The best houseplants to clean the air

There’s something so refreshing about breathing in clean air — it’s such a rarity when you live right in the middle of a busy metropolitan city like I do. I remember when I first moved out, almost every plant that entered my apartment died. I’m not sure what’s happened since, but over the years I’ve somehow managed to not only keep them alive — but also encourage them to thrive.

Breathing is the body’s way of releasing toxins and purifying the systems. The belief is that proper breathing can transform your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. It re-establishes psychological, neurological, immunological and endocrinological equilibrium (big words, I know). This happens when the blood becomes saturated with oxygen, while carbon dioxide and other toxins are eliminated.

So, if you’re like me and the closest mountain/forest/green space is miles away, here are a few of the best houseplants to detoxify the air in your home (keep your kids and pets away from them though, as they can be dangerous if ingested):

  1. Peace Lily: This plant is one of the most efficient at removing airborne volatile organic compounds, including formaldehyde (a colourless gas), trichloroethylene (an industrial solvent) and benzene (an ingredient in things like dyes and detergents). These plants require very little light or water and they are wonderful at purifying the air.
  2. Areca Palm: This plant removed more toluene (found in paint thinners, nail polish remover and glue) and xylene (a printing, rubber and leather solvent) than any other. Toluene is one of the notorious “toxic trio,” along with formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate, which are hazardous to our health.
  3. Aloe Vera: Its leaves contain a clear liquid full of vitamins, enzymes, amino acids and other compounds that work to heal wounds, while having antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This succulent helps clear the air of formaldehyde.
  4. Chrysanthemum: These plants have beautiful blooms that cleanse the air of common chemicals like formaldehyde, xylene, ammonia, benzene, toluene and trichloroethylene.
  5. Devil’s Ivy: This plant cleanse the air of pollutants like benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene and formaldehyde. It is super easy to take care of, just leave it near a window, away from direct sunlight.
  6. Bamboo Palm: This plant filters and removes benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. The palms thrive in bright light and can grow to be quite tall.
  7. Snake Plant: Or mother-in-law’s tongue (yikes!) This houseplant is considered one of the best for absorbing airborne toxins like formaldehyde, nitrogen oxide, benzene, xylene and trichloroethylene. Make sure not to overwater or it’ll rot.
  8. English Ivy: Also known as European Ivy, this is another popular houseplant that filters airborne toxins inside the home. It is good at cleansing benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene from the air, while also reducing mould. Give it plenty of direct sunlight, water generously and make sure the soil is able to be well-drained.
  9. Golden pothos: This plant is great at tackling formaldehyde (think of all the toxins coming from your car exhaust). Keep it in a bright area and make sure not to overwater it.
  10. Weeping fig: This houseplant can help filter pollutants in carpeting and furniture like formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. This plant is a little trickier to take care of, requiring consistency and bright, indirect light.

Do you have a green thumb or is it more #goals? What are your favourite plants to keep around the house?

Articles consulted for this blog post:


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