Plants are not just used for decorating the home--they can clean the home's air of daily pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene, according to the NASA/ALCA study done in the late 1980s. Nineteen different plants can be kept in the house to clean the air of each of these pollutants. It takes one large plant to clean the air in a 100-square-foot room, so if your room is larger, you may need two or three plants.
The toxin formaldehyde can come from paper products, foam insulation, particleboard or plywood and carpet cleaning chemicals. Plants that can clean the air of formaldehyde are the spider plants, snake plant, philodendron, ficus trees, devil's ivy, corn stalk plant and a bamboo plant.
Houses with benzene in the air can benefit from plants such as the peace lily, English ivy, dragon tree, Chinese evergreen, chrysanthemum or the striped dracaena. Benzene is a toxin that can result from detergents, dyes, plastics, inks, rubber and tobacco smoke and synthetic fibers.
Trichloroethylene is a toxin in the air that comes from varnish, paint, lacquer, adhesive, dye and ink. Plants that can rid the air of this toxin include the ribbon plant, mum, peace lily and the dracaena marginata.
For a home with 2,000 square feet, NASA recommends using 15 different hearty plants (from the above lists) in 6-inch pots or larger, with a few plants from each group. It is also noted on the ASPCA website, that some of the plants that help clean the air in the home can be toxic to dogs and cats, so place them out of pets' reach.