of pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene and carbon monoxide.

Remember: some plants and plant parts can be toxic. Keep them out of the reach of children and pets.

English Ivy

Hedera helix

Beautiful as a groundcover or a houseplant, English ivy is a classically elegant choice that is also excellent for removing harmful chemicals found in the home. It can grow in full shade to full sun, can be trained into shapes, and with proper care, it is likely to survive for several years.

Bamboo Palm

Chamaedorea seifrizii

Since the bamboo palm, or reed palm, prefers part sun or shade, it makes a great houseplant with the added benefit of aiding in the removal of harmful elements such as benzene and formaldehyde.

Chinese Evergreen

Aglaonema modestum

The Chinese evergreen is an easy-care plant that thrives in low to medium light. It generally grows to one or two feet. Though it helps to maintain healthy air quality in the home, it is important to note that the Chinese evergreen contains an irritant that can be toxic to pets.

Gerbera Daisy

Gerbera jamesonii

When placed indoors, this popular annual is useful in removing benzene and providing mood-enhancing beauty to the home. However, keep in mind that the gerbera daisy does best in warm temperatures, at 75 degrees F or higher.

Dragon Tree

Dracaena marginata

With a leaf color that ranges from green to purple, this plant would be a gorgeous addition indoors or outdoors. It would also fit right in at the office, as it can tolerate low light.

Mother-in-Law's Tongue

Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii'

A hardy succulent, mother-in-law's tongue is a great houseplant for beginners and can survive in some of the toughest conditions, including a wide variety of temperatures and light conditions. However, be careful not to overwater (or to not water at all).

Pot Mum

Chrysanthemum morifolium

Good for removing benzene, the pot mum is also a colorful addition to the home in fall when many other flowering plants are past their prime.

Peace Lily

Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa'

Known for its ability to fight against toxic gases such as formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, peace lilies are relatively easy to care for and even show signs of drooping when they need to be watered. They can be mildly toxic to pets and humans, so it's important to wash your hands after touching the plant.

Learn More: How to Grow and Care for Peace Lily Plants

Spider Plant

Chlorophytum comosum 'Vittatum'

This easy to care for houseplant thrives in bright, indirect light and works hard to remove the air of harmful pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene. Spider plants dislike soggy soil, so let them dry out slightly between waterings.

Mass Cane/Corn Plant

Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana'

Proven to help remove formaldehyde from the air, the mass cane/corn plant is one of the most popular varieties of Dracaenas for its lovely foliage that ranges from green to yellow. They look stunning in tree form but can also be grown as shrubs.

Rubber Tree

Ficus elastica

Rubber trees have been shown to absorb and break down harmful chemicals in the air. Their large, glossy leaves also take in the carbon dioxide we exhale and convert it to oxygen. Grow them in well-drained potting soil, water regularly and apply liquid fertilizer when they're actively growing.

Lemon Button Fern

Nephrolepis cordifolia

Lemon Button Ferns, relatives of Boston ferns, are useful for removing toxins and cleaning indoor air. They grow about a foot high and thrive in indirect light as long as they have sufficient humidity. They're more drought tolerant than most ferns, so let their soil dry out slightly before watering again.

Pothos

Epipremnum aureum

Pothos earned high marks in a NASA clean air study for clearing the air of benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, carbon monoxide and xylene. These vining tropicals tolerate low light, although it may make their leaves revert to solid green. Use them in hanging baskets or containers and let them trail over the edge of a table.

Philodendron

Philodendron

Philodendrons come in a variety of sizes and colors, and their leaves can have many different shapes. Like 'Xanadu,' the variety shown here, these plants adapt easily to most homes with medium to bright, indirect light. Researchers say they remove indoor toxins like formaldehyde, which may be present in carpets and cleaning products.

Parlor Palm

Chamaedorea elegans

Parlor palms, popular during the Victorian Era, are still popular today, thanks in part to their ability to adapt to the low light conditions found in most homes. According to NASA's study on plants that clean the air, they can also remove benzene and trichloroethylene from your home or workplace.

Aloe vera

Aloe barbadensis Miller


Aloes are easy-to-grow succulents and clean the air of benzene and formaldehyde when given off by paints, cleaners with chemical ingredients and other products. The plants need a sunny spot in your home. Grow them in a cactus potting mix or add perlite or sand to a regular potting mix to improve drainage. Use the gel from a piece of broken or cut aloe to treat minor burns.

Broad Lady Palm

Rhapis excelsa


Known as broad lady palm or broadleaf lady palm, this plant can reduce the ammonia found in some indoor cleaning products. It also filters out benzene, nitrogen oxide, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene. Tolerant of low light, these palms can grow to six feet tall, so they're ideal for dim corners. They like moist soil but need good drainage.

Fittonia 'Frankie'

Fittonia argyroneura

Commonly called nerve plants, fittonias are low-maintenance houseplants that filter toluene, benzene and trichloroethylene from indoor air. This variety, 'Frankie,' has pink and green leaves, while others have white and green or green and red foliage. Fittonias grow three to six inches high, so they're perfect for terrariums and dish gardens. Give them high humidity, moist, well-drained soil and bright, indirect light.

Ficus

Ficus benjamina

NASA found that ficus trees, or weeping figs, improve indoor air by removing pollutants like formaldehyde and xylene. Weeping figs are very sensitive, and their leaves can turn yellow and drop when you move them to a new location or change your watering habits. The leaves usually grow back when the plant adjusts. Most ficus like bright indirect or filtered light. Give your plant high humidity and wait until the top of the soil is dry before watering.

Flamingo Lily

Anthurium andraeanum


This evergreen plant, red anthurium, is also known as flamingo lily for its flamboyant flowers. Researchers for NASA’s Clean Air Study report it can cleanse indoor air of ammonia, toluene, xylene and formaldehyde. Anthuriums need bright, indirect light and high humidity, so mist them regularly and keep their soil moist, but not soggy.

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