Five Houseplants For Cleaner Air

In our homes, no matter how clean we are or widely we open our doors, air pollutants are more concentrated there than outside. And since finding out we spend an incredible, almost 90% of our lives indoors, we set out to do a little more research in how we could grown our own fresh air while living in the heart of a city.

What are the pollutants?

While only some pollutants are dangerous, breathing the same or un-pure air can make us feel tired amongst other symptoms, even on even a cellular level. The main pollutants and sources to keep in mind are the following:

Trichloroethylene - from inks, paints, varnishes, adhesives, etc.

Formaldehyde - found in paper and waxed bags, paper towels, napkins, synthetic fabrics, plywood, etc.

Benzene - in plastics, synthetic fibres of all kinds, dyes, detergents, pesticides, glue, paint, tobacco smoke, vehicle exhausts, etc.

Xylene - from printing, rubber, leather, tobacco smoke, vehicle exhausts, etc.

Ammonia - in household cleaning products, fertilisers, etc.


A research study conducted by NASA in 1989 tested a long list of house plants to see their potential at filtering the toxins we live and breathe indoors. We realise that was a while back but studies show the results withstand the tests of our modern time too. Many plants were proven to be beneficial to our wellbeing, some more suited than others with the various pollutants they filter but also further research indicated it was also found to be dependant on our living schedules as a few of the plants by their nature are nocturnal. 

Now to the good part! Below we share our five favourites, with beauty and efficiency both top of mind:

English Ivy

English Ivy

English Ivy

Filters trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene and xylene. 4 out of 5.

A classic, beautiful plant that can drape down a bookshelf in the living room or grow up its vines in the kitchen window. (Devil's Ivy is also another option though doesn't filter quite as much.)

Needs a good amount of light (not direct) and evenly moist soil. Trim off growing tips. 


Filters formaldehyde and xylene. 2 out of 5.

With various leaf colours to choose from this is a good choice for the aesthetic sensitive! It's tree-like structure will give plenty of life to any room but beware of dropping leaves.

Needs a good amount of light (not direct) and water when soil looks dry.

Mother-in-Law's Tongue / Snake Plant

Filters trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene and xylene. 4 out of 5.

While most plants are the opposite, this one converts co2 to oxygen at night making it an ideal bedroom plant. Moreover, it also works to balance humidity which too will help you get more restful and reviving sleep.

Needs bright light and little water but it's very forgiving - good for beginners! 

broadleaf lady palm

Filters formaldehyde, xylene and ammonia. 3 out of 5.

A little wild at first appearance, it's one of the few plants that also filters ammonia. Standing tall it is a good option for bringing fullness to larger space or lacking office corner.

Needs indirect light and constantly moist soil, though no standing water.

Peace Lily

Peace Lily

Peace Lily

Filters trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and ammonia. 5 out of 5!

Needs light but shade-loving and water frequently to keep soil moist.

If you want a little more bloom, this plant has a beautiful white flower and filters all of the five air pollutants tested above. Elegant and stylish, it's statement is bound to steal hearts!


Please keep in mind that some of these plants can be mildly toxic to animals and even humans if ingested. Always take caution if you have little ones running around your home.

Images sourced from Pinterest.