Using indoor plants to clean the air in your home

Indoor plants are not just for the 1970s home, there is real science to back up the beneficial properties that they afford your home, and they can really help to keep the air in your home clean. There are also some lovely culinary advantages to growing your own herbs in the kitchen. 

Firstly, back to the science of #cleanwithplants. NASA has conducted extensive research to find the best plants to help keep air clean inside the space station, and there is no reason we cannot take advantage of this information to make our homes nicer place to live. 

Here is a short list of plants that are fantastic to help cleaning the air in your home:

  • Snake plant (Sansevieria) - Produces oxygen at night and also helps remove xylene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, toluene, and benzene from the air.
  • Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata) - Effective at removing pollutants, including formaldehyde and benzene. This is a slow growing plant but it will get quite tall so a room with a high ceiling will be great. 
  • Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) - This flowering plant helps remove trichloroethylene so put one in the laundry or in the bedroom. It will like sunlight so next to a window with a lot of sun will be great. 
  • Broadleaf Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) - This plant filters ammonia. They grow will in humidity and are happy in low light, so try one in the bathroom.
  • Aloe vera - This succulent fights benzene and formaldehyde and it loves the sun so again a great one for a sunny windowsill. 
  • Chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium) - This is a flowering plant and it can help with a  number of nasty chemicals, including xylene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, toluene, and benzene. They like the sunshine too so by a window will be best. 
  • Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) - This helps reduce carbon monoxide, xylene, and formaldehyde so try growing the in the garage or shed but forget about them. 
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix) - This hardy plant reduces formaldehyde, and reduces airborne fecal-matter so hello bathroom for this plant.
  • Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis) - This stunning plant produces oxygen at night. The moth orchid also reduces toluene.
  • Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum) - This  plant loves low light and humidity; it also fights benzene and the formaldehyde so is another choice for the bathroom. 
  • Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) - Helps reduce formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.  This plant will be quite happy tucked in a corner of a reception room. 

To find these plants try your local nursery. 

Here are some of the chemicals that these plants help remove:

  • Formaldehyde - found in paints, wallpaper, and smoke from fireplaces, emitted with vehicle exhausts, also found in some cosmetics
  • Benzene - found in dyes and synthetic fibres, detergents and plastics, and found in varnishes and floor finishes 
  • Trichloroethylene - a chemical used in dry cleaning
  • Ammonia – found in many cleaning products (unless you are using Gyre and Gymble!) 
  • Xylene - found in petrol and rust preventers
  • Toluene - found is shoe polish

References:

  • "How to grow your own fresh air" TED 2009
  • "Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution AbatementNASA
  • "NASA Clean Air StudyWikipedia
  • "Potted Plants Could Purify Poisonous AirScience Magazine
  • "How Aloe vera became a cure-all and cosmetic superstar" New Scientist