Houseplants: Removing Indoor Pollutants

Posted on March 2, 2016
Small potted plant on window sill

Much of the research on how houseplants clean indoor air comes from NASA. According to an article published in Environmental Health Perspectives, “as NASA researchers explored the possibilities of long-term space habitation, it became evident that the air quality in a tightly sealed space capsule would quickly become contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals released by the materials used to manufacture the capsule interior.” For more than 30 years, NASA scientist B.C. “Bill” Wolverton studied plants as air and water purifying systems and found that plants are highly effective in removing toxic agents from the air. A study conducted at Penn State University was able to prove that three specific houseplants reduced ozone in a simulated indoor environment.

Best Houseplants for Cleaning Indoor Air

If you aren’t sure where to begin looking for the best cleansing indoor houseplants, check out the following:

  • Peace Lily – The Peace lily is a perfect indoor houseplant, particularly if you live a super busy life. The peace lily is a hardy plant that prefers indirect sunlight and can tolerate a bit of neglect. Peace lilies do best in high humidity, and should be misted often with warm water.

  • Bamboo Palm – The Bamboo palm is also referred to as the “reed palm,” and it makes an excellent houseplant. The bamboo palm responds best to bright indirect light and does not like to be over-watered. Bamboo palm may lose some of its foliage as it first adjusts to life indoors, but this is a normal occurrence.

  • Rubber Plant – The Rubber plant is truly one of the best houseplants you can grow. Rubber plants love semi-sun lighting, and you want to be sure to avoid direct sunlight – especially in the summer. When these plants are young, you may need to support them with a stake and you should wear gloves when you prune rubber plants because their milky sap can irritate skin.

  • Philodendron – The philodendron is one of the most durable houseplants and is available in both climbing and non-climbing versions. Philodendrons prefer medium-intensity lighting, but they can tolerate low lighting as well. Never place a philodendron in direct sunlight because doing so burns the leaves and stunts the growth of the plant. Philodendrons do need to be misted frequently for optimal health.

  • Spider Plants – The Spider plant is one of the plants studied by both NASA and Penn State University and is one of the most effective air-cleaning houseplants available. The spider plant prefers medium to bright light, and you should avoid extended amounts of direct sunlight.

Houseplants increase the level of oxygen indoors and improve the overall quality of the air your breath. In addition, houseplants are a way to naturally boost humidity in your home and studies have shown that these plants can have an impact on both your physical and mental health. A study from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia found that houseplants reduced anger, anxiety, depression and fatigue. Getting a houseplant is one of the easiest ways that you can improve your indoor air quality and your overall health.

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