In 1989, NASA launched a Clean Air study to determine which household plants are best at purifying the air. As the research has shown, indoor air contains a large number of harmful chemicals, like benzene, trichloroethylene, ammonia and more. But NASA scientists claim that common indoor plants may provide a valuable weapon in the fight against rising levels of indoor air pollution. Some of them can absorb up to 85% of potentially harmful gases, cleaning the air inside our homes, indoor public spaces and office buildings.

According to the research, the indoor pollutants that affect our health are:

  • Formaldehyde. Found in particle board and upholstered furniture, carpets, cigarette smoke, plastic tableware and natural gas. It can cause allergies, mucous membrane irritation, asthma and various skin diseases.
  • Trichloroethylene. Found in printing inks, paints, lacquers, carpet and fabric cleaners, and chlorinated water. Tetrachloroethylene is a strong carcinogen that causes eye and skin irritation, damages the liver and kidneys and provokes psychomotor agitation.
  • Benzene. Found in paint, lacquers, varnishes, cleaning products, liquid soaps, rubber and cigarette smoke. This carcinogen that accumulates in adipose tissue can cause leukemia, nervous excitement (like that caused by alcohol), shortness of breath and convulsions. It also lowers blood pressure.
  • Ammonia. Found in computer parts, cigarette smoke, and household cleaners. It causes a dry and sore throat and cough, provokes chest pain, as well as swelling of the larynx and lungs.
  • Xylene. This is used to make plastics, paint, lacquers and glue. Xylene can also be found in vehicle exhausts, leather products and tobacco smoke. It’s irritating to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract.

We at Enlighten are convinced that household plants are much more than just beautiful decor. Here are top fifteen plants that you should consider growing in your house in order to have better health and cleaner air.

Anthurium andraeanum (Flamingo lily)

testing/shutterstock.comThe flamingo lily is great at moisturizing the air and saturating it with water vapours. This plant also absorbs xylene and toluene and converts them into harmless substances.

Gerbera jamesonii

memaggiesa/shutterstock.comThis bright flowering plant is helpful in removing toxic agents such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air. Place it in a warm, well–lit area.

Scindapsus (‘Golden Lotos’)

 Panuwat.T/shutterstock.comThis is one of the best plants to grow in shade. Golden Lotos is also a great way to get rid of benzene and formaldehyde in your home. But keep in mind: Scindapsus is a poisonous plant, which should be kept away from children and animals.

Aglaonema

Pekka Nikonen/shutterstock.comThe Chinese Evergreen plant doesn’t need much light in order to do just fine, but it does require moist air. It has proved to be very effective at filtering benzene and formaldehyde from the air. Aglaonema’s juice and berries are toxic, though.

Chlorophytum ( ‘spider plant’)

Bozhena Melnyk/shutterstock.comThe spider plant, with its rich foliage and tiny white flowers, is a very popular choice for an indoor plant. But it’s not just pretty to look at – studies have confirmed that it helps to remove benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene from indoor air. Moreover, this plant is absolutely harmless to children and animals. 

Ivy

atelier avant-garde/shutterstock.comThis plant is a great choice for low lighting conditions. Ivy is good at absorbing benzene, carbon-monoxide, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. It also helps eliminate some allergens, e.g. mold.

Azalea

Brykaylo Yuriy/shutterstock.comThis beautiful flowering plant can help keep your air free of formaldehyde, which is released from the plywood, furniture and carpets. Azalea blooms for a long time, but requires attention.

Sansevieria (‘Mother-in-Law’s Tongue’)

Federico Quevedo/shutterstock.comSansevieria is very hardy, being able to tolerate almost any location and conditions and still grow. It excels at removing formaldehyde, benzene, trichlorethylene from the home or office. At night, this plant also absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen. 

Dracaena marginata

<-33">Geza Molnar/shutterstock.comOne of the best ways to get rid of xylene, trichlorethylene and formaldehyde in your home is to purchase this plant. Dracaena grows quite slowly, but it’s definitely well worth the wait. You’ll want to make sure you have enough room for this plant, as it can grow very tall. It is better to place Dracaena in a spot with moderate sunlight.

Philodendron

<-36">Pinon Road/shutterstock.comPhilodendron is known as a ‘workhorse’ for filtering out formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals from the air. Preferring low-light areas, this plant is very easy to take care of. But remember: Philodendron can be dangerous for children and animals. 

 Nephrolepis (‘Boston Fern’)

KPG Payless2/shutterstock.comThe Boston Fern is excellent for moisturizing and cleaning the air of formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene.  It grows best in shade and requires regular watering.

Spathiphyllum ( ‘Peace Lily’)

<-43">Frank Kebschull/shutterstock.comThe Peace Lily plant is a very common houseplant which is known for its brilliant ability to remove toxic agents such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air. It also can help you get rid of toluene and xylene in your home. Moreover, cleaning the dust from the leaves will make this natural air purifier even more effective.

Bamboo palm

<-47">Victeah/shutterstock.comThis plant is one of the best for filtering out benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. Place it next to lacquered furniture and it will vaporize harmful chemicals.

Schefflera

<-50">Flower Studio/shutterstock.comSchefflera has proved to be effective at soaking up formaldehyde, toluene and benzene from the air. With its glossy foliage that radiate out from a central stem, the Schefflera plant is also called an umbrella tree in some countries. 

Chrysanthemum

<-53">phatpong pattana/ shutterstock.comThis pretty flowering plant not only makes for a great home decoration, but is also great at removing formaldehyde, xylene, benzene and ammonia from indoor air.