NASA's Top air-purifying plants

Liz Filmer
26 Nov 2021

NASA carried out a study back in 1989 on the ability of plants to purify the air. This was initially to look at how they could clean the air in space stations.

A healthy home environment is essential to good mental health and well being, and houseplants can contribute to this. This research is quite old but is still regarded as the most comprehensive and accurate information available on the subject.

The "clean air study" claimed that efficient air cleaning could be achieved with the presence of at least one plant in every 100 square ft (9.3 m2) of space. It suggested that certain common indoor plants may naturally remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from our immediate environment. 

VOC's such as BenzeneBenzene (found in plastics, fabrics, pesticides and cigarette smoke) and formaldehyde (found in cosmetics, dish soap, fabric softener and carpet cleaner) are commonly found in indoor environments and have been linked to many conditions, including severe respiratory illnesses and cancer.

The plants remove these compounds from the air by absorbing the harmful gases through leaves and roots. Additionally, micro-organisms that live in soil can also help to neutralise these pollutants. 

Here are 5 of the plants on NASA's list that can help purify the air in your home

This perennial vine is very simple to grow. It would be perfect for your bathroom as it has a handy talent for removing airborne faecal particles! Ivy can also help reduce mould levels, making it ideal for the bathroom or any areas prone to dampness.

TIP: English Ivy loves generous watering and lots of direct sunlight.

This yellow-tipped succulent releases oxygen at night and is ideal for helping you get a better night's sleep. It is one of themost effective plants for filtering formaldehyde, xylene, BenzeneBenzene, toluene, and Trichloroethylene from the air.

TIP: Be very mindful of over-watering this plant as the roots will rot quickly in moist soil.

Keep aloe plants in the kitchen as their naturally sooting properties are an excellent treatment for minor burns. Aloe plants also help purify the air from formaldehyde and BenzeneBenzene which are found in varnishes, floor finishes, and detergents.

TIP: Aloe Vera loves the sunlight, so a window sill (preferably in the kitchen)is a perfect home.

this spiky, red-trimmed plant can reduce emissions of Trichloroethylene, found in cleaning wipes, aerosols, paint removers, spray adhesives, carpet cleaners, spot removers and the solvent Xylene.

TIP: Like its name, this plant can grow into a monster so that it will require high ceilings and lots of sunlight

Spider plants remove carbon monoxide and the solvent xylene from the air. Great for the home, office or home office! It is also one of the few houseplants that are non-toxic to animals.

TIP: Easy to care for and re-pot, spider plants do not need much attention, making for a perfect first houseplant.

More recent evidence has pointed toward the usefulness and versatility of houseplants to our indoor environment—a place where we can sometimes spend up to 90% of our time.

Houseplants can improve the indoor environment by increasing microbial abundance and diversity, keeping harmful bacteria at bay. Houseplants are also thought to enhance our productivity by lowering our stress and anxiety levels.

Liz Filmer