Plants That Will Clean Your Home! (The Air, That Is)

We live in dirty homes and apartments, and work in dirty office buildings. It's a fact. Yes, you probably just vacuumed and dusted, or the janitor came and emptied the office trash can, but I'm not talking about your floors or desk tops or kitchens. Your air is dirty.

Very dirty, actually. I'm talking specifically about VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, that are present at almost every stage of construction and well past; flooring (finishing on wood or tile and carpet), wall coverings (paint, especially), furniture (chemicals in staining or dyeing and conditioning), even electronics (printers, copy machines). You know that 'new car smell' that everyone loves? Yeah, that's a VOC.

Studies have shown that we spend around 90% of our time indoors. Thats 90% of all of our time, every day. And because of these VOCs, the air we breathe indoors can be almost 10 times more dangerous than anything outdoors. That's where the plants come in. A recent study by Ballieux Organic Architects and Nieuwkoop Eurpoe used NASA-approved equipment to measure the molecular composition of air in two school classrooms, one with plants and one without (for best results, one 12in. potted plant for every 100sqft). It was proven that the classroom with plants had 50% less Volatile Organic Compounds. Better air quality, less illness, and less allergy related symptoms. That's along with other proven benefits of having plants around, including increased happiness, improved sleep, sharper focus and improved memory retention, and better quality work output.

So in an effort to get you breathing easy, here are the best plants for scrubbing your dirty air.


Bamboo Palm

Easy to care for, thrives in low light, and tolerates hot and cold air temperature changes (conditioned air indoors). Grows up to 6ft. high, so make sure you have space for it.

Removes; formaldehyde 


Areca Palm

Another easy-to-care-for indoor-tolerant plant, great for increasing humidity and highest ranking plant for removal of toxins from the air. Also grows up to 6ft. high. Needs bright direct light.

Removes; carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, benzyne (a carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent)

Dwarf Date Palm

Another excellent scrubber, and great for low light areas. Can grow up to 10ft. tall, so keep an eye on growth and maybe move it outside when it reaches maturity.

Removes; formaldehyde, xylene (chemical found in plastics and solvents)


Boston fern

Best in bright lights and moist soil (regular watering), but is a natural humidifier and another 'best' and air purifying.

Removes; formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene (chemical used in solvents and cleaning agents)

Kimberly Queen Fern

Needs bright (but indirect) light and best with regular watering while letting the soil dry out a bit between waterings. 

Removes; formaldehyde, xylene, toluene (chemical used in common glues and thinners)

Flowering Plants

peace lily

Best in bright, indirect light and loves lots and lots of water. Good for cleaning the air of course, but also known to remove spores and molds from the air. Would be great for kitchens and bathrooms.

Removes; benzene, trichloroethylene, alcohols and acetone, formaldehyde


Best in partial light and a lot of water, but they are generally annuals, maybe not best year round.

Removes; benzene, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, ammonia



moth orchid

Thrives in relatively high humidity and heavy waterings with near-complete drying of soil in between.

Removes; formaldehyde



Hopefully you can use this post as a guide to get some much needed greenery in your home or work place. Do it for your health!