Air Filtering Plants

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The Benefits Of Air Cleaning House Plants

Every day materials such as particle board can cause indoor air pollution.

Some indoor plants are more than just a decoration for your home, store or office. Many of them, especially tropical or desert plants, are very efficient air cleaners that can help fight such indoors air pollutants as:

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  • Acetone, which is often emitted from printer ink, printed newspapers, office correction fluid, cosmetics, hair products, nail polish remover, cleaning fluids and car exhaust
  • Alcohols, which are found in adhesives, caulking, carpeting, ceiling tiles, duplicating machines, printers. floor and wood floor plastic mat coverings, particle boards, varnishes and plastic blinds
  • Ammonia, which is found in cleaning products, printers, photocopiers, bio-effluents and kitty litter
  • Benzene, which is found in adhesives, caulking, ceiling tile, paint, particle board, plastic mats, mattresses, photocopiers, stains, tobacco smoke and wall coverings
  • Chloroform, which is found in some tap water
  • Formaldehyde which is found in adhesives, caulking, ceiling tiles, printers, floor coverings, drapes, upholstery, mattresses, grocery bags, gas stoves, particle board, plywood, stains, varnish and clothing, bedding and furnishings made from permanent press fabric
  • Trichloroethylene, which is duplicating machines, printers, and photocopiers
  • Xylene, which is found in adhesives, caulking, computer screens, printers, floor covering, particle boards, photocopiers, stains, varnishings, blinds, and wallpaper

Aside from chemicals, indoor air pollution is also caused by:

  • Toxic fibrous insulation materials that shed airborne particulates
  • Dirty air conditioner systems that shoot particulates, mold, and bacteria into the air
  • Very high humidity, which can cause the growth of mold and bacteria
  • Very low humidity, which can promote the creation of dirt particulates in the air, known as dust

Having these chemicals and irritants in the air in your home over the long term can lead to allergies, environmental sensitivities and long-term and chronic illnesses such as cancer, COPD, and autoimmune problems. Certain houseplants can actually help eliminate these pollutants from your indoor environment so that you do not have long-term consequences from inhaling them.

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Conditions Caused By Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor air pollution can cause a chronic cough

The chemical fumes that can be emitted from the objects and substances that you use every day can cause a significant amount of air pollution. You may be in need of filtering houseplants to help you clean your air if you are suffering from any of the following symptoms:

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  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Edema
  • Eye problems
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Hives
  • Irritability
  • Lowered immunity
  • Joint pain
  • Throat irritations
  • Memory Loss
  • Irritability
  • Lowered immunity

Having air-filtering plants in your home or office can help allay these uncomfortable and annoying symptoms that are associated with indoor air pollution

The Best Common House Plants For Cleaning the Air

Tropical house plants can help clear the air.

Studies conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi have shown that certain house plants act like very efficient natural filters that purify and revitalize the air.

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Here is a list of 40 of the most effective air filtering plants that also humidify the air and produce oxygen.

  1. 1
    Anthurium
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    This tall spiky plant has a heart shaped leaf that looks like a red plastic heart with a bright yellow proboscis sticking up from its center. This unique houseplant is a great humidifier and is also effective at removing indoor air pollution. However, they are very high maintenance and may not thrive in a place that has a dry climate due to central heating. It is also very vulnerable to developing fungus if the environment is too cold or damp.
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  2. 2
    Areca Palm
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    Also known as the Yellow or Butterfly palm, this big cane plant with shooting leaves not only removes chemicals from the air, it also humidifies the atmosphere. The plant will release a liter of water every 24 hours. NASA rated the Areca palm as being the very best air-filtering plant to own because it removes all of the toxins tested at the Stennis Space Center including benzene, acetone, ammonia, chloroform, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and Xylene.
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  3. 3
    Bamboo Palm
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    This plant boasts cluster slim canes with very lacey leaf shoots promotes a very rapid exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the air. It is a natural humidifier and good for places that are too dry because of indoor heating systems. It removes all toxins but excels in particular at removing benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air. It can grow as high as six feet tall.
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  4. 4
    Boston Fern
    .
    The Boston fern is an ancient plant in terms of evolution, boasts spiny, stiff branches with many leaves, and can be planted in baskets, in a tall pot, or on a pedestal. They remove all of the toxins from the air but are especially known for removing formaldehyde from the air. They are also efficient humidifiers of the air and are a bit high maintenance, as the soil needs to be moist all of the time for the plant to thrive.
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  5. 5
    Chinese Evergreen
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    The Chinese evergreen is an effective air cleaner that grows will in dim light, however it must be kept in a warmer environment or it will lose its leaves. The six to twelve inch leaves are broad, green, and striped with silver. Note that this Asian evergreen produces small red berries that are poisonous to pets and people.
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  6. 6
    Christmas and Easter cactus
    .
    These two varieties of Brazilian Cacti (one cactus blooms at Christmas and the other blooms at Easter) remove carbon dioxide from the air adoring the day and release oxygen at night. They are air cleaners. They also efficient oak like cactus and have bright green arched branches with flattened points and they bloom in many different colors. It is important to mist the leaves. Well-cared for cacti can grow very large.
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  7. 7
    Corn Plant
    .
    This efficient air cleaner has shiny leaves that look like the leaves of the domestic corn plant. It can survive in lower temperatures and dim light. It can reach ten feet tall and grows best in a standard commercial soil. It removes all toxins from the air, but it is especially efficient at removing formaldehyde from the air.
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  8. 8
    Croton
    .
    This plant, also known as Joseph's Coats, has long slender green, red or purple blades that have green or yellow spots. This plant has a very rapid transpiration rate, which helps it add a great deal of oxygen to the air. The leaves are very thick and leathery to the touch and it will thrive as long as its leaves are wiped with a cloth often and as long as it has full exposure to the sun.
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  9. 9
    Denrobium Orchid
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    This desert blossom is effective at removing alcohols, acetone, formaldehyde, and chloroform from the atmosphere. The fragrant white blossoms come forth in clusters and do best in a drier atmosphere. Overwatering the plant can cause a fungal infection.
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  10. 10
    Dracaena Janet Craig
    .
    This tropical palm can grow to be ten feet high and has huge leaves that shoot up from a central palm stalk. This particular plant tolerates a lack of water and less light and can survive in lower temperatures. It is efficient at removing all toxins including benzene, chloroform, acetone, ammonia, and trichloroethylene.
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  11. 11
    Dracaena Warneckei
    .
    This is tropical palm can tolerate low light and very dry air. It is very effective at removing the chemical benzene from the air and it has a high transpiration rate. It must not be over watered but it likes to have its leaves wiped.
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  12. 12
    Dragon Tree
    .
    This broom like palm has tube-like leaves that unravel around canes. The leaves can be two feet across and are green with red edges. This is a very hardy plant that tolerates low light and dry air that excels at removing xylene and trichloroethylene from the air.
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  13. 13
    Dumb Cane
    .
    Also known as Dieffenbachia, this shade-loving tropical plant with huge white leaves rimmed with green can grow to six feet tall. It is effective at removing indoor air contaminants and is easy to maintain, as you only need to water it when the soil is dry.
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  14. 14
    Dwarf Banana
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    Reaching a height of only two to five feet tall, this short tropical plant has broad shiny leaves that excel at moisturizing and purifying the air. It needs frequent misting but you must be careful not to overwater it, or it could develop root rot.
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  15. 15
    Dwarf Date Palm
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    Despite its name, this plant grows to be over six feet tall and has a burly main trunk that sprouts green leaves that can be three feet across. It tolerates lower light and removes all indoor pollutants, but it is especially efficient and removing xylene.
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  16. 16
    Elephant Ear Philodendron
    .
    Also known as the spade-leaf philodendron, it has large leaves that look like elephant ears. It is an effective dehumidifier and remover of toxic vapors. It is easy to grow as long as you keep it in indirect light. It is easily maintained and does well in fluorescent lighting.
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  17. 17
    English Ivy
    .
    This common hardy climbing plant, that can be hung from planters or grown in pots rapidly exchanges carbon dioxide for oxygen. It also very effective at removing all toxins from the air, especially acetone, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
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  18. 18
    Ficus Alii
    .
    This affordable type of ficus from Thailand is available as a braided tree, tree or bush and is efficient and removing all toxins from the air, including ammonia, acetone, formaldehyde, and benzene. It is known for being very easy to care for, requiring little water and tolerating different types of soil mediums.
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  19. 19
    Florist's Mum
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    This is a type of fragrant chrysanthemum that boasts beautiful blossoms all year round. It needs weekly fertilization with liquid nitrogen and full sunlight in order to thrive. It has a high transpiration rate and excels at removing chemicals from the air.
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  20. 20
    Gerbera Daisy
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    This huge daisy comes in many different colors and is incredibly effective when it comes to removing chemical vapors and toxic gasses from the air. It also has a high transpiration rate. It is a bit high maintenance as it needs midday sun to keep blooming and it cannot be overwatered.
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  21. 21
    Golden Pothos
    .
    This is a hardy vine that does well in shade. It can be grown in baskets or trained to climb. It is efficient at removing chemical vapors from the air and is an excellent natural humidifier of spaces that have very dry air.
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  22. 22
    Heart Leaf Philodendron
    .
    This fantastic humidifier has large heart shaped leaves and it can climb to a height of six feet. It can be grown in a planter or trained around a pole like a vine. It is tolerant of low light conditions and is an excellent humidifier. It is also an efficient cleaner of chemical vapors of all kinds from the air. Polishing its leaves with a damp sponge helps it clean the air more efficiently.
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  23. 23
    Kimberly Queen
    .
    This bushy green fern resembles a Boston fern with thinner fronds. It has a high transpiration rate and it is also an excellent humidifier. A drawback of growing this plant is that it can be quite high maintenance because it requires a lot of misting. Discolored yellow leaves must be removed immediately or the plant could die.
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  24. 24
    King of Hearts
    .
    This large plant has dark green leaves with areas of cream and silver. It is one of the most effective removers of chemical vapors from the air but it has a lower transpiration rate. One of the issues with the King of Hearts is that it grows slowly and wilts easily if it is exposed to cold or drafts.
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  25. 25
    Lacy Tree Philodendron
    .
    This type of is an amazing humidifier that tolerates a drier environment and lower lighting levels. However, the fact that has smaller leaves than other types of philodendrons make it a bit less efficient at cleaning the air. It's smaller leaves need to wiped frequently to keep it efficiently exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen.
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  26. 26
    Lady Palm
    .
    This large tropical plant with foot-wide fanning leaves and the hairy trunk was found to be the second most efficient plant for removing vapors in the NASA experiments. It is also very hardy and easy to grow. It efficiently removes all toxins and most notably xylene, benzene, acetone, ammonia, trichloroethylene, and xylene.
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  27. 27
    Lily Turf
    .
    This is an ornamental grass that reaches 18 inches high and is excellent at removing all chemical vapors, but especially ammonia. It produces both dark green or variegated leaves and small lavender or white flowers. This is a semi-aquatic plant that needs soil that is constantly soaked with water. It also prefers a humid, rather than a dry room.
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  28. 28
    Oak Leaf Ivy
    .
    This is an attractive vine with reddish green leaves that is also known as Ellen Danika. It grows well attaché to a stake and makes a good office plant because it can withstand fluorescent lighting and less sun. However, it can be vulnerable to fungal infections or spider mites if it is placed in direct sun.
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  29. 29
    Parlor Palm
    .
    This shade-loving palm has a small stiff trunk that produces smaller eight in long leaves. It can grow six feet high and is easy to maintain because it can go without water and withstand cooler temperatures. It should be misted often and never be pruned. It is a powerful humidifier and a remover of indoor chemical pollutants.
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  30. 30
    Peace Lily
    .
    This spiky plant has broadly ridged leaves and produces white flowers called spathes. They have a high transpiration rate and are especially efficient at removing acetone, alcohols trichloroethylene, benzene and formaldehyde from the air. It is easy to grow in any medium.
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  31. 31
    Prayer Plant
    .
    This tropical plant has beautiful striped leaves that turn upwards like praying hands at dusk. It is a small buy plant with broad leaves that has a very high transpiration rate, providing lots of oxygen to the air. It also removes some chemical pollutants from the air. It is a bit high maintenance and thrives mostly in environments over eighty degrees Fahrenheit and in drier climates.
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  32. 32
    Norfolk Island pine
    .
    This attractive tropical conifer has a high transpiration rate and can remove most chemicals ROM the air. It looks like a pine tree, with soft needles and it is very easy to care for, tolerating both shady and sunny areas of your home.
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  33. 33
    Red Emerald Philodendron
    .
    This vine has narrow heart-shaped leaves that start off being the color green and then turn burgundy. It grows best when twined around a water absorbent pole. It is a great natural humidifier and remover of chemical vapors from the air.
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  34. 34
    Rubber Plant
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    This shiny, tough plant has broad shiny leaves and can survive in less light and at a lower temperature than most tropical plants. It can also go without water longer than most effectively.
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  35. 35
    Snake Plant
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    Also known as the Mother In Law's Tongue, this remarkable air cleaner has long spear-like leaves that extend to four feet in height. It produces oxygen during the ay and removes carbon dioxide, toxins, and chemicals. It grows well in shade, needs little water and is very easy to maintain.
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  36. 36
    Spider Plant
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    Also known as the airplane plant, this commonly found houseplant is one of NASA's favorite natural air filters and effective at removing indoor airborne pollutants. It produces long thin green leaves with a broad center stripe that also sprouts plantlets. It is easy to maintain, loves both part shade and part sun and grows well in many different types of potting soils.
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  37. 37
    Syngonium
    .
    There are thirty different varieties of this vine, which looks like a philodendron but has green and silver arrow-shaped notched leaves. This plant prefers semi-sun and needs frequent misting but you don't have to water the soil unless it feels dry. All of the different varieties of Synonym are exceptional humidifiers that remove all toxins from the air.
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  38. 38
    Umbrella Tree
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    This tropical plant has long stems with shiny leaves that are sixteen to seventeen feet across and that drape down. It can grow to be ten feet tall. It is an excellent remover of all chemical pollutants and is an excellent room humidifier. However, it's very vulnerable to pests, including aphids, spider mites, and mealy bugs. The leaves also need frequent misting or they turn yellow and tear at the edges.
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  39. 39
    Wax Begonia
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    The ever-blooming plant boasts may different types of blooms. This is a succulent plant, which means it does not need much water, but they also need full sun to do well. The plants are exceptional air cleaners but they are very high maintenance. In humid climates, they can develop mildew and the leaves easily turn brown if the air is too dry.
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  40. 40
    Weeping Fig
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    This tree, which comes in three styles, including a bush, braid and the standard needs frequent watering, fertilizing and repotting, which makes it a high maintenance natural air cleaner. It is particularly good at removing chemical vapors, but especially formaldehyde from the air.
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Tips and Tricks

Avoid buying plastic items that emit toxic vapors such as plastic mats.

  • You can also help combat the problem of indoor air pollution by choosing furnishings and mattresses made of natural materials that do not off-gas or that are not made with glue
  • Avoid buying anything plastic, whenever possible, as all plastics emit small amounts of toxic fumes
  • Keep in mind that many of the most effective air cleaners are the largest tropical palm plants that grow from between three to ten feet wall, which requires making space for them in your office or living space
  • Buildings that were constructed past 1973 have the worst indoor pollution because they have the most insulation.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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Categories : Green Living | Health & Wellness

Recent edits by: Alma, Maria, Eng

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