5 Air-Cleaning House Plants

While home really is where the heart is, it's also a haven for chemicals that lurk in the air. During the winter, our homes are sealed tight, leaving air stagnant. In the summer, there is more of a cross breeze with open windows. Either way, one of the most abundant chemicals roaming freely in our homes won't just waft away with a passing wind: formaldehyde. It is a suspected human carcinogen with possible links to lung and nasal cancer. Formaldehyde is used in home and building insulation, gas stoves, pressed wood products, floor coverings, and is in glue that holds furniture together. Any airborne concentration of formaldehyde, and many other chemicals, could irritate the respiratory tract.

The large number of formaldehyde emitters present in our homes is enough to worry anyone, even with government regulations now requiring less formaldehyde use in such products. But thanks to scientists working for NASA in 1989, a variety of houseplants have been shown to remove this compound, and many others, from the air! Make your home and a NASA space ship one in the same with these green cleaners!

>> Click here to create a custom green oasis in your home.

Garden mum: Chrysanthemums are real stars in the air-cleaning department. They filter out ammonia, formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene from the air. Benzene and xylene are components found in gasoline and can easily waft indoors from garages. Chrysanthemums are easy to find at any garden store, and they're cheap!

garden mums

Boston fern: This is the most efficient plant in removing formaldehyde from the air. Boston ferns are a little tougher to take care of: they need regular water, regular feed when they are first growing, and may require a regular misting for the leaves. Best grown in a hanging basket, put them in indirect light and in a place with higher humidity!

boston fern

Ficus: A ficus is low maintenance and can grow to be a behemoth, up to 10 feet tall, meaning they can filter a lot of airborne chemicals! Place it in bright, indirect light and allow the soil to dry between waterings. It can be moved outside during the spring and summer, and brought back in during the colder months. This plant will remove formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene, a compound found in degreasers and dry cleaning solvents.

>> Interested in making your own green cleaning supplies? Click here!


English ivy: When grown outdoors, it is considered an invasive species that will wreak havoc on your gutters. Bring it indoors, and this plant is super effective at removing formaldehyde from the air. It's not as finicky as a Boston fern, so it is easier to care for: It likes part sun, part shade, and requires an occasional watering! Its ability to climb structures makes it great for topiaries, so you can stick some poles in a pot and mold it to your liking!

ivy topiary

Spider plants: Go for this plant if you're a known plant killer. It's easy to grow, likes bright and indirect sunlight, and will remove formaldehyde and xylene from your home. This "starter houseplant" also reproduces like crazy: he'll send out shoots with flowers that eventually grow into small spider plants!

hanging spider plant

Sources: Rodale's Organic Life and Greatist.


>> Need more plants in your life? Try drinking aloe vera juice!