Five of the best plants to purify the air in your home

green potted plant next to an artwork and a white wall

Megan Whitfield

Posted July 07, 2019

Forget fancy air purifiers, indoor plants are nature's original house cleaner. 

You may have noticed that houseplants are having a moment. From large look-at-me monsteras to tiny cacti sitting on a windowsill, there’s something to fit every home and lifestyle. 

But decoration aside, plants have a whole range of other benefits. Studies have shown having plants around can help reduce stress and anxiety, increase productivity and improve sleep quality

There was even a NASA study that found houseplants can help purify air, removing toxins like benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and other chemicals commonly found in building materials and paint that have been linked to adverse health effects.

With all that in mind, it’s time to discover your green thumb. Here are five of the best plants to purify the air in your home.

Five of the best plants to purify the air in your home

Peace lily

Anyone who has delved into the world of houseplants will recognise this one. With its lush dark-green leaves and bright white flowers, the peace lily is an indoor plant staple. 

When it comes to cleaning the air, this plant is a multi-tasker. According to the NASA study, peace lilies work to remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and ammonia from the environment. Even better – they’re pretty hard to kill, their distinct wilting a not-so-subtle hint when they need water. 

Note: Peace lilies are toxic to pets and children, so keep them out of reach.

Snake plant

Another popular houseplant, the snake plant (also known as mother-in-law’s tongue) has a multitude of air-cleaning tricks up its sleeve. It removes formaldehyde, xylene and nitrogen oxides from the air, and at night continues its hard work. When the sun goes down, many plants release C02 into the air, but snake plants continue converting carbon dioxide into oxygen instead, so you might want to keep this one in your bedroom.

Again, they’re very hard to kill. Little watering is required, and they tolerate lower light levels. The dream for your bedroom. 

close up of fiddle leaf fig branch and leaves

Plants that are sturdy and don't require much upkeep are perfect for those who have a busy lifestyle but enjoy a fresh home.


Devil's ivy

If nothing else, devil’s ivy (also known as golden pothos) is just a very pretty addition to any room, with its variegated leaves perfect for draping gracefully from hanging baskets. However, these plants also filter formaldehyde, xylene and benzene from the air. 

Note: Like the lilies, this plant can be toxic for pets. Stock up on baskets to keep them out of reach.

Spider plant

Spider plants are super easy to grow and they multiply rapidly, making them a great choice for someone just getting started with keeping houseplants. Even better, the NASA study found them to be one of the most effective plants at removing formaldehyde from the air. They also remove xylene. 

Put these plants somewhere they can get plenty of bright, indirect light and water them occasionally.  

Rubber plant 

These plants may not actually be made from rubber, but they may as well be considering how hard they are to kill. These gems thrive in dim light and prefer underwatering to overwatering. If you forget, well, just do it next time... 

And of course, they offer plenty when it comes to cleaning the air. Contaminants such as xylene, benzene and trichloroethylene are absorbed through the leaves, work their way through the plant, and are deposited back into the soil where they can be converted into oxygen.  

They look pretty as a picture, too.  

Ready to convert your home into a DIY jungle?
Here are some of the toughest indoor plants to kill (we all love a challenge).