The 18 Best Air Purifying Plants [Stay Green. Stay Clean]

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Bringing the outdoors in with beautiful plants is a great way to add a touch of color to your home and boost your mood. But did you know they can actually improve the indoor air quality in your house?

Although we can’t see them, germs and airborne toxins from household products, materials and furniture pollute our inside air. The good news is that a clean air study by NASA concluded that certain plants clean toxins and make it easier for us to breathe.

And with many of us spending lots of time indoors these days, there’s never been a better time to add a touch of greenery to your scenery.

Elle Meager, Founder of Outdoor Happens, also adds some tips about watering your air purifying plants. Meager says, “the best thing to do for air purifying plants is to take them outside for a good soak and hose-off. Plants breathe just like we do, through little pores in their leaves.”

She continues, “when those pores get clogged, they can’t breathe nor clean your air as efficiently. Give them a good rinse and soak the container with soil in water for an hour or two.”

Don’t worry if you don’t have a green thumb. Many of the plants on the list are quite simple to care for. To make it easy, we’ve broken them down into low maintenance varieties and plants that need a little more TLC.

Here are some of the top plants that literally bring a breath of fresh air to your living and working space.

Devil’s Ivy or Pothos (Low Maintenance)


There’s almost nothing easier to grow or harder to kill than the pothos plant (as I can personally attest to). This lush, inexpensive plant looks great in pots and hanging baskets but can also be grown in water alone.

Care: Water when dry. Its quick-growing tendrils will need a trim every now and again to keep it looking perky.

Removes: xylene, benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene

Cautions: Toxic to pets

Spider Plants (Low Maintenance)


Another great choice for those without an especially green thumb, spider plants thrive in indirect sunlight and send out little shoots called spiderettes which can be used to grow new plants.

A NASA study discovered this little powerhouse removed 95% of formaldehyde from a sealed chamber in 24 hours!

Care: Water two to three times a week.

Removes: formaldehyde, xylene

Cautions: Non-toxic to pets

Philodendron (Low Maintenance)


The deep green, heart shaped leaves of the philodendron bring a soothing touch to your home. And like the other plants in this category, you don’t need a green thumb to keep it alive.

Care: Put it in bright, indirect sunlight and water when soil is half dry.

Removes: formaldehyde

Cautions: Toxic to pets

Related: 5 Ways Plants Help With Your Mental and Emotional Wellbeing

Aloe Vera (Low Maintenance)


This hardy little succulent is not only useful for easing your sunburn, but is also a great air purifier.

Andrew Gaumond, Horticulturist, Botanist and Floral Designer at Petal Republic shares more insight on the aloe plant. Gaumond shares, “as well as purifying the air the great Aloe Plant also shows tell-tale brown and yellowish spots when there are excessive toxins in the air.”

He also adds, “aloe is also a great ointment for minor burns and insect bites when applied directly to the skin.”

Care: The aloe loves bright, indirect sunlight—water when soil is dry.

Removes: formaldehyde and benzene

Cautions: Toxic to pets


Snake Plant or Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Low Maintenance)


This yellow-tipped succulent can grow up to two meters high and releases oxygen at night, which makes it a great plant for the bedroom.

Gaumond from Petal Republic adds, “the much-loved snake plant is also one of the few plants that actively converts carbon monoxide into oxygen during the night (most house plants only go through this process during daylight hours).”

Care: The snake plant can tolerate lots of different light conditions but prefers indirect light. It also thrives in dry conditions, so be sure not to overwater.

Removes: formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, toluene, trichloroethylene

Cautions: toxic to pets

Related: 13 Reasons Why You Need An Air Purifier

Dracaena (Low Maintenance)


Dracaenas are great for plant owning newbies and come in a big variety of sizes and shapes. There’s the dragon tree that can grow up to eight feet, the exotic rainbow plant and the corn plant.

Care: These air cleaners like indirect sun, and you should avoid overwatering them as it can cause root rot.

Removes: xylene, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, toluene, benzene

Cautions: toxic to pets

Flamingo Lily (Low Maintenance)


This exotic plant will add a welcome splash of color to your space. And because they love humidity, it’s a good choice for the bathroom.

Care: Keep this little lovely in indirect sunlight and water her once or twice a week, and she’ll keep you smiling all year long.

Removes: xylene, ammonia, formaldehyde, toluene

Cautions: Toxic to pets

Dwarf Date Palm (Low Maintenance)


The arching fronds of the pygmy palm make it a lovely indoor plant. In a big enough container, it can reach up to several feet.

Care: The date palm likes indirect light. Keep the soil moist but never soggy. Also, be aware that it doesn’t like hard water, which turns its leaves brown.

Removes: xylene, formaldehyde

Cautions: Non-toxic to pets. Just watch out for its sharp spines!


Lady Palm (Low Maintenance)


This perky palm loves humidity and will be happy in your bathroom. And though they grow slowly, they can reach up to fourteen feet!

Care: The lady palm can grow in the shade to full sunlight but likes full, indirect sunlight best. Keep the soil moist but not soggy as this can cause root rot.

Removes: xylene, formaldehyde, ammonia

Cautions: Non-toxic to pets

Barberton Daisy (Low Maintenance)


These pert, colorful little plants can produce flowers all year long when indoors. The blooms usually last four to six weeks.

Care: These daisies like lots of natural light and plenty of water with well-drained soil.

Removes: formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, benzene

Cautions: Non-toxic to pets

Boston Fern (Needs a little more TLC)


This tropical plant is at the top of the list for removing formaldehyde and is happy in humid places like your bathroom.

Emma Sothern, Owner of Garden Zoo, shares her insight on the Boston Fern. Sothern says, “if you suffer with humidity issues in your home, this plant’s a perfect choice. The Boston fern is a natural humidifier, purifying the air and removing formaldehyde, xylene, plus other nasty toxins from your home.”

She continues, “It works best in cool temperatures so place it into an air-conditioned room of your home (with a humidity level of 50-80%), It can even help you with dry skin issues, which are a common side effect of too much aircon.”

Care: This decorative plant likes indirect sunlight. Keep the soil damp and spray the leaves a few times a week to keep them from drying out.

Removes: xylene, formaldehyde

Cautions: Non-toxic to pets

Ficus or Weeping Fig (Needs a little more TLC)


This common, indoor tree can grow up to ten feet tall and is ideal for large spaces. But it will need special attention to avoid dropping its leave as all too often happens.

Care: The ficus likes indirect, variegated light and high humidity. Mist the leaves regularly, but only water it once the top of the soil is dry.

Removes: trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene

Cautions: Toxic to pets

Related: How to Start a Patio Garden (Gardening Without a Yard)

Bamboo Palm (Needs a little more TLC)


This pretty plant will add an exotic flair to any room and can grow up to four to twelve feet.

Genna Lorainne, Plant Expert at Fantastic Services, adds, “bamboo palms are great for bigger rooms. They grow fast and can become extremely large. Because of its big size, it is capable of purifying a lot of air and eliminating toxins like benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.”

Lorraine also shares, “when placed into an empty corner in the living room or home office, it brings a cozy atmosphere.”

Care: This palm likes low light conditions and medium to high humidity. Keep the soil moist but not soaked, and drain off any extra water when you give it a drink.

Removes: trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene

Cautions: Non-toxic to pets

Rubber Plant (Needs a little more TLC)


This evergreen tree from India has shiny, deep green leaves and can grow between six and ten feet.

Care: Rubber plants like bright but indirect sunlight as long as it’s not too hot. Keep the soil moist but not soaked and be sure to wipe down the leaves to keep them shiny.

Removes: carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene

Cautions: Toxic to pets


English Ivy (Needs a little more TLC)


English ivy grows well outdoors but as one of the top air purifiers makes a great indoor plant as well. They look especially charming in a basket or tucked into a windowsill.

Care: Ivy likes a lot of light and good drainage. Make sure the soil feels dry before watering.

Removes: carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, benzene

Cautions: Toxic to pets and humans

Peace Lily (Needs a little more TLC)

Elle Meager from Outdoor Happens 

Peace lilies not only look elegant but are one of the top air purifiers according to NASA.

Elle Meager, Founder of Outdoor Happens, adds, “I used to sell many Peace Lilies for indoor air-purifiers during my 15 years as plant nursery owner.” She continues, “a plant like the Peace Lily is quite happy in a low-light position, but if you’re growing a geranium, for example, it needs a very well-lit position.”

Care: These lilies thrive in most lighting conditions, but the flowers may not bloom in low-light. Keep the soil slightly moist but not soaked.

Removes: formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, benzene, xylene, ammonia

Cautions: Toxic to pets and humans

Chinese Evergreen (Needs a little more TLC)


With their bright, pretty patterns, these Asian evergreens make a cheerful addition to your home but will need extra care.

Lorraine from Fantastic Services, also shares, “Chinese evergreen is a proven air cleaner, it contributes to eliminating toxins such as trichloroethylene, formaldehyde and benzene. This plant enjoys humid conditions and low light and thrives in areas like bathrooms.”

Care: These plants do best in medium to low light. They also like high humidity and regular misting. Also, be sure the soil dries out between watering and be prepared to repot every few years.

Removes: formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, benzene, carbon monoxide

Cautions: Toxic to dogs

Chrysanthemum (Needs a little more TLC)


Mums are popular flowers for arrangements and also happen to be powerful air cleaners. Just be aware that it’s the flowers that do all the filtering so they only clean the air when in bloom.

Care: These plants need bright, but indirect sunlight, good airflow and should be watered with warm water only. Make sure the soil is moist but not soaked.

Removes: formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, ammonia

Cautions: Toxic to pets


Adding plants to your living space not only makes it cozier and boosts your mood, but it can provide health benefits too. You can’t go wrong with any of these 18 air purifying plants. Who knows, maybe you were destined to be a plant person all along!

You might also be interested in: 14 Houseplants Safe for Cats (and Dogs)

Sherry De Alba

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