Plants do more for us than just appeal to our visual sense — they also provide safer and cleaner air. Not all plants are created equal, however. Some plants work harder than others to remove toxins from our home. Check out the list compiled below to find the right plant for your home to cleanse the air and add a little greenery. Of course, you don’t have to settle for just one plant. Choose as many as you can handle and reap the benefits.
The Boston fern is said to remove more formaldehyde than any other plant, which makes it an easy choice for topping this list. Boston ferns will also remove benzene and xylene from the air. This plant is a little picky, however. It likes moist and humid conditions, which can be a little difficult to maintain — especially when winter rolls around. Misting your plants or setting out a saucer with water and pebbles can help raise the humidity and keep your Boston fern happy. The good news for all the parents out there is the Boston fern is nontoxic. The only complaint some parents have about this plant is it can get a little messy when the leaves drop.
The spider plant goes into the “nearly indestructible” column, so it’s perfect for people who struggle to care for even the easiest of plants. You practically have to hit this one with a car to do any lasting harm. Even though these plants prefer moist soil, they’ll tolerate being under-watered. The spider plant will forgive pretty much anything you can throw at it. It’s even safe for pets, though it can be mildly hallucinogenic for cats. If your cat seems like the chewing type, you might want to keep them away.
These plants like bright to moderate light but prefer to be kept away from direct light. During the spring and summer, fertilizing twice a month will keep your spider plants extra happy and healthy. Spider plants will remove carbon monoxide, benzene, xylene and formaldehyde from the air. This weird-looking plant definitely has your back when it comes to cleaning up the air in your home.
The peace lily will actually bloom indoors, giving you something beautiful to look at while your little plant does its job. Peace lilies can remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that come from cleaners as well as benzene and formaldehyde. The peace lily prefers low-light conditions, so it’s perfect for rooms that don’t get an abundance of natural sunlight. Peace lilies have a high transpiration rate that can humidify the air, so this plant can be a great companion for plants that prefer a moister environment.
Above all, the peace lily has been rated as a no-brainer for those with black thumbs. While it’s not impossible to kill this plant, your usual method of forgetting to tend your plants won’t work as easily on this purifying pick. This plant is best if kept away from the grabby hands — and hungry mouths — of little ones and furry friends. Consider keeping it up out of reach until your kids get past the “put-everything-in-my-mouth” phase.
While the golden pothos isn’t high on the list of formaldehyde removers, it’s included here because it’s nearly impossible to kill, making it perfect for homeowners with a black thumb. Golden pothos does well in low-light situations and will be okay if you forget to water it every now and then. The golden pothos actually prefers to dry out a little between waterings but will still tolerate the occasional over-watering. This little helper is toxic if ingested, so you’ll want to keep it away from any pets or curious children who might try to make it a snack.
English ivy can be invasive outdoors, but once inside, the plant makes a decorative formaldehyde remover. English ivy prefers partial shade and partial sun, and it’s less temperamental than the Boston fern. Mist your plant occasionally and water when the soil is dry, and this climbing plant should live contentedly alongside you. English ivy will remove air pollutants other than formaldehyde too — this carefree plant can even reduce mold spores in your home. This plant is toxic and should be kept out of reach of pets or children that might eat it.
Whether you’re trying to clean the air or just enjoy that as a side benefit, it never hurts to have fresh plants in the home. Your new plants provide a taste of the outside world without having to leave the comfort of your home, and it’ll put your mind at ease knowing your plants are working hard to make your house a safer and healthier place to be.
Ali Lawrence is a kombucha tea-sipping writer who focuses on healthy and sustainable living via her family blog Homey Improvements. She also writes about DIY projects, home tips and organic gardening. Ali dabbles in Pilates and is a princess for hire for kid’s parties. Find her on Twitter at @DIYfolks.