How to Purify Indoor Air With Houseplants


During the long winter months, having indoor plants can certainly lift the spirits, but they can do so much more. In a 1989 landmark study, NASA and the Associate Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) found that certain house plants can reduce indoor pollution by as much as 50 percent. Common pollutants, such as benzene, trichloroethylene (TCE), and formaldehyde, are present in our homes through paints, gasoline, inks, plastics, natural gas, kerosene, adhesives, foam insulation, particle board, and household cleaning agents. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals can cause serious health issues, so buy some plants and purify the air while brightening your mood and your home environment. Read on to find some star performers.

Natural Air Purifiers

Step 1

For removal of benzene, select gerbera daisies or pot mums. Other good performers are peace lily, English ivy, and mother-in-law's tongue.

Step 2

Purify your living space of formaldehyde with bamboo palm, dracaena Janet Craig, mother-in-law's tongue, or dracaena marginata.

Step 3

Dangerous TCE can be removed from the air you breathe with gerbera daisy plants, bamboo palm, peace lily, and dracaena marginata.

Step 4

Keep your plants healthy and they'll keep you healthy. Make sure the soil is moist enough. Check to see how much light your house plants require, and keep them out of cold winter drafts whenever possible. Invest in a plant mister to keep the leaves hydrated, and trim away yellowing or dead leaves.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you have pets or small children in your home, be sure to check for toxicity first before purchasing plants. If you suspect your pet has ingested any part of an indoor plant, contact your veterinarian. In the event your child chews or swallows any part of a house plant, seek medical help.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 6" plant for every 100 sq. ft. of living space:
  • 1 Gerbera Daisy
  • 1 mother-in-law's tongue
  • 1 Peace Lily
  • 1 Bamboo Palm
  • 1 English Ivy
  • 1 Dracaena Marginata
  • 1 Dracaena Janet Craig


  • Click here to read the NASA/ALCA study results.
  • University of Nebraska Co-Op lists toxic house plants.
  • EPA lists common sources of formaldehyde.

Who Can Help

  • Colorado State Extension Offers Tips for Watering Indoor Plants.
Keywords: Houseplants, Air Purifiers, Indoor Gardens

About this Author

Rebecca Gummere lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and writes about social issues, relationships, science, and travel. Gummere holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wittenberg University, an M.Div. from Trinity Lutheran Seminary, and an Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Queens University. Her writing has appeared in Living Single and All About Women.