Cleaning Tips

Spring Cleaning: Air-Filtering Houseplants


What is one of the first things you do in your house in the spring when the weather starts to warm up? If you didn't say open your windows, you may be breathing indoor air pollutants. After being cooped up and shut in through what are typically the cold months of winter, pollutants build up and float around in greater amounts than we should be breathing in. Office machines, paint, formaldehyde used in preserving wood, plastics and more release chemicals into the air. The same thing happens on space shuttles and space stations, which is why NASA led a study with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America in the late 1980's in an effort to find houseplants that would clean the air in these small spaces. Several houseplants were identified to filter out impurities and toxins in the air.

Since then, several studies have supported the science as well as showing that houseplants reduce indoor ozone. So, while spring cleaning this season, why not spring clean the air in your home by adding some greenery. There will be plenty of room since you have put all your winter gear into storage.

Here are our recommendations from NASA's approved list of air-filtering houseplants that won't take up too much space. The more you can make room for the better, but every plant helps!


1. Snake Plant
The snake plant is a succulent that helps to remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene. xylene and toluene from the air. It will thrive in a sunny window facing east, west or south, but also handles a variety of light levels very well. Just be sure to put it in direct sunlight for a few hours when the chance presents itself. The more sun it gets the faster it will grow. Cat and dog owners should steer clear of this plant because it is toxic to your pet.

2. Rubber Plant
The Rubber Plant sucks up formaldehyde and would be perfect for a room that does not get direct sunlight all day. Pick a room that you can see a shadow on the wall behind the plant. Once you have picked a spot for this plant, don’t move it often. Sudden changes in temperature and light may cause it to drop its leaves. Keep it out of drafty rooms as that can cause temperature swings. The Ficus elasctica can cause some illness in pets if ingested.

3. Peace Lily
The Peace Lily takes in benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene. xylene, toluene, and ammonia. One of the few flowering clean-air plants, it blooms year-round. They can thrive inside, where it is usually relatively warm and humid compared to the outside environment. Place your peace lily near to a window in a warm room in your apartment where it will benefit from indirect sunlight. They adapt well to darker areas. This plant is definitely toxic to your pet.

4. English Ivy
English Ivy filters out benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene. It is a great plant for small spaces because it is commonly grown as a hanging plant indoors. It can also be trained to climb and used to create an ivy tree. It likes bright lightBright light that does not have to be the sun. In fact, keep it out of direct sunlight. Ivy thrives in fluorescent light. This plant, too, is toxic to pets.

5. Barberton Daisy (Gerbera Daisy)
Gerbera Daisies soak in benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. Another of the flowering clean-air plants, this plant provides a lovely pop of color. Giving this plant more direct sunlight will result in a generous number of flowers; 6+ hours of direct sunlight each day is recommended. These plants are not toxic to cats or dogs.

6. Spider Plant
Spider plants help take in formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. These plants are not too demanding. They need bright, indirect sunlight. Like the English Ivy, they can grow in artificial lighting. Making these houseplants attractive for small apartments they can grow in hanging planters and would not take up any floor space or table top. These plants are not toxic to dogs or cats.

7. Golden Pothos
Golden Pothos filters out benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. This is a versatile plant that tolerates lower light levels as well as bright, filtered light of a home. It also is another plant that grows well in a hanging planter and doesn’t have to take up space on a floor table top. If you have cats and dogs, it is best to keep this plant hanging high or avoid it entirely because it is toxic to dogs and cats.

8. Aloe Vera
Aside from Aloe’s well-known healing benefits, it cleans the air by filtering out benzene and formaldehyde. Keep your aloe vera in a sunny window. It will do fine in spots with indirect sunlight as well, but it will suffer in darker rooms. Though aloe products are used for healing burns and other health benefits in humans, it is toxic to both cats and dogs.

Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Polution Abatement, NASA; September 15, 1989
ASPCA – Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants

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The Storage Queens

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