The Best Air Purifying Plants: Houseplants That Clean the Air

Updated on May 8, 2019
Daughter Of Maat profile image

With over two decades of experience in medicine, Melissa Flagg writes patient education articles, keeping you informed about your health.

Purple Chrysanthemums
Purple Chrysanthemums | Source

Most of us don't realize our indoor air quality is atrocious. It can be polluted by a number of different toxins, the most common of which are formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene.

  • Trichloroethylene, or TCE, is commonly used in paints, printer inks, lacquers, adhesives and varnishes. Most TCE is used in the dry cleaning industry and for degreasing metal. The National Cancer Institute has declared TCE an extremely toxic liver carcinogen.
  • Benzene is a solvent that is commonly used in gasoline, inks, rubber, paints, plastics and oils. It has also been used in the production of detergents, dyes, and explosives. However, its most troublesome use is in the production of pharmaceuticals.
  • Formaldehyde is found everywhere. Its use in urea-formaldehyde foam insulation, of UFFI, and particle and pressed wood products has been well publicized. Unfortunately, it is also used in consumer paper products such as paper towels, facial tissue, grocery bags, and waxed papers as well as the majority of household cleaning products.

Other toxins include ammonia, xylene, and toluene.

Plants not only filter toxins, they also regulate the humidity in the home. NASA recommends that for an 1800 sq-ft house, there should be 15–18 large plants in the home. This should provide optimal coverage. So, which houseplant help purify the air.

The Best Air Purifying Plants

  1. The Peace Lily
  2. The Spider Plant
  3. Red-Edged Dracaena
  4. The Snake Plant
  5. Flowers of the Snake Plant

How many houseplants do you have?

See results
The Peace Lily
The Peace Lily | Source

1. The Peace Lily

Spathiphyllum cochlearispathum, or Peace Lily, is one of the more ornate houseplants that double as an air purifier.

It is able to filter benzene, formaldehyde and TCE, as well as ammonia, xylene and toluene. It has a single petal, known as a spathe, which surrounds a spadix, or fleshy stem, and the leaves are large and broad. It is an herbaceous perennial plant that requires little light (it does best in the shade) and only needs to be watered when the soil is dry.

The Peace Lily is toxic to cats and dogs if ingested. Humans are only mildly affected by its toxic effects.

The Spider Plant
The Spider Plant | Source

2. The Spider Plant

Also called Chlorophytum comosum, the spider plant is actually an herb. It’s also a flowering perennial native to South Africa. There are three different varieties. One plant has all green leaves and there are two variegated versions:

  • Middle to dark green leaves with a white stripe down the middle
  • White margins surrounding middle to dark green leaves

The two variegated versions of the spider plant are most commonly sold as houseplants.

The spider plant is a hardy one; it can withstand temperatures as low as 35 F. It prefers temperatures between 65 F and 90 F. It’s the perfect plant for someone who has a tendency to kill plants because of neglect.

It works well for filtering benzene, formaldehyde, toluene and xylene. It’s mildly toxic to dogs, and non-toxic to cats.

The red-edged dracaena
The red-edged dracaena | Source

3. Red-Edged Dracaena

Dracaena marginata, also called the red-edged dracaena, is a quite popular as an ornamental houseplant. As its name suggests, it has a red edge on its leaves, and is a rather tolerant plant.

It does not need a lot of sunlight, and will survive despite being watered sporadically. Soil should be well-drained, however, because the plants roots are susceptible to root rot. Although not as tolerant of extreme temperatures as the spider plant, it will does well in the temperature range of 64 F to 77 F.

It’s unfortunate that this beautiful plant is toxic to both cats and dogs because it filters out several toxins including formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene.

Plants and Toxicity

Plant Name
Peace Lily
Toxic to both cats and dogs
Formaldehyde, ammonia, toluene, benzene, xylene
Spider Plant
Not toxic to cats, may be mildly toxic to dogs
Formaldehyde, xylene and toluene
Red-edged Dracaena
Toxic to both cats and dogs
Benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene
Snake Plant
Toxic to both cats and dogs
Benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, trichloroethylene
Poisonous to cats, dogs, horses and humans
Formaldehyde, ammonia, benzene, toluene, xylene, trichloroethylene
The snake plant
The snake plant | Source

4. The Snake Plant

Sansevieria trifasciata, also called the snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue, is an evergreen perennial plant that is native to West Africa.

It is typically used as an ornamental plant because of its showy flowers. The snake plant does well even in areas with very little light, and tolerates drought well. However, it is not tolerant of being over watered. Its roots are susceptible to root rot, so soil should be well drained.

Unfortunately, this plant is also toxic to both cats and dogs, but it does filter out trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, benzene and formaldehyde.

The flowers of the snake plant
The flowers of the snake plant | Source

5. Flowers of the Snake Plant

Chrysanthemums, also called mums, are most commonly used as ornamental plants because of their showy, brightly colored flowers. There are actually about 30 different species of mums and 140 varieties.

Not as hardy as other air purifying plants, the chrysanthemum needs direct sunlight in order for its flowers to open. It requires well-drained soil and regular watering.

This is definitely not a plant for pet owners, despite its beauty. It is poisonous to cats, dogs, and even horses, as well as humans if ingested. However, like the Peace Lily, it filters out the most common toxins including formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, toluene, trichloroethylene, and ammonia.

Maroon chrysanthemums
Maroon chrysanthemums | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Melissa Flagg COA OSC


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      5 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Apparently I am doing a good job! I have several peace plants and spider plants in my house. I have 2 snake plants, but I don't have any chrysanthemums inside the house. Ironically, I just sat down from re-potting 2 of my spider plants.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 

      6 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Dim Flaxenwick, I know what you mean! I've gotten much better at not killing my plants over the years, but I had no idea there were so many plants that actually cleaned the air! And yes, both central heating and central air can easily spread mold spores among other things. Living in Florida, we always have our A/C on, so I'm slowing getting a collection of these plants throughout the house!

    • Daughter Of Maat profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 

      6 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      I don't mind at all! Share away! lol :D

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 

      6 years ago from Great Britain

      Forgot to mention. I hope you don't mind l shared this with all my facebook friends.(I also spelled your name wrong).

      Think l need a lie down..

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 

      6 years ago from Great Britain

      WOW! This is fascinating information for me. I have only one spider plant, because l feel even I can't kill a spiderplant.!!!!!

      I've been concerned about the air in my home in Winter.My husband needs the house to be pretty warm and central heating has its drawbacks. I really needed to read this because as I am sure you and every man and his dog on hubpages knows that l am very unhappy about being dragged from my lovely island in the Atlantic Ocean to live out my old age in the North of England.

      Now l have a mission, thank you. I think i'll start with the snake plant.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 

      6 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Thanks Phoenix. I was amazed myself. Plants are actually more effective than an air purifier (and cheaper!)

    • Daughter Of Maat profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 

      6 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Thanks Pamela, I myself have a tendency to kill most plants, but after researching this article, I think I may have teach myself some gardening! I'd like to put plants all over my home, because its an older home so I'm sure the air really needs to be cleaned lol

    • Daughter Of Maat profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 

      6 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Thanks nArchuleta! I have pets myself, and I live in an older home so I was really interested in which plants would clean my air but still be safe for my pets (I have 6 cats!) You're sister is quite lucky!! You might want to look into seeing if you can grow your own mother-in-law's tongue from one of her cuttings.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 

      6 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Thanks Sue! There are actually quite a few plants that can clean the air, I was amazed at how many there were.

    • Sue Bailey profile image

      Susan Bailey 

      6 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      Very interesting. I had no idea. Voted up and interesting

    • nArchuleta profile image

      Nadia Archuleta 

      6 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Great information -- I especially appreciate how you describe which plants are toxic to pets. My sister has a mother-in-law's tongue that grows rampant -- I don't even think she realizes its air purification benefits. Thanks for sharing!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I had heard that plants help purify the air but I did not know the specifics. I love plants fortunately, so I have quite a few but after reading your article I think I need to get a couple more large ones. Very interesting information.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I never knew plant could purify the air. And the ones you've suggested would greatly enhance the look and feel of any room. Good hub.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)