Best Air purifying Indoor Plants to grow at home

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Best Air purifying Indoor Plants to grow at home | for Clear air | Oxygen giving | Removes toxins

Home is the only place that protects us from every harmful ailment like sunlight, bad colds, strong winds, pollutions, etc. We love our home as we feel that it is the safest place to live. But the fact is, indoor air also contains certain concentrations of toxins sometimes even more than outdoor air when there is no proper ventilation. Yes, it’s true. Here is the detailed information of some of the air purifying plants along with the sources, chemicals involved, and protective measures of indoor air pollution.

           We all know that some indoor plants help in eliminating harmful toxins and improving household air conditions. But these plants only help in reducing the concentrations of these chemicals but not in eradicating their emissions into the air. So, knowing the sources from where these chemicals are getting emitted into our indoor air is also important to find any solution for it. By this we can reduce the use of those entities (sources) and of course can grow plants accordingly (according to chemicals present). So let’s have a glance at those sources and the chemicals which they emit.


Sources of indoor air pollution:

1. Burning of traditional fuels:

According to WHO(World Health Organization), annually around 4.3 million people are dying due to household air pollution. Can you believe it? And the main source of this pollution is the burning of traditional fuels like firewood, charcoal, cow dung (emits dioxins) for cooking purposes.

Chemicals/pollutants they emit:  Particulate matter, CO, NO2, SO2, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

        Burning of traditional fuels - Indoor Plants to grow at home

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Using these fuels (mainly in villages) is may be our tradition, but they result in emissions of many harmful pollutants (mentioned above) when we see it scientifically. Women and children (in villages) are mostly affected by these chemicals as they spend most of their time indoors. This is why they are more prone to lung cancers, strokes, heart problems, and also to some pulmonary diseases.


2. Burning of organic materials:

Burning of organic materials like wood, coal, and petroleum products (like kerosene) also results in the emission of chemicals into our household air. Even in urban areas these organic materials are used to heat water and for other purposes

Chemicals they emit: Benzene, xylene, toluene.

3. Tobacco smoke:

It is a known fact that tobacco is injurious to our health. It not only ruins our health but also ruins the environment. Tobacco smoke contains more than 7000 chemicals, that are detrimental to both humans and the environment. Out of these 7000, 70 chemicals are known to cause cancers in humans. We call these cancer causing chemicals carcinogens.

     Tobacco smoking - Try growing Air purifying Indoor Plants

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Chemicals they emit: Benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde.


4. Dry cleaned clothes:

Dry cleaning may improve the longevity of your clothes but many chemical-based solvents are used in this process of cleaning. Those chemical residues present in the clothes escapes into the air and pollute it.

Chemicals they emit: Trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene.


5. Paints, resins, glues, lacquers, building products, paper products:

All these products contain formaldehyde in their composition which is a serious air pollutant. Due to its toxicity, it is banned in the USA and some other countries. It is even classified as a human carcinogen by WHO. We all are exposed to small amounts of formaldehyde that is emitted by these products around us. 

Chemicals they emit: Formaldehyde along with some other traces of elements.

Formaldehyde can cause problems like eye, skin, and throat irritations. At higher exposure, it can cause cancers too.


6. Household products:

Products like dishwashing liquids, detergents, pesticides, carpets, insect repellents, air fresheners, deodorants, electric appliances, wooden furniture are composed of many chemicals, and some of these chemicals get emitted into the air and pollute it. 

Chemicals they emit: Volatile organic compounds(VOC).

          As these chemicals escape into the air in the form of vapor, they are known as volatile organic compounds. Most of the above mentioned chemicals like benzene, toluene, formaldehyde comes under this group of chemicals. At higher concentrations, these chemicals can result in eye irritations, respiratory problems, and headaches. 


7. Other sources:

Many products like cement pipes, gaskets, clothing, cement flat sheets, vinyl floor tiles, roofing coatings etc that are present in our home are made of using asbestos as an ingredient in their compositions. 

Chemicals they emit: VOC, asbestos.

Asbestos is banned in 55 countries as it is a carcinogen and known to cause lung cancers, asbestosis, mesothelioma, and many other health problems in humans when inhaled.

 So these are some of the sources of air pollution and this is how our indoor air gets polluted. There is a need to protect ourselves from these harmful chemicals in our home. Using chemical formulated sprays or products to reduce their concentrations is not a permanent solution as they can’t be used all the time and may lead to some or other problems. The simplest solution to this problem is growing air-purifying indoor plants. 

Like how trees purify the outdoor air, some indoor plants can purify the indoor air. These plants help in removing harmful particles (chemicals, pollutants) that are present in the air. In order to improve the air quality in a sealed spacecraft, NASA has conducted a study on plants in 1980 and they concluded that the roots and soil of house plants reduced airborne VOC. So they have recommended a few plants that performed well in purifying air. You can place these plants in different places in your home to keep your indoor air healthy.  


Areca palm, Aloe vera, Spider plant, Rubber plant, Broad lady palm, Chrysanthemum, Gerbera daisy, Weeping fig, Money plant, Dracaena, Aglaonema are some of the air-purifying plants that are recommended by NASA. Besides these plants Peace lily, ZZ plant, Boston fern, Fiddle leaf fig, English ivy are also known to improve the air quality around us. Let’s take a sneak peek into the toxins they remove.


Air purifying plants and the pollutants they clear/remove:

Air purifying plant

Toxins/pollutants it removes


Areca palm

 Xylene, toluene, formaldehyde


Spider plant

 Carbon monoxide (CO), xylene


Snake plant

 Benzene, xylene, toluene, formaldehyde,   trichloroethylene


Chinese evergreen (aglaonema)

 Benzene, formaldehyde


Rubber plant

 Carbon dioxide (CO2)


Money plant

 Benzene, xylene, toluene, formaldehyde


Aloe vera

 Benzene, formaldehyde


Broad lady palm

 Ammonia (in cleaning products)



 Xylene, trichloroethylene


Weeping fig

 Xylene, toluene, formaldehyde


Gerbera daisy

 Benzene, trichloroethylene


Peace lily

 Benzene, xylene, toluene, formaldehyde,   trichloroethylene


Boston fern

 Xylene, formaldehyde


English ivy

 Benzene, formaldehyde.


ZZ plant

 Xylene, toluene, benzene.



 Benzene, xylene, formaldehyde, and   ammonia.


1. Areca palm:

Areca palm is the most popular indoor plant and is available in different sizes in nurseries. It is tolerant to partial shade to full sun. They can be grown even outdoors but are mostly maintained indoors to have bright interiors. It is a very good air purifier.

Toxins or chemicals it removes: Xylene, toluene, formaldehyde.

Common problems:
  • Overwatering and keeping the soil wet all the time leads to problems like the browning of tips and yellowing of leaves and stems. So let the soil dry between every watering
  • Sometimes yellowing may also occur due to inadequate sunlight. In that case, place the plant in areas where it receives bright filtered sunlight.

Care tips:

  • Use well-drained soil or potting mix
  • Protect the plant from strong afternoon rays in hot summers when maintained outdoors
  • Place the plant near any window if maintained indoors
  • Water only when the top inch of the soil becomes dry as the areca palm is sensitive to waterlogged conditions.

2. Snake plant:

Snake plant is a wonderful indoor plant with many unique features. It stays unique in both shape and patterns of leaves. Besides purifying air, it also releases oxygen during nights. You can also place this plant in your bedrooms to improve the air conditions. It can tolerate a wide range of sunlight that is low light to full sun conditions. One can maintain it both indoors and outdoors.

Toxins or chemicals it removes: Benzene, xylene, toluene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene.

Common problems:

Yellowing of leaves: Like any other plant, yellowing, and dropping of older leaves are common. If there is yellowing in other leaves then it may be due to placing the plant in the complete shade (even without fluorescent light) or overwatering or nutrient deficiency.
If the yellowing is not due to shade/overwatering, fertilize the snake plant once a month in the growing season to improve the condition. 

Caring tips:

  • As snake plant is a succulent, water requirement will be low. It performs well even if you watered thoroughly once a week
  • Bright indirect light is ideal for its growth and development
  • Do not overwater the plant as it may lead to soft and soggy leaves
  • Always use well-drained soil for succulents. It cannot stand wet/waterlogged conditions as it may lead to the rotting of roots
  • Do not fertilize the plant in winter as it will be dormant.


3. Aglaonema/Chinese evergreen plant:

It is believed to be luck bringing plant in china and it is widely grown in Asian countries. The variegated species of aglaonema differ in size, color, and pattern of leaves. 

    Toxins or chemicals it removes: Benzene, formaldehyde

    Common problems:

    • Aglaonema also shows yellowing when it is overwatered. So always water plants only when the top inch of the soil becomes dry
    • Mealybugs are common pests of aglaonema. Overwatering favors mealybugs infestation as they are attracted to wet conditions. They reside in nodes of leaves and damage the leaves. Wipe them with a damp cloth and spray neem oil to avoid further infestation. If leaves are already infected badly, remove them.

    Care tips:

    • Aglaonema leaves are very sensitive to direct sunlight. Leaves tend to scorch when kept in direct light for a longer time
    • Place the plant anywhere in a room if it is receiving the window light
    • When maintained outdoors make sure you place it under a shrub/tree shade or anywhere(balconies, wall side) where it is receiving morning/ evening sunlight.


    4. Spider plant:

    It is another fantastic air purifying plant that clears carbon monoxide (CO), which is very harmful when inhaled.  A pigment named haemoglobin that is present in our blood helps in carrying oxygen to all parts of our body. When we inhale CO, it prevents the flow of oxygen in the blood. At higher concentrations, this may even lead to death. Having a clump of spider plants helps in regulating the CO levels in our indoor air. 

      Toxins or chemicals it removes: Carbon monoxide (CO), xylene.

                As the baby plants produced on their long trailing stems look like spiders crawling down from the web, this plant is named spider plant. It has many variegated species and performs well even in low light conditions. You can grow this plant anywhere in your home like hall, bedroom, and even in your bathrooms.

      Common problems:
      Browning of tips is the most common problem in spider plants that occur mainly due to water stress conditions. It may happen by both over and under watering. Over-fertilizing and too much sunlight may also lead to tip browning in spider plants.


      5. Peace lily:

      These plants are believed to bring peace around. Peace lily is also known as Spath, it is named after its botanical name Spathiphyllum (genus). Spaths have spoon-like white flowers (spathes - modified leaves/bracts) which look so stunning and steal attention no matter where they are placed. 

        Toxins or chemicals it removes: Benzene, xylene, toluene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene

        Common problems:

        • Green flowers: Although flowers appear green in the early and later stages of their life span. Some flowers remain green all the time which disfigures the decent look of the plant. This is mainly due to more than required sunlight and fertilizers
        • Drooping of stems and leaves: This occurs due to lack of adequate moisture in the soil
        • Tip burns/Sun scorching: This happens due to exposure of plants to harsh sunlight.

        Care tips:

        • You can place peace lily anywhere in a well-lit space of your home (not close to a window that receives direct sunlight). While north/west-facing window is ideal
        • Peace lily is a shade-loving plant so do not expose them to direct sunlight. This prevents green blooms and tip burns in them
        • It is not a heavy feeder so fertilize it with any organic fertilizers once in 75- 90 days (not in winters)
        • Peace lily is very sensitive to water stress. Its leaves start drooping immediately when the moisture level in the soil becomes slightly low. So do not let the soil become completely dry before watering
        • It is important to keep the soil moist all the time to prevent leaves and stems from drooping


        6. Rubber plant:

        Rubber plant looks very attractive with its broad and waxy leaves. It is very efficient in removing CO2 and converting it into breathable oxygen. Every plant does this but this plant performs it more efficiently (at higher amounts). This plant grows to greater heights with shiny leaves if maintained properly.

          Toxins or chemicals it removes: Carbon dioxide (CO2)

          Care tips:

          • It needs bright indirect sunlight but not hot rays
          • Keep the soil moist in the growing season (summer) and slightly dry in the dormant period (winter)
          • Wipe the leaves with a damp cloth or you can mist the plant to regulate the moisture level in summers
          • Make sure that the plant is not receiving direct sunlight as it may lead to scorching of their beautiful leaves.


          7. Aloe vera:

          We all know aloe vera, for its medicinal benefits but it is also a proven air purifier that clears benzene and formaldehyde that comes from varnishes and detergents in our home.

            Toxins or chemicals it removes: Benzene, formaldehyde

            Common problems:
            Root rot and soft rot are common problems in aloe vera, that occur mainly due to overwatering. Root rot is caused by fungi while soft rot is caused by bacteria. Damp or wet conditions favor these microbial diseases in aloe vera.

            Care tips:

            • Use well-drained soil
            • It performs well in bright indirect light to full sun conditions (6-8 hours)
            • It is very important to leave the soil dry for some days between waterings to prevent the attacks of microbial diseases
            • As it is a succulent, it stores water in its leaves. So watering it once in 7-10 days is ideal in the spring/summer seasons and once in 14-15 days in winters(dormant period) is ideal.

            8. ZZ plant:

            It is a perfect plant for both home and office. It survives well in any corner of the room as it doesn’t require much sunlight. It embellishes the surroundings with its long stems and pretty shining leaves.

              Toxins or chemicals it removes: Xylene, toluene, benzene.

              Care tips:

              • It performs well in low to bright indirect light conditions
              • Can be maintained in bedrooms as it can stand the low light conditions
              • Water it only when the top inch of soil becomes dry
              • Fertilize the plant once in 30-45 days with any of the organic fertilizers.


              9. Money plant:

              Money plant is one of the most commonly grown house plants of India. It believed to bring wealth and prosperity into our home. It can be either grown as a climber or a hanging plant as it looks good in both ways. Moreover, it is a good air purifying plant that helps in removing toxins from the air when grown around.

                Toxins or chemicals it removes: Benzene, xylene, toluene, formaldehyde.

                Common problems:

                • Yellowing of leaves is mostly seen in money plants. This occurs mainly due to overwatering or insufficient sunlight.
                • In many cases, it happens mainly due to overwatering. Some times this yellowing might be the early signs of root rot which occurs by prolonged wet conditions of the soil.
                • Burning of tips mainly happens due to over-fertilizing.
                • Scorching of leaves is seen in money plant when it is exposed to direct sunlight. So make sure that your money plant is away from the window where it receives the direct sun rays.

                Care tips:

                • Money plant does well in low to bright indirect light conditions.
                • Never place your money plant in direct sunlight as their sensitive leaves tend to scorch easily.
                • Do not over-water your money plants as it may lead to many problems
                • Fertilize once in 30-40 days to boost the shoot growth of the plant.


                10. Boston fern:

                Boston fern is a water-loving plant that looks exceptionally beautiful in hanging baskets with its feathery leaves. 

                  Toxins or chemicals it removes: Xylene, formaldehyde

                  Common problems:
                  Mealybugs are common pests of ferns as they love moisture conditions too. Keep a regular check on your plant and spray neem oil if there are any infestations.

                  Care tips:

                  • Boston fern requires a moderate-cool climate with high humidity
                  • Ferns require a good amount of sunlight for their development so always place your ferns in bright indirect light but not in direct sunlight
                  • It is very important to keep the soil moist (not wet) as it is a water-loving plant.
                  • Placing the pot in a tray of water with pebbles or misting the plant once or twice a week is ideal to maintain the humidity level around the plant.


                  So these are some of the air purifying plants that eliminate toxic chemicals from the air to have better household air conditions. Some of these plants are toxic to humans and pets (only when they are ingested). So keep your children and pets away from these plants. And the other important point to remember is overwatering of plants leads to leaching of nutrients and eventually results in yellowing and rotting kind of problems.  So never overwater your plants. In addition to growing these air-purifying plants, we should also follow some measures to reduce the emissions of these chemicals. Let’s take a glance.


                  Preventive measures to reduce the emissions of harmful chemicals into the indoor air


                  • First and foremost measure is Quit smoking. As I already told u before, its smoke contains several carcinogens that pollute the air and your health as well. At least make sure that you don’t smoke in areas where people stay most of the time ex. Living rooms
                  • Maintain proper ventilation throughout your home
                  • Use natural cleaning products
                  • Strictly follow “no shoe policy” inside the home. And also ask visitors to leave their footwear outside. By this entry of unwanted pests and chemicals into the home will be reduced
                  • Invest in a good vacuum cleaner, that is capable of filtering small particles present in mats, carpets kind of utilities
                    Make your home free of chemical particles
                    image source.
                  • Avoid using deodorants, insect repellants, and pesticides (for plants) and get into organic ways.
                  • Reduce the use of air conditioners. Because ACs also emit chemicals like chloro-fluoro-carbons (CFCs) which are very harmful to our health and environment


                    Frequently asked questions:

                    1. Is it harmful to have plants in bedrooms?
                      Plants indeed release CO2 at night but those concentrations will not harm humans or any animals (pets). Plants release a very low amount of CO2 which is lower than even humans. So it is completely alright to maintain plants in your home. 

                    2. Which plants are good for bedrooms?
                      Plants that do better even in low light conditions like Pothos, Snake plant, Spider plant, Philodendron, Monstera, Rubber plant are more likely to be maintained in bedrooms.
                    3. Which indoor plants release oxygen at night?
                      Snake plant, Spider plant, Aloe vera, and Areca palm are some of the indoor plants that release oxygen at night. One can maintain these plants even in their bedroom to improve their sleeping and breathing issues.

                    4. What is the major source of indoor air pollution?
                      Burning of traditional fuels for cooking purposes is the main source of most of the indoor air pollution in the country. It is resulting in the deaths of millions of people annually. 

                    5. What are the major air pollutants?
                      Particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOC), tobacco smoke, CO are some of the major indoor air pollutants.

                    6. What are the major problems of indoor air pollution?
                      Indoor air pollution leads to many problems which we neglect often. They are headaches, dizziness, nausea, respiratory problems, eye irritations, sore throat. At prolonged exposures of higher concentrations may also lead to cancers.

                    7. Does money plant grow better in soil or water?
                      Money plants grow well both in soil and water. But it grows faster in soil when compared to water. Do not forget to change the water every week when grown in water.

                    8. Should I cut the brown tips of my spider plant?
                      Browning of tips occurs when the plant is exposed to too much sunlight or high humidity. It also happens due to over-fertilizing of the plant.
                      You can cut the brown tips to make it look good but try to maintain the plant indoors or in shade (outdoors) and do not fertilize more than once a month to prevent your plant from tip browning.

                    9. Why is my pothos not growing?
                      Sometimes pothos (money plant) shows poor growth or produce very few leaves which result in leggy stems with a wide gap between leaves. In that case, shorten the stems by cutting and add any of the organic fertilizer to enhance the growth of leaves.

                    10. Why is my aloe vera plant turning brown?
                      It causes mainly due to
                    • Over/under watering: Water the aloe vera plant when the 3/4th part of the pot becomes dry.
                    • Exposure to harsh sunlight: Browning of leaves is also a defense mechanism of the aloe vera plant to protect itself from the strong ultraviolet radiation. Shift the plant to partial shade or indoors so that it turns back to green again
                    • Excess salt concentration in the soil: In this case, repot the aloe vera into well-drained soil. Or you can also go for any of the succulent potting mixes that suit best for its growth.




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