Top 5 air-purifying house plants

Today we have an extraordinary preoccupation with cleaning up the environment and the air that we breathe outside, but give little (if any) consideration to the quality of the air in our homes.

Indoor plants out of focus

Step in, houseplants that clean the air to transform your home into a haven of fresh air and relaxation. This top 5 air purifying house plants guide will give you our favourite indoor oxygen plants – in no particular order because they are all brilliant!

The Best Air Purifying Plants Are…

Before we get stuck in, it is important to highlight this isn’t some green-fingered mumbo jumbo. A study by NASA (1989) into clean air came to the conclusion that there are a good number of air-purifying house plants. These not only improve the oxygen levels in your home but also trap dust, airborne germs and toxins. It seems a little too easy, but it is perfectly true that adding one indoor plant to a room can change the air inside completely.

Green leaves of Calathea, close up.

A more recent study conducted in 2019 reiterated the earlier study and provided additional insights.

What are the stats?

  • Indoor plants remove harmful gases and replace them with oxygen.
  • Better regulation of humidity makes the air more breathable.
  • House plants trap and collect dust and germs.

All of this means that for those with medical complaints like asthma, allergies or other breathing difficulties, adding air-purifying house plants could be life-changing.

Spider Plants for Air Purifying

The first plant to make our list is the spider plant, so called because of its spindly long leaves that resemble spider’s legs. Spider plants for air purifying are incredibly versatile and come in all shapes and sizes, from small pot plant versions to big sweeping and hanging basket varieties. Spider plants are also very interesting to look at, giving house guests plenty of reasons to compliment you.

Propagating spider plants from runners (stolons) by placing in water to encourage root growth in baby plants

But enough of its charming looks, why does it make our list? Well, NASA says that the spider plant can remove 90% of the formaldehyde from the air in your home. Formaldehyde has been linked to many types of cancer so the relatively small spider plant packs a mighty punch indeed. Alongside this almost unique quality, spider plants also work in the same way as other house plants and filter carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen.

Hedera Goldchild

Next up is the graceful Hedera Goldchild. which is a bit of a multi-talented house plant when it comes to cleaning the air. In fact, it goes further and has among many other things, mould-prevention qualities. Houses that have Hedera Goldchild have been documented as having fewer mould-related problems which is impressive considering how problematic mould can be.

Hedera Goldchild

Aside from staving off mould, this plant is a popular bathroom plant because it … has some wonderful cleaning properties in this setting. Hedera Goldchild is also an attractive, but not too showy houseplant which allows it to blend seamlessly into almost any room and look elegant too.

Aloe Vera

No best indoor plants for clean air list is complete without Aloe Vera. The plant with remarkable healing properties is also adept at cleaning and filtering out harmful toxins like formaldehyde and benzene which are often found in cleaning products.

Air purifying plant Aloe Vera

Of course, Aloe Vera has a whole host of medicinal purposes and the succulent is particularly useful when soothing wounds or for general day-to-day skin care. It is for this reason that we think a house isn’t a home without at least one aloe vera plant.

Snake Plant

If you want to combat a range of toxins within the home, then look no further than the Snake Plant which is like the houseplant all-in-one toxin warrior. A single snake plant is effective against:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Xylene
  • Benzene
  • Toluene
  • Trichloroethylene

You may be wondering how many of these chemicals and toxins you actually have in the home and the answer is likely to be, more than you think. Many household detergents, cleaning agents, cosmetics and polishes are laden with toxins and chemicals that make them incredibly good at their respective jobs but not so good for the contained air within the home.

Snake Plant in pot against cream background

The snake plant is also a bit unusual because it is known to release most of the oxygen it makes at night which could in theory aid in a better night’s sleep. It also has a slightly sinister appearance which is nothing but trendy and cool.

Red Cyclamen

So far, our air-purifying house plants have all been rather green and leafy. The Red Cyclamen can filter toxins like formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene from the air as well as add splashes of colour to your home.

Cyclamen in several different colours, in terracota pots
Red Cyclamen

Cyclamen rarely feature in an air purifying house plants list because they don’t have a wealth of air purifying qualities, but we think the fact they look so different to typical air purifying house plants makes them a worthy entry, especially if you want something a little different in your home.

They are a little fussier than other house plants on our list, requiring a sunny area, lots of natural light, and moist, well-drained soils. But the work pays off because you are rewarded with a floral house plant that looks sensational and keeps the air in your home clean. 

What Houseplants That Clean the Air Do

Exotic houseplants in white pots arranged on a metal plant stand in an urban apartment.

As you can see from our list, plants that filter air work in a myriad of ways and some are effective at cleaning the air in ways that others aren’t. All plants rely on carbon dioxide and then convert that into oxygen which has a basic air-cleaning property. Beyond that, each plant has qualities that can be a little complex to understand, but mostly, toxins are absorbed by houseplants and then processed in a similar way to carbon dioxide.

Whichever houseplant you pick from our list, we are sure that the air in your home will be improved, giving your house a healthy and fresh transformation.

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