House Plants That Clean Air With Little Sunshine

Plant lovers have grown houseplants for generations as a way to bring the outdoors in. However, houseplants are also beneficial as air purifiers. Benezene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene are the three most prevalent indoor pollutants. However, houseplants can be used to eliminate these toxic fumes as well as add visual interest to your home.

English Ivy

English ivy (Hedera helix), is a common ground cover also used for topiaries and indoor plants. However, English ivy is an air-purifying plant as well. This plant treats the air against benezene, a pollutant found in ink, paint, oil, plastic, rubber, dyes, detergents, pharmaceuticals, tobacco smoke and synthetic fibers. English ivy prefers indirect sunlight or low artificial lighting and damp soil conditions. This household favorite grows in a vine pattern and, therefore, can be used in hanging baskets and as a trailing plant. The plant has dark green heart-shaped foliage with variegated varieties available.

Spider Plant

The spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is a common houseplant popular for its easy maintenance and speedy propagation. However, spider plants are also known for their ability to improve air quality. Specifically, this plant removes formaldehyde from the air. Formaldehyde is present in foam insulation, plywood, grocery bags, waxed paper, flame retardants, adhesive binders in floor coverings, cigarette smoke and natural gas. The spider plant grows best under bright but indirect sunlight. Midday sunlight will scorch the plant's leaves. This plant features long, grassy leaves and occasional small white flowers. New plants can be generated from the profusion of plantlets which can be detached and repotted or allowed to root alongside the parent plant.

Bamboo Palm

Bamboo (Chamaedorea sefritzii), also known as reed plant, is a low-light-loving houseplant known for its air-cleaning abilities. This plant is often sold in clusters and will grow as tall as 7 feet at maturity. It features woody reed-like stalks with tender foliage. They prefer indirect sunlight, moist soil and can be grown in water. According to Clean Air Gardening, an air-quality garden resource, bamboo palm is best for treating air contaminated with benzene and trichloroethylene. Trichloroethylene is found in metal degreasing and dry-cleaning products as well as printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes and adhesives.

Keywords: indoor air quality, improving air quality, houseplant benefits, clean air plants

About this Author

Leah Deitz has been writing alternative health and environmental-related articles for five years. She began her writing career at a small newspaper covering city politics but turned to environmental concerns after beginning her freelance career. When she is not exploring the trails and outdoors of the East Coast, Deitz writes for a number of websites including, and Associated Content.