House plants have long been prized for their beautiful appearance. They tend to give our homes a more pleasant and comfortable feel—studies show they help improve mood and mental health, too. But did you know house plants can also help with overall physical health? By acting as organic filters, common household plants can naturally improve the air quality within our homes, removing toxins and other pollutants in the process. In addition to helping regulate humidity, house plants can eliminate mold spores, dust, bacteria, synthetic chemicals and other allergens, too. However, as far as air-filtering goes, not all plants are created equal. And, unfortunately, some of the very best air-purifying plants are toxic for pets. So, what house plant is right for you? We're going to help you find out.
Here are ten of the best air-purifying house plants (Don't worry—we'll let you know which ones are pet safe!)
Aloe Vera (NOT Pet Safe)
This ornamental succulent is popular for its good looks, skin benefits and, in some cases, even its taste. Less known, however, is aloe vera’s skill for removing toxins from the air, such as formaldehyde and benzene, which are commonly found in household cleaners and paints.
This resilient and low maintenance plant can remove up to 90% of formaldehyde, benzene, styrene, xylene and carbon monoxide from the air. A single spider plant is able to efficiently filter a room of approximately 200 sq. ft.
Famed for its delicate beauty, the peace lily is one of the most visually appealing ways to purify your home’s air. Benzene, xylene, toluene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde—the peace lily removes all these toxins. It also cleanses the air of acetone, which comes from electronics and adhesives, among other household items.
Requiring only moderate sunshine and capable of growing fairly large, the bamboo palm makes for a great house plant. According to NASA, bamboo palm is also one of the most effective plants at removing air pollutants, especially formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, xylene, benzene and chloroform.
Ficus Tree (NOT Pet Safe)
Although this little tree is toxic for pets, it has a wealth of benefits as an air purifier. It can remove bacteria and mold spores from the air, too. Your ficus will do best in indirect sunlight (too much sun can burn the leaves) and in relatively humid conditions.
Garden Mum (NOT Pet Safe)
This cute little perennial is a staple of many households due to its inexpensive cost and vivid colors. But the gorgeous garden mum is also a powerful air purifier, capable of ridding your home of ammonia, xylene, benzene, toluene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.
Ideal for offices because it requires little sunlight and can grow in cooler temperatures, the golden pothos is both attractive and useful. Although toxic to pets and people if ingested, this plant is a superstar at improving air quality. It's especially good at removing carbon monoxide, making it a great fit for garages and other work spaces, too.
Boston Fern (Pet Safe)
The Boston fern has been enjoyed as a house plant for centuries. This small, unusual looking plant needs constant sunshine and fairly humid conditions. Prized as one of the most efficient natural air purifiers, the Boston fern helps remove formaldehyde and xylene from the air. It's a mild air humidifier, too.
Dracaena is ideal for newly carpeted and newly furnished homes because of its unique ability to remove high levels of formaldehyde from the air. This sturdy, easy-to-grow plant also helps fight against benzene, xylene and toluene, all of which are known carcinogens.
Most people are accustomed to seeing this climbing vine outdoors, where it regularly streaks up the sides of houses and college buildings. However, we now know that English ivy is essentially an invasive species, and therefore it's best kept inside the home. Although toxic for pets if ingested, English ivy can be extremely beneficial for pet owners because it helps reduce airborne fecal matter. It's also known for helping to remove formaldehyde and mold, too.