Plants That are Good for Indoor Pollution

Houseplants do more than decorate our homes. Certain indoor plants are known for their ability to remove airborne toxins. As we build tight, energy-efficient homes, we trap in unwanted toxins. Most of these irritants come from paint, glues and adhesives used in construction. Try to place two or three of these valuable plants around your home.

Peace Lily

The peace lily (Spathiphyllum cochlearispathum) removes all three of the major airborne toxins. They are benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. This is also one of the few houseplants that flowers reliably. It will develop one or more spadex type flowers once or twice a year. Peace lily is a medium sized plant with wide linear leaves. It will grow in low light.

Snake Plant

The snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) filters benzene and formaldehyde from the air. This is a low water, low light plant. It will fit into tight spaces due to the tall narrow upright foliage. It is also called mother in law's tongue. These are succulents and have the ability to hold water. They will need far less water than most house plants.


English ivy (Hedera helix) is usually considered an outdoor landscape plant. It can be a very invasive plant in the garden, but easy to control indoors. It is very effective in removing benzene from the indoor air. There are a number of variegated and cut-leaf ivies to choose from.


The philodendrons are a group of vining houseplants. The majority are fast growing and have large leaves. Three are known for removing formaldehyde from indoor air. They are the "Heartleaf", "Splitleaf" and "Elephant Leaf" philodendrons. These plants need average water and grow well in most light situations.

Spider Plant

The spider plant (Chlorophylum comosum) is a popular hanging plant. It has white and green striped leaves and its offspring can be seen suspended from the mother plant. New plants can be generated from these little plant-lets. This one is useful in removing formaldehyde from the air.


The common corn plant (Dracaena fragans) is a good selection for air quality. Corn plant is known for removing formaldehyde. Two varieties of Dracaena deremensis will remove trichloroethylene from the air. They are "Janet Craig" and "Warneckii".


The rubber tree (Ficus elastica) is great for removing formaldehyde from the air. This plant handles low light and low water conditions well. The worst thing for this plant is too much water. There is the common green leaved variety and a bronze leaved variety.

Golden Pothos

Devil's ivy (Epipiremnum aureum) is a common hanging houseplant. It is also called golden pothos due to the yellow variegation in the leaves. This is a good plant for removing formaldehyde.

Chinese Evergreen

One of the best houseplants for very low light situations is the Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum). this one is known for its ability to remove benzene from indoor air. Chinese evergreens have interesting markings on their leaves and bamboo like stems. These are tidy, well-behaved plants.

Keywords: low light requirement, hanging houseplant, indoor air

About this Author

Marci Degman has been a Landscape Designer and Horticulture writer for since 1997. She has an Associate of Applied Science in landscape technology and landscape design from Portland Community College. She writes a newspaper column for the Hillsboro Argus and radio tips for KUIK. Her teaching experience for Portland Community College has set the pace for her to write for