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16 Houseplants You Can Use as Air Purifiers

By
Updated on January 24, 2024
Written by
Danny Ashton
Danny is the founder of HouseFresh and has been writing about air purifiers and indoor air quality since 2010. He is our lead tester, conducting all the tests we use to evaluate air quality products. That is why you will always see his name attached to our reviews.

When I first wrote up this research paper, there was general agreement that it was correct that houseplants plants in the home can help to clean the air. But since that publication, several public responses from prominent scientists have rejected the idea, including on Atlantic.com. Therefore, we share this list of plants but recommend you not buy them if your only plan is to clean your air.

We think plants have many benefits, so don’t let this put you off owning and looking after plants.

A Note About Pets:

As noted by several readers, many of the plants on this list can also be poisonous to dogs and other pets. Be sure to check for any potential poison or allergies from the plants for your animal, and try to put plants in locations that pets can not reach.

If you do have pets, check out the recently updated list of our recommended air purifiers s for pets, as these, in combination with a combination of the 15 plants on this list, can allow pet owners to live without the fear of allergic reactions.

If you want to clean your home’s air, I suggest a cheap HEPA air purifier; we recently reviewed the Levoit 300 and Levoit PUR131.

1. NASA Research

A NASA research document concluded that “house plants can purify and rejuvenate air within our houses and workplaces, safeguarding us from any side effects connected with prevalent toxins such as formaldehyde, ammonia and benzene.”

Here are the results of the NASA research study:

  Common name Scientific name Score
1 Areca palm Chrysalidocarpus lutescens 8.5
2 Lady palm Rhapis excelsa 8.5
3 Bamboo palm Chamaedorea seifrizii 8.4
4 Rubber plant Ficus robusta 8.0
5 Dracaena “Janet Craig” Dracaena deremensis “Janet Craig” 7.8
6 English ivy Hedera helix 7.8
7 Dwarf date palm Phoenix roebelinii 7.8
8 Ficus Alii Ficus macleilandii “Alii” 7.7
9 Boston fern Nephrolepis exalta “Bostoniensis” 7.5
10 Peace lily Spathiphyllum sp. 7.5

2. Interior Plants: Their Influence on Airborne Microbes inside Energy-efficient Buildings

In another study made in 1996, a bedroom with no plants had 50% more colonies of airborne microbes than a room that contained houseplants.

microbe removal using plantsSource

3. Foliage Plants For Indoor Removal of The Primary Combustion Gases Carbon Monoxide and Nitrogen Dioxide

During a laboratory experiment in 1985, Dr. Wolverton, Ph.D., compared the removal of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide using a sealed chamber of spider plants.

nitrogen and co2 removal using plants Source

4. Dr. Wolverton – Formaldehyde removal experiment

In another laboratory study by Dr. Wolverton, Ph.D., he compared several house plants to removing formaldehyde from a sealed chamber. Formaldehyde is a common household toxin that is released from a variety of household items.

Removal of Formaldehyde from Sealed Chambers for Plants Grown in Potting Soil

CommonNameBotanical NameRemoval Rate*(Micrograms/Hour)
Boston fernNephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis”1863
Dwarf date palmPhoenix roebelenii1385
Bamboo palmChamaedorea seifrizii1350
Janet CraigDracaena deremensis “Janet Craig”1328
English ivyHedera helix1120
Weeping figFicus benjamina940
Peace lilySpathiphyllum “Clevelandii”939
Areca palmChrysalidocarpus lutescens938
Corn plantDracaena fragrans “Massangeana”938
Lady palmRhapis excelsa876

Source.5

16 Air Purifier Plants

Concerning Dr. Wolverton’s and NASA’s experiments, I have compiled a list of 16 house plants that provide the greatest level of air purification.

1. Areca Palm Tree

Areca Palm Tree
The ultimate “plant air purifier,” according to NASA

Costa Farms Areca Butterfly Palm Tree, Live Indoor Plant, 3 to 4-Feet Tall, Ships in Grow Pot, Fresh From Our Farm, Excellent Gift
  • Do not recommend shipping to states currently experiencing extreme cold weather/temperatures.
  • I can adapt to full sun or light shade, but bright indirect sunlight is the best!
  • Place me on your patio to create a topical paradise!
  • I love regular watering's, keep me damp, but not muddy
  • We're unable to ship this item to: AK,AZ,CA,GU,HI

According to the ratings from NASA’s research, the Areca palm tree is the best air-purifying plant. According to Dr Wolverton’s data, it has the 8th highest removal rate for Formaldehyde. This house plant was referred to as “the most effective air humidifier” by MetaEfficient.com. The Areca can maintain your office or home moist throughout dry periods and continually remove chemical toxins from your air. During the winter season, it’s so effective at putting moisture back in the air that you could switch off your electric humidifiers!

2. Lady Palm

Lady Palm

American Plant Exchange Lady Palm Rhapis Excelsa Indoor/Outdoor Air Purifier Live Plant, 6" Pot
  • A graceful palm for gardens or a beautiful addition to an indoor space.
  • Adds an elegant and graceful tropical effect to any home.
  • Slow growing, bamboo-like clustering trunk pattern.
  • Wonderful in large pots and containers.
  • Nasa clean air study discovered Rhapis Excelsa to be one of the Best houseplants at cleansing the air of formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene and toluene.

This house plant – Lady palm (or Rhapis excelsa) achieved the same rating as the Areca Palm tree in NASA’s research. This adaptable house plant can be stored in dry or moist parts of the world ( between 20-100° Fahrenheit) and is particularly resistant to most plant insects.

The Lady Palm is not the most effective at removing Formaldehyde, so if this is a concern, then I would suggest you look at another plant.

Read more…

3. Bamboo Palm

Bamboo Palm

Costa Farms Live House Plants (4 Pack), Easy Grow Houseplants, Potted in Indoor Garden Plant Pots, Grower's Choice Clean Air Purifier Planter Set, Potting Soil Mix, Gift for Home and Office Decor
  • CLEANER AIR: Our variety pack of live air purifying plants helps keep your indoor air fresh and clean by naturally filtering out pollutants and toxins. Many indoor plants also act as natural humidifiers, adding moisture in the air so you can breathe better
  • PERFECT FOR ANY SPACE: Whether you're looking to spruce up your home office or add a touch of greenery to your living room, clean air indoor plants are versatile enough to thrive in any space. Sits beautifully on any desk, windowsill, or tabletop
  • ELEVATE MOOD & WELLBEING: Plants make us happy. They give us life, fresh air and a sense of calm - all of which have the ability to lift your mood and improve your wellbeing. NASA studies show having plants improves mood, creativity and reduces stress
  • READY TO GROW: Your new live indoor plant arrives well-packed with care instructions. Keep it happy, healthy, and growing by placing it in medium, indirect sunlight and giving it 1/2 cup of water about once a week. Adjust as needed for your environment
  • PLANTS MAKE GREAT GIFTS: Plants can be delivered to your loved ones for any occasion, including birthdays, anniversary, and housewarming. Enjoy peace of mind that every plant is well packaged, farm fresh, and ready to impress with your gift message

The bamboo palm was the third most powerful plant at removing formaldehyde from the air. It ranked third in the NASA experiment, so it is a good all-rounder at keeping your room air clean. This house plant will grow best in moist but not wet soil and in direct sunlight. However, this palm will require much room to grow, so it might not be the best option if you want this plant to sit on your desk.

Read more…

4. Boston Fern

Boston Fern

Costa Farms Boston Fern, Indoor or Outdoor Premium Live Fern Plant, Potted in Hanging Basket Nursery Pot, Soil Potting Mix, Housewarming, Beautiful Home Patio, Porch, Room Décor, 2-Feet Tall and Wide
  • LIVE FERN PLANT: Bring home a beautiful Fern house plant that is easy to care for and thrives in any indoor or outdoor space. Ferns add instant curb appeal by placing them in hanging baskets on your patio or porch, on the edge of an bookcase or shelf
  • GORGEOUS HOME DECOR: Ferns are decorative houseplants that add instant flair to your indoor or outdoor home decor with their lush, green foliage. Ready to be enjoyed and admired after unboxing for placement in any living room, patio, porch, or office
  • UNIQUE GIFT IDEA: Surprise your loved ones with a live Boston Fern, ready to be gifted for any occasion, including birthday, anniversary, and housewarming. It's a refreshing alternative to flowers or typical gifts, creating a lasting memory that shows you care
  • ELEVATE MOOD & WELLBEING: Plants make us happy. They give us life, fresh air and a sense of calm - all of which have the ability to lift your mood and improve your wellbeing. NASA studies show having plants improves mood, creativity and reduces stress
  • READY TO GROW: Your new live indoor plant arrives well-packed with care instructions. Keep it happy, healthy, and growing by placing it in bright, indirect sunlight and giving it 2-3 cups of water about once a week. Adjust as needed for your environment

The Boston fern was the most effective plant at removing Formaldehyde and removed significantly more per hour than the other plants examined.

Studies have also shown that the Boston fern will eliminate heavy metals from the soil, such as mercury and arsenic.

5. Rubber Plant

Rubber Plant

No products found.

This rubber house plant (Ficus robusta) has been mentioned as one of the leading Twenty plants by doctors. B.C. “Bill” Wolverton’s “50 Houseplants That Purify Your Home Or Office.” This rubber house plant provides moisture, eliminates bio effluents, takes away volatile organic compounds as well as suppresses air-based microorganisms as soon as it’s put into a room

As time passes, this rubber plant will become much more skilled at eliminating toxic compounds in the air. Bacteria within the rubber plants leaves to break up the toxins and feast on them. The procedure subsequently emits clean air into the surrounding environment. Since the plant grows, these microorganisms increase.

This increased number of bacteria assists the rubber house plant in becoming progressively more effective at extracting further toxic compounds from the air.

6. Janet Craig – Dracaena

Janet Craig Dracaena

No products found.

The Dracaena (or Dracaena deremensis) places fifth on NASA’s ranking with a 7.8 score.  According to data, it can remove Formaldehyde at a rate of 1,328 micrograms per hour. It also removes Xylene at a rate of 154 micrograms per hour, according to http://www.earthwitchery.com/pollution.html

Recommended Placement in Home: These are especially effective in newly carpeted or newly furnished rooms where formaldehyde levels are at the highest.

Tips to keep this plant healthy:

  • Favors vibrant light, although not direct sunlight.
  • Water completely through early spring through the winter season and allow the plant’s soil to dry out in between watering

7. English Ivy

English Ivy

American Plant Exchange Easy Care English Ivy California Trailing Vine Live Plant, 6" Pot, Indoor/Outdoor Air Purifier
  • The English ivy plant is a classic, fan-shaped, Silver green ivy.
  • Makes a wonderful, bright light houseplant. It will grow long and lush, bringing a bit of the outdoors inside.
  • Easy to grow, self-clinging vine that is great for baskets, containers, climbing walls, as a ground-cover, enhancing container plantings and spilling over planter boxes.
  • English ivy helps in reducing indoor air pollution and certain allergens from the house like molds and other fungus growth. It also removes airborne fecal matter from pets and formaldehyde from household cleaning products.

If your airflow in your area has stagnated and dried out, English ivy (also known as Hedera helix) may be the solution! WebMD.com talks about this effervescent house plant as “a solution for allergic reactions,” observing that sixty percent of air-based mold within the space was removed after just six hrs right after introducing English ivy.

People with allergies, asthma, or even wanting to inhale cleaner, more fresh air might be wise to give this English ivy plant a shot!

8. Date Palm Tree

Date Palm Tree

Although it does not position at the top of the purifying scale when compared to its three palm relatives, make no mistake: this Date palm house plant (also known as Phoenix roebelinii) remains an extremely efficient and stylish-looking method to both cheer up the design of an area and reduce the content level of volatile organic compounds floating all over the air.

The Date house plant is very effective at getting rid of formaldehyde and thus works great in combination with other purifier plants (it has the second-highest removal rate after the fern plant.)

9. Ficus Alii

Ficus Alii

Brighter Blooms - Benjamina Ficus Tree, 2-3 Ft. - Unique Potted Tree, Perfect as a Patio Plant or Indoor Tree - No Shipping to AZ
  • NO SHIPPING TO ARIZONA - Benjamina Ficus Tree cannot be shipped to AZ due to federal restrictions. If you live in Arizona and order this tree, your order will be cancelled.
  • PERFECT SIZE FOR INSTANT BRIGHT FOLIAGE AND COLOR - Benjamina Ficus Tree will not be mature on arrival, but it will instantly adorn any landscape with a refreshing dash of bright foliage!
  • READY FOR GARDNERS OF ALL LEVELS - No matter where you're at in your planting journey, what your yard looks like or what you're dreaming it will look like, we've got you covered
  • DELIVERING NATURE'S JOY - From large, high-impact trees and reliable, versatile shrubs to tropical fruits, rare house and patio plants and much more, our varieties provide the garden solutions you need.
  • BRIGHTEN YOUR HOME - Bring the joy of gardening straight to your home, one bloom at a time. Whether you’re looking for the perfect finishing touch or designing a whole new garden space, we hope our plants will bring you happiness for seasons to come!

This ficus alii (also known as the Ficus macleilandii) isn’t as strong in its pollutant-removing effectiveness as a rubber plant. However, it remains an excellent addition to any office or home wherever clear air is missing. Although they aren’t terribly difficult to look after, PlantCareGuru.com alerts us that hand protection should be used for those who have latex allergic reactions while dealing with the house plant.

 

10. Peace Lilly

Peace Lilly

Peace Lily Plant-Friendship Foliage's Family Farm Grown Quality Live Indoor Spathiphyllum (6" Pot, 14-18in Tall from Bottom of The Pot)
  • 6" plants are shipped with blooms/lilies very low in foliage (spike form) at this time.
  • CANNOT SHIP TO CALIFORNIA or ARIZONA due to state policies*
  • Grown by small family owned and operated nursery
  • Cleans, purifies, and removes toxins from the air
  • Easy to care for

The Peace Lily (also known as Spathiphyllum sp.) is a perfect air purifier plant for those who don’t have green fingers. Peace Lilies are often found in malls because they are easy to grow.

If you are scared you might kill your new house plant, I recommend this one.

11. Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

Costa Farms Aloe Vera (2 Pack), Live Succulent Plant, Easy Care Indoor Houseplant in Grower Pot, Natural Room Air Purifier in Soil, Living Room or Office Décor, New House Warming Gift, 12-Inches Tall
  • LIVE INDOOR PLANT: Bring home beautiful Aloe Vera to add a relaxing, calm feel to any space. Aloe houseplants are natural air purifiers that help keep your indoor air fresh. Perfect size decor for tabletops, shelves, living rooms, offices, and bedrooms
  • GREAT DECOR FOR ANY SPACE: Whether you're looking to spruce up your home office or add a touch of greenery to your living room, indoor Aloe Vera plants have a timeless appeal. Unique statement piece that instantly infuses decor aesthetic with personality
  • ELEVATE MOOD & WELLBEING: Plants make us happy. They give us life, fresh air and a sense of calm - all of which have the ability to lift your mood and improve your wellbeing. NASA studies show having plants improves mood, creativity and reduces stress
  • FRESH FROM FARM: Every plant is packed with care and delivered direct from our farm to your home. Aloe height is approximately 12-inches tall, measured from the bottom of the pot to the top of the plant. Potted in a grower pot
  • PLANTS MAKE GREAT GIFTS: Plants can be delivered to your loved ones for any occasion, including birthdays, anniversary, and housewarming. Enjoy peace of mind that every plant is well packaged, farm fresh, and ready to impress with your gift message

Aloe vera was proven to be much more effective at eliminating formaldehyde at lesser concentrations when compared with Philodendrons. Aloe vera is likewise famous for being a healing plant acknowledged for its therapeutic qualities, giving it most of its nicknames.

Andrea-plant-air-purifier-aloe

The Aloe house plant was also used in the initial photography used for the Andrea plant air purifier – probably due to the plant’s purification properties.

12. Spider Plants

Spider Plants

The spider plant was used by Dr. Wolverton in his 1985 study that examined the plant’s removal of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. In a room with many spider plants, the amount of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide dropped to near zero after only 24 hours.

Source

13. Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum

This beautiful house plant effectively removed the VOC compound – benzene is known to cause cancer.

Many tobacco products contain high levels of benzene, so it would be helpful to have one of these plants in a smoking household. However, no house plant can ever negate the effects of tobacco smoke.

Remember to be careful with Chrysanthemum as it is poisonous when ingested or with prolonged skin exposure.

14. Heart leaf philodendron

Heart leaf philodendron

No products found.

The N.A.S.A. study showed that the Philodendron house plant was one of the best house plants for eliminating formaldehyde from the surrounding air, especially when working with higher concentrations.

15. Snake Plants or Mother of Law Tongue

snake-plant-purifier

Snake Plant, Mother-In-Law's Tongue - Sanseveria - 6" Pot/unique-from jmbamboo
  • 10-12'' inch live plant.Extremely hardy house plant, difficult to kill
  • Commonly called Snake Plants or Mother-in-law's Tongue
  • In China, it was kept as a treasured houseplant because the Eight Gods bestowed their eight virtues on those who grew them
  • Will grow in dime light, water when dry
  • The plant you will receive is growing in a 6" pot

Snake house plants — these types of plants tend to be incredible growers and extremely tough. They’re excellent at eliminating most toxins and are quite happy to grow in areas where other plants may decline and perish ( say, a hot window ledge). Also, they are great bathrooms and darker area plants.

16. Sago Palm Air Purifier

Snake Plant, Mother-In-Law's Tongue - Sanseveria - 6" Pot/unique-from jmbamboo
  • 10-12'' inch live plant.Extremely hardy house plant, difficult to kill
  • Commonly called Snake Plants or Mother-in-law's Tongue
  • In China, it was kept as a treasured houseplant because the Eight Gods bestowed their eight virtues on those who grew them
  • Will grow in dime light, water when dry
  • The plant you will receive is growing in a 6" pot

There are many air-purifying palms on this list for a good reason, and the sago palm is a great plant for cleaning the air.

One Final Point:

Make sure to Maintain your house plants in good condition and make sure you have enough of them. The NASA research advised that there should be a six-inch plant for every 100 sq feet of interior living space.

Update from author “It’s not true to say that house plants can clean the air”:

Last update on 2024-02-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About the author

Danny Ashton

Danny is the founder of HouseFresh and has been writing about air purifiers and indoor air quality since 2010. He is our lead tester, conducting all the tests we use to evaluate air quality products. That is why you will always see his name attached to our reviews.

55 thoughts on “16 Houseplants You Can Use as Air Purifiers”

  1. Germaphobe? Keep it properly watered and you will not have a fungal issue. Those bacterias will not harm you. They are necessary and beneficial.

  2. duh ok are you not getting that teh plants are purifying, you should not be getting mold in plants-unless overwatering. Also be aware that some level of exposure to bacteria is good for you!!!!!How did our ancestor survive.

  3. Yes some of these plants are poisonous to pets and children. But for those of you who are concerned about pets…they will not eat poisonous plants they have a natural instinct to eat only things that are good for them. Children on the other hand eat anything because that is part of their learing process…I would keep all plants out of their reach.

  4. I have raised 3 children and have had 8 grandchildren around my gazillion house plants and no one has ever eaten one. And true, animals are smart enough to know better.

  5. House plants can be great, better yet are bio-filters which use microbes tuned to eat just about any toxin.(very expensive). Okay plants for purifying you air… there are major issues here. 1) humidity , if the humidity in your house is over 50% you are in trouble and will grow mold. 2) because the plants need moisture and have a food source for molds, you will have molds at least growing in the soil. If you have asthma this NOT a good idea as mold is the number one trigger for asthma attacks (this is a medical fact).
    If you want good quality air.. keep the humidity in your house between 40 to 50% RH in the summer or 30 to 40% in the winter. The use standalone HEPA air cleaners, with 15Lbs or more of high-end blend activated carbon. That is all you need.. if you highly immune compromised, then you may consider germicidal UVc lamps.. But few need these and the must be used with a HEPA 99.97% at 0.3 microns) or ULPA filter (99.9995% at 0.3 microns).

    Then to do a good job you need to do 6 to 8 air exchanges per hour (this is environmentally dependent, for example a hospital OR room has 40 per hour), for home applications 6 to 8 is good especially if you have asthma, copd etc..

    Stay away from gimmick air cleaners. Ionizers typically produce ozone and that is NOT good. They are typically used with electronic air cleaners to improve their performance. Stay with HEPA as it will significantly our perform any electronic air cleaner. Stay anyway from any air cleaner that uses an oxidization process. The fact are the do incomplete oxidation and their produce more toxins than the remove. It is like a pill the doctors give you.. it made treat the symptoms but give you a heart attach in the process.

    I recently read so marketing on an air cleaner that uses a super HEPA (there is no such thing, after HEPA comes ULPA), The claim is that their HEPA captures a 100:1 more than most HEPA.
    They get a like creative here, their assumption is that other HEPA filters only capture partials down to 0.3 microns and nothing else and theirs capture down to .003 microns so therefore a 100 time better), that is false and deliberately misleading marketing. The 99.97% capture at 0.3 micron`s and industry standard test, it is the minimum standard which must be met to be called a HEPA filter and each filter must be individually tested to ensure it meets that standard. HEPA filter, filter out particles well below .3 microns.

    So stay with HEPA period! if you want a suggestion on a good one.. Well Austin Air is great.. it is easy for me to say that ans the USA department of defense test over 100 air cleaners. Only 4 of the 100 did the job and Austin Air was the most cost effective. So far in its price class and cost performance.. I have not yet seen a better one. However, Aller Air is also a very good one, A close copy of Austin Air, but here you can customize carbon blends which is important for those with MCS.

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