January 26th, 2012

Top 10 Houseplants that Clean the Air

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Groovy Green Livin Houseplants

Looking for a simple way to improve your indoor air quality? House plants are the answer.  So often we forget that the environment has the natural ability to clean itself. Many common houseplants act as an air filter, removing toxins from the air we breathe. They are known to produce oxygen from CO2 and they absorb toxins including benzene (gasoline, inks, oils, paints, plastics, and rubber), formaldehyde and/or trichloroethylene (printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, and adhesives).

Peace Lily

Peace Lily

A few years back NASA scientists studied nineteen different plants over a two year span to see which did the best job cleaning the air. They found that some house plants were better than others. The NASA studies recommend that you use 15 to 18 good-sized houseplants in 6 to 8-inch diameter containers to improve air quality in an average 1,800 square foot house. The more they grow the better job they’ll do for you.

My slightly brown thumb has been working hard to keep 7 indoor plants alive for a few years. I wish I could tell you that I always remember to water them and that I talk to them when I’m bored, but I don’t. My 7 plants are low maintenance and thriving.

If you’re like me and your thumb isn’t the slightest bit green,  it’s still worth investing in a few house plants to help remove the toxins from your indoor air. Take this list with you and add a few plants to the spaces you spend the most time indoors- your office and/or your home. When it’s time to buy a gift for your children’s caregivers, a plant makes the perfect present.

Top 10 Houseplants that Clean the Air from the NASA Studies

  1. Bamboo Palm – Chamaedorea Seifritzii
  2. Chinese Evergreen – Aglaonema Modestum
  3. English Ivy Hedera Helix
  4. Gerbera Daisy Gerbera Jamesonii
  5. Janet Craig – Dracaena “Janet Craig”
  6. Marginata -Dracaena Marginata
  7. Mass cane/Corn Plant – Dracaena Massangeana
  8. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue Sansevieria Laurentii
  9. Pot Mum – Chrysantheium morifolium
  10. Peace Lily – Spathiphyllum

I have a peace lily and I’ll be investing in a few more plants from the list. Do you have indoor houseplants?

[Day lily photo used under Creative Commons from Koshy Koshy/Flickr]

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39 Responses to “Top 10 Houseplants that Clean the Air”

  1. I’ve been combing Craig’s List looking for more houseplants. Winter is so tough indoors when you can’t open any windows!

  2. I will have to check out some of those plants. We only have one plant right now, we really need some more. Keeping my fingers crossed that my track record with plants improves.

  3. this usually also means they use a lot of water!

  4. We practically have a rainforest growing at my parents house. Plants line the window sills, giving us a green respite from the constant grey of the concrete jungle, but also occasionally flinging my mom and I into allergy attacks. Occasionally we have plants that really take over – spreading their limbs until a few have to be sacrificed – it’s amazing how some can thrive in such an environment (in our glass bubble on the 33rd floor). Sending this to my parents asap!

  5. Great post! I was just checking out air plants. Probably no value in terms of removing toxins, but gorgeous to look at: http://www.gardendesign.com/how-to/air-plants-gallery

  6. Hi Andrea, I never thought to look on Craig’s list for houseplants. What a great idea! Let me know what you find.

  7. Hi Marsha-thankfully there are plenty of plants that don’t need much TLC. My plants can go for a few weeks without watering and not much else is required. I think it’s helpful to find a place where they receive sunlight-or indirect sunlight.

  8. I too have a brown (more like black!) thumb. I had a peace lily for years! It finally died. But that thing was sooo forgiving. I also had some sort of ivy that was easy too. But alas, I have no plants anymore. What have you found that’s easy to take care of?

  9. Anyone know how to keep a Gerbera Daisy alive? They’re so happy-looking, but mine have never made it past a couple of weeks.

  10. I love this post! I have two English Ivy plants that have survived since they appeared on the table at my wedding. 13 years ago. Not one to press my luck, our only other house plant is a rosemary that I dug up to overwinter indoors.
    Nasa, thank you!

  11. Thanks for such a great list. I love lilies. I will definitely have to get one for my house.

  12. Hi Sara-Sounds like an incredible, plant filled apartment! How nice that you can bring green space into your 33rd floor. Someone over there has a very green thumb. Do you know which plants are you allergic to?

  13. Thanks Ronnie! Thank you for sharing those breathtaking photos.

  14. Hi Kristina-I think you named my top two easy plants to care for. I have a peace lily too and it is very forgiving. My two ivy’s are also pretty hardy.

  15. Hi Amity, Not having the greenest of thumbs myself, I found you this link to help you take care of a Gerbera Daisy: http://www.ehow.com/how_6580141_keep-gerbera-daisies-alive.html. Hope that helps!

  16. Wow Sarah! That’s incredible. 13 years is a long time in my book.

  17. You are so welcome! I love lilies too and they are so easy to care for.

  18. Great tips as always. I have been starring all your posts so that when I finally have an address again I can use some of these helpful eco-friendly ideas.

  19. Thanks Meg! Curious to know where you are traveling these days. Hope all is well.

  20. fantastic – I’m a great fan of houseplants for these very reasons. My favourite are peace lilies because they look so pretty too. Plus they are simple to take care of and can handle my occasional neglect ;)

  21. I’m a big fan of peace lilies too Mrs. Green. I’ve had very good luck with them -they don’t need a lot of TLC.

  22. I wrote these houseplants on a piece of paper so I will have it at the store next time. I need to buy some more plants.

    Btw, I came from the Reduce Footprints Blog Hop!

  23. Hi Katie, Thanks so much for stopping by. Let me know what type of plants you decide to get. Some are easier then others to care for.

  24. I still need to get some houseplants! Thanks for the reminder — I was just reading about them in Non-Toxic Avenger too.

  25. You’re welcome Betsy! I need to add a few more to my group. My thumb isn’t very green, but I’ve had good luck with the few that I have. Hope you’re liking Non-Toxic Avenger!

  26. Hi Lori- great tips and I too have a brown thumb!
    Thank you so much for sharing this with us on Natural Mothers Network!
    I am really looking forward to the Seasonal Celebration Linky Party #5 going live tomorrow morning and hope you’ll pop over sometime-you’re so welcome!
    http://naturalmothersnetwork.com/category/seasonal-celebration-sunday/ Have a great weekend!
    Rebecca x

  27. Hi Rebecca-It was my pleasure sharing on Natural Mothers Network. Thanks for the invitation and keeping me in the loop!

  28. [...] Plants. Why you might ask? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, our indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than the outdoor air we breath. Yikes. House-plants help to rid the air of pollutants and toxins, counteracting outgassing and contributing to balanced internal humidity. Wondering which plants will aid in cleaning up your air? [...]

  29. I have 3 indoor cats that love to bother my plants. Other than hanging them up, which I don’t mind doing with a few, are there plants that cats don’t like, which won’t be toxic to them?

  30. Hi Amy, Here’s a link I found with a list of several plants that are non-toxic for cats. http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/nontoxic-house-plantskeeping-y-137830

  31. [...] trichloroethylene (printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, and adhesives). A few years back NASA recommended to use 15 to 18 good-sized houseplants in 6 to 8-inch diameter containers to improve air quality in [...]

  32. [...] [...]

  33. [...] trichloroethylene (printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, and adhesives). A few years back NASA recommended to use 15 to 18 good-sized houseplants in 6 to 8-inch diameter containers to improve air quality in [...]

  34. [...] quality of  indoor air. To see which house plants are best, check out this article  –   Top 10 Houseplants That Clean the Air.  Remember though that overwatering houseplants will push moisture into the air, which is not good [...]

  35. Lori – we love these plant tips! Thanks for sharing the info and resources. Another good idea is to change the a/c filters regularly to cut down on dust and allergens – it does help!

  36. […] breathe clean air. This seems like a basic right, but I wonder why I find myself fighting again and again for stronger clean air regulations. And when it comes to our children and our schools I have no […]

  37. […] from our indoor air. Lori Alper, green lifestyle blogger at Groovy Green Livin wrote about the best plants for filtering indoor air (as recommended by the EPA). Peace lily’s (pictured right) are on the list of top ten plants […]

  38. […] from our indoor air. Lori Alper, green lifestyle blogger at Groovy Green Livin wrote about the best plants for filtering indoor air (as recommended by the EPA). Peace lily’s (pictured right) are on the list of top ten plants […]

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I hope you'll join me as I continue on my journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I just might stop to make some noise about issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I fight for a safer world for all of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes in your life can lead to a non-toxic, healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.

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