Top 5 houseplants to help purify the air in your home

Private Property South Africa
Veronica Logan

During the late 1980’s, NASA scientists undertook a study of common houseplants to establish whether they could serve as “natural” air purifiers for use on their space stations. Their research revealed that when placed in a sealed container of air containing chemical vapors or indoor air toxins, certain houseplants were able to remove these chemicals and toxins from the air quite effectively. It was therefore concluded that certain houseplants can therefore be used to remove air pollutants in our homes, offices and other indoor spaces, making it much healthier and safer for us to breathe.

Here is our list of five common household plants you can use to purify the air you breathe:


Peace Lilies were found to be the most effective plants in removing all three of the commonly found indoor air pollutants - formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. These pollutants are commonly found in a host of indoor goods such as wall or furniture paint as well as in synthetic fibres found in upholstery or carpets. These elegant beauties were also found to effectively combat toluene, found in some multipurpose cleaners and floor polishes. Not only are they easy on the eye, but they are easy to care for, no matter what your track record is as a plant-parent.


In addition to bring a cheery pop of colour to any space, Barberton Daisies are also highly effective at removing formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene as mentioned above. They are also super low maintenance plants and easy to grow in most sunny indoor spaces.


Also known as Mother-in-law’s Tongue, these striking succulents are one of the best at removing formaldehyde - the toxin is commonly found in indoor cleaning products, toilet paper, tissues and other personal care products - from the air. They also absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen during the night which could also give any room a slight oxygen boost while the world is asleep.


These tropical plants are easy to grow and highly effective at removing formaldehyde and benzene from the air. They also serve as a great natural humidifier if you occasionally mist the leaves, given their propensity for thriving in humid, tropical conditions. In addition, their bright red berries can bring a fresh pop of contrasting colour to beautify any space!


Perhaps one of the most useful plants on the planet due to its vast number of healing and cleansing properties, aloe veras are an absolute must for any home or indoor work space. Not only can they help soothe skin irritations or accidental burns, they work wonders in purifying the air from carbon monoxide - created when using gas stoves or fireplaces - as well as formaldehyde and benzene, the toxins found in floor varnishes, cleaning detergents and certain kinds of paint. They are also easy to grow and a beautiful addition to any room with plenty of natural sunlight.

While we can’t completely remove all toxins or pollutants from the air we breathe in on an everyday basis, indoor houseplants might just allow us an easy and cost-effective respite from those toxins lurking around us. By bringing more of the natural outdoors in, we could make the air we breathe just that bit more pure and free from harmful substances - now isn’t that truly cause to breathe a sigh of relief!

Read more: Making sense of home scents

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