Plants have been shown to effectively help clean surrounding air. A plant feeds itself using a process known as photosynthesis. The plant absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen back into the environment. During this process, the plant absorbs pollutants but releases only clean oxygen back. Benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde exist within most households. When a houseplant is placed within an environment contaminated with such chemicals, the plant removes 87 percent of the toxins, according to the Colorado State University.
The Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) successfully removes formaldehyde from the surrounding air, according to AvianWeb. The plant also adds humidity to the air. A popular plant for a hanging basket, the plant produces lush green fronds.
Despite having the ability to return humidity to the environment, the Boston fern does require humid conditions to thrive. It prefers a humidity level over 80 percent. The plant enjoys moist soil and a location that offers bright, filtered sunlight.
The reed palm (Chamaedorea Seifrizii) is known for removing formaldehyde, toluene, benzene and trichloroethylene from the air. The small palm grows up to 8 feet tall and offers ease of care. Although a tropical-looking palm, it requires only moderate humidity to thrive.
Place the reed palm in a filtered sunlight location. Maintain moist soil. The plant benefits from monthly fertilizing. During the summertime the plant enjoys being placed outside in a sunny location.
The weeping fig (Ficus), known to successfully remove formaldehyde, ammonia and xylene from the air, grows well indoors with care. The plant is available in both green leaf and variegated leaf varieties. It requires regular watering and constant light to prevent leaf drop. The plant does not tolerate drafty locations well.
The plant grows quite tall indoors and a 6 or 7 foot height is not unusual. It can be pruned to maintain size and shape indoors.
Australian Sword Fern
The Australian sword fern (Nephrolepis obliterata) grows well in hanging baskets. The plant grows in a mounding shape of between 24 to 36 inches. It grows best in full shade or partial shade. Water the fern thoroughly but then allow it to dry out for a day before watering again. The plant is unable to withstand temperatures that dip below 20 degrees Fahrenheit and is commonly grown only as a houseplant except in tropical locations where it thrives outside on a patio or beside trees. The fern has a reputation for detoxifying the air, according to AvianWeb.