It’s no secret that we spend most of our time indoors. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that people spend around 90% of their time inside. By not spending enough time outside, we are limiting our exposure to Vitamin D3 from the sun, while maximizing our exposure to indoor air pollution. Indoor air is 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air.
If we’re going to spend most of your time indoors, we should do our best to bring the benefits of the outdoors into our regular environment. Plants have incredible detoxifying benefits, particularly when it comes to air purification. Here are 7 detoxifying plants to consider adding to your home’s indoor plant collection, to keep the air clean and your immune system strong:
1. Aloe. We all know how effective aloe is at soothing skin burns. Perhaps one of the aloe plant’s lesser known functions is that of air purification. Aloe plants have been found to absorb formaldehyde (found in carpeting), benzene (found in paints), carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and may be even more effective than synthetic air filters at removing harmful toxins from the air. If you use chemical cleaners in your home, aloe will absorb the chemicals and develops brown spots if they reach a high level—an effective warning sign to diminish use for minimal toxicity.
2. English Ivy. Like aloe, this plant also absorbs formaldehyde and benzene, along with a variety of other indoor air pollutants, including ammonia, xylene (found in adhesives), toluene and trichloroethylene (found in plastics). It also reduces airborne fecal particles. Typically used as a hanging plant, English Ivy is very easy to grow and climbs as it does, making it ideal for an indoor space with wall or ceiling beams.
3. Peace Lily. This incredible plant is both beautiful and functional! Its pretty white blooms add a serene feel to any environment, bringing a sense of peace and calmness to those gathered around it. It also removes all of the same toxins as the English Ivy, plus acetone and alcohols (which makes it a great addition to any nail salon!) This plant likes shade and is easy to care for—it only needs to be watered weekly. So if you’re not great at remembering to care for your plants, this low-maintenance plant is the perfect option.
4. Spider Plant. No one likes a house full of spiders, but a house full of spider plants is a different story! One of the most common houseplants, the spider plant is another great low-maintenance option for the busy homeowner. Unlike spiders, it’s not very easy to kill, extremely easy to care for and great at removing a variety of indoor air pollutants, including formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, benzene, styrene and xylene (a solvent found in rubber and leather). The spider plant is also able to perform photosynthesis with minimal lighting, making it ideal for indoor use, particularly in the more shaded areas of your home. Characterized by long, wispy leaves and tiny, white flowers, it’s also easy on the eyes (also unlike spiders!)
5. Rubber Plant. The bright, thick, green leaves of the rubber plant filter formaldehyde, ammonia and benzene from the air, while improving the aesthetic quality of any indoor space. However, it is much more high maintenance than the above-mentioned plants, as it requires a lot of light and water to survive. It is also poisonous when consumed, and so should be kept far away from children and pets. As far as detoxifying plants go, this isn’t my first choice, but it’s a great addition to the top of a high shelf near a bright, open window.
6. Snake Plant. Also known as the Good-Luck Plant or the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, the snake plant plant is virtually indestructible, so if you’re looking for an incredibly low-maintenance option with a long lifespan, this is it! It needs little-to-no lighting and effectively removes a variety of indoor air pollutants, including formaldehyde, toluene, benzene, xylene and trichloroethylene.
7. Bamboo. Also relatively low-maintenance, the bamboo palm is great at removing formaldehyde from the air in your home. It requires just a couple of hours of direct sunlight and regular watering to thrive and is non-toxic to pets as well.