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.
If you are serious about cleaning the air in your home, then be sure to check out the specific guides we have written with our recommended units based on our in-house testing and analysis:
The Best Air Purifiers in 2023
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.
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.
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
|CommonName||Botanical Name||Removal Rate*(Micrograms/Hour)|
|Boston fern||Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis”||1863|
|Dwarf date palm||Phoenix roebelenii||1385|
|Bamboo palm||Chamaedorea seifrizii||1350|
|Janet Craig||Dracaena deremensis “Janet Craig”||1328|
|English ivy||Hedera helix||1120|
|Weeping fig||Ficus benjamina||940|
|Peace lily||Spathiphyllum “Clevelandii”||939|
|Areca palm||Chrysalidocarpus lutescens||938|
|Corn plant||Dracaena fragrans “Massangeana”||938|
|Lady palm||Rhapis excelsa||876|
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
- 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
- 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.
3. Bamboo Palm
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.
4. Boston Fern
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
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
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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
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
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
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
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 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.
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
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.
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
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 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
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.
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Update from author “It’s not true to say that house plants can clean the air”:
Last update on 2023-06-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
67 thoughts on “16 Houseplants You Can Use as Air Purifiers”
Here one http://whatscookingamerica.net/EdibleFlowers/EdibleFlowersMain.htm
Thanks for the links James.. i will work on getting a set of plants you can eat and also use a purifiers.
Nice job, too bad all the commenters are too lazy to do any additional research regarding pets, etc.. You can’t put everything in one article, but this is a good start.
wow.. guess besides bamboo charcoal, there are many other plants can be used as home air purifiers too
Is it healthy to have plant in your room where you sleep. I have plants in my room where i spend night to sleep, three big palm, and a date palm, a Tamarind, and Royal Poincian *flamboyant tree*. sometimes i have problem to breath, or bad breath , i put door open of my room for more fresh air!
I sleep with 7 plants in my bedroom! I see no problem if the plants are health. It would also depend on what plants you have chosen.
A word of caution about the ‘spider plant’ They are not necessarily pet friendly. There are a few types out there that people refer to as “Spider Plant”. The spider plant actually produces a chemical that works similar to an opiate to a pet. In low doses this may not be a problem, but large doses or extended munching can cause problems.
With any plant accessible to your pets, check the SPCA website and/or consult a vet. Then, watch your pet to see if they leave it alone. I manage to keep some of these plants away from my pets through the use of red pepper sprinkled around the containers.
Great info for indoor air health. These natural air purifiers are beautiful too.
I have some kind of plants in my bedroom. i have 3 big palm’s in pot, but i dont know name, the seed come for spain. I don’t know if its wrong to have many plant in my bedroom! In lifingroom we have a Cycas revoluta and banana tree, i sleep in my room under 3 big palms, have in same pot a Tamarind tree. Have a Royal poinciana, and a canary date palm, and now i have coconut palm.
how more plants you have in a room, the higher the humidity will be on Rainy Day during the evening! Relative hihg humidity of 70% a 80% is bad for my health durning the night when i sleep in my room.
This is a wonderful article. I’m going to go out in the garden and see which of these plants can come inside.
Germaphobe? Keep it properly watered and you will not have a fungal issue. Those bacterias will not harm you. They are necessary and beneficial.
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.
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.
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.
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.