5 Houseplants that Improve Air Quality

Most people believe smog, or air pollution, is only outdoors, but it actually infiltrates homes and offices all the time. The best way to combat it? Get some air-purifying plants. According to a study done in 2009 by the American Society for Horticultural Science, certain houseplants can help cut indoor smog, which is important, considering 80 to 90 percent of people in industrialized countries spend their time indoors. Want to make sure you're not breathing in smog-filled air? Try growing these plants.


Aloe isn't only good for burns and cuts: This versatile succulent actually absorbs the air of chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene, which are present in some chemical-based cleaning products (yeah, yuck). While you should probably start using natural cleaning products, keeping aloe around the house isn't a bad idea, either (just in case). Easy to care for, they don't require much water. They do love sunlight though, so make sure you place them near a sunny windowsill! Keep them as warm as possible too, because these plants don't do well in the cold (most succulents don't).


Snake Plant

Serpents usually have a bad reputation, but this one doesn't. Snake plants are very low maintenance plants that are great for filtering out formaldehyde, a common ingredient found in cleaning products, tissues, toilet paper, and personal care products (disgusting right?). Perhaps the most unique thing about these plants is that they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen at night (most plants release oxygen during the day).  Since this plant can absorb both carbon dioxide and formaldehyde, the bedroom and the bathroom are great places for them. You can put a snake plant in your bathroom to filter the formaldehyde from the air created by all the paper products. After all, the snake plant thrives in low light conditions and will adore the humid conditions present in bathrooms (hot shower, anyone?). But placing these in the bedroom is another option because you'll get a boost of oxygen as you sleep, which will help you feel more rested when you wake up.

Source: Wikimedia


Golden Pothos

This beautiful, cascading green plant is great for absorbing formaldehyde, a chemical notoriously found in many items from paper products to car exhaust. This makes the garage a great place to put pothos, since it'll make the air more breathable (especially if you or someone in your home spends extended amounts of time in there). However, pothos will flourish anywhere with bright, but indirect, light. It doesn't like being placed on a windowsill, but it certainly makes a good desk plant. It's extremely low maintenance too, so if you have a habit of forgetting to water your plants, pothos won't mind. As soon as you see it starting to wilt (it can generally go a whole week or so without water before this happens), water it and it'll perk right back up. It also does well in average soil and doesn't require any fancy drainage. One important thing to note before buying golden pothos is that it is poisonous to animals and children, so if you're a parent, grandparent, or pet owner, you might be better off considering another plant on this list.



Ah, chrysanthemums - the iconic flower of fall. Planning on buying a few pots this season? Here's further motivation: It filters out icky benzene, which is typically found in paint, glue, detergent, and plastics. To care for your pretty detoxifying flowers, make sure they get plenty of bright light. They do best on windowsills with lots of sunlight, which encourages buds to open. Don't overwater them though, because they don't do well when exposed to too much moisture. Unlike pothos, this plant will not bounce back as gracefully if it starts to wilt between waterings. The best way to tell if a chrysanthemum needs more water is if the lower leaves start to wilt or turn brown. To avoid accidental overwatering, make sure to use soil with good drainage and pots with drainage holes.


Gerbera daisy

These lovely, colorful blooms aren't just for show: They clear the air of nasty impurities like trichloroethylene (usually related to dry cleaning) and benzene (which can be found in inks). Adding one to your bedroom or laundry room could help filter these toxins, but only if you have good lighting in those rooms. These pretty flowers need plenty of sunlight (at least 6 hours) and love well-drained soil (so definitely invest in a pot with drainage holes). Your gerbera daisy may wilt if it's kept too warm, so make sure the temperature of the room you place it in doesn't rise above 70. Along with watering, make sure to mist the leaves (not the blooms) once or twice a week to stimulate humidity.