Best House Plants for Cleaning Indoor Air

A two year study conducted by NASA has shown that common household plants are indeed helpful in removing harmful toxins from the air around them. They discovered that spider plants rank as one of the top air purifying houseplants

Their study showed that having specific species of plants in the home can help to reduce indoor pollution levels. Plants help to purify the air around them. This means that the air within your home can be a little cleaner to breathe if you simply invite a few friendly little houseplants to come and share your home with you.

You may be wondering why it is necessary to clean the air inside the home when you have worked so diligently to maintain a clean and germ free interior. Well it turns out that all the extra housecleaning and the household cleaning products that you have been using to do it might actually be adding to the level of toxins contained in the air within the home.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies indicate that air levels within an enclosed area may be two to five times more polluted than that of outdoor levels, and in some cases, indoor air may actually be up to one hundred times more polluted than outdoor air levels.

Where Does all That Indoor Air Pollution Come From?

Some of those indoor toxins are produced within your home and some arrives through improper ventilation. Chemical leakage within the home occurs from such common household items as rugs, paint, photo copiers, pesticides, plastics, pressed wood products, household cleaners, and even the very air fresheners designed to mask those annoying odors within your home.

Cigarette smoking, radon gas, mildew and mold are other indoor pollution contributors. Inadequate or faulty ventilation systems may also allow for the entry of harmful gases into the home.

During the early and mid 1900's these pollutants were not much of an issue because building ventilation standards asked that fifteen cubic feet per minute of outdoor air be allowed for each person within the building. These guidelines generally allowed for ample fresh air within an enclosed area.

It was a tightening of ventilation standards in the 1970's that brought the issue of indoor toxins into our focus. Indoor air standards were compromised when the 1973 Oil Embargo set off a chain of energy conservation measures that were designed to tighten air quality controls within homes.

After these measures were put in place homes were designed and built to be much more airtight and thereby also more energy efficient. The building ventilation standards were tightened to allow for only five cubic feet per minute of outdoor air per occupant, windows and doors were tightly sealed to prevent air leakage, and air vents, heating units and air conditioners were designed to minimize external air return within the home.

The Second Leading Cause of Lung Cancer is Radon Gas


Sick Building Syndrome Brought Indoor Air Issues to our Awareness

These tightened energy standards created an overdose of indoor pollutants. Individuals found themselves poisoned by the very air within their enclosed work or home space. This was the start of an illness syndrome that we now refer to as Sick Building Syndrome. 

Carbon Monoxide, Formaldehyde, Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulfur Dioxide, Monoxide, Radon gas, lead dust, asbestos fibers, pollen, dust mites, mildew, mold, bacteria, pet dander and other indoor pollutants were now at a level where they were poisoning people.

Standards were readjusted to allow levels between fifteen cubic feet of fresh air per minute per person and sixty cubic feet of fresh air per minute within buildings depending upon the buildings risk for pollutants.

Despite these measures high indoor pollution levels still exist within many homes, some due the consequences of previous energy conservation guidelines, and some because of high toxicity levels of chemicals cleaners and other common household products that are within the home. Your home may not be as clean as you believe it to be.

Vinegar, baking soda, green tea, and lemon are natural cleaners that can help to reduce some of a
household's chemical overload. Another simple step to help improve your home's air quality is to adopt a few of the air cleansing houseplants. They can help to remove some toxins from your home. 

The houseplants that were shown to best help clean the contained air were surprisingly of a wide variety of species. Another surprise in NASA's study was the discovery that each type of plant in the study was shown to best remove a distinct set of toxins from the air around it.

The Philodendron, Spider plant, and the Golden pothos were most effective in removing formaldehyde from the air. While the flowering plants Gerbera daisy and Chrysanthemum were best at removing benzene from the air.

The Bamboo palm, Peace lily - Spathiphyllum, Fig tree or Ficus, Dracaena massangeana cane, Mother-in-Law's tongue, English Ivy as well as Chinese evergreen species were all also shown to be effective plants for removing pollutants from an enclosed air area. Any of these top air purifying plants would be wonderful to put on your adoption list.


It is important to note before you purchase a Philodendron that this plant is poisonous due the oxalates found within it. This toxicity can be passed to humans through a simple touching of the plant but poisoning is most often noticed if ingestion of the plant occurs. It is therefore not a plant that is suitable for homes with young children or pets that might accidentally poison themselves by playing with or consuming the Philodendron.

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