In many ways, living in the city is great. You can get a pizza anytime, day or night, or run errands without spending a penny on gas. The downside? The air. And believe it or not, indoor air is usually even more polluted than outdoor air.
Luckily, there’s a way to purify your air, and it’s easier than you think. Just buy some good, old-fashioned houseplants. That’s right. Numerous studies have proven that plants filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—those nasty carbon-based chemicals from everyday products that easily evaporate at room temperature.
Just about any plant will clean the air to some extent, but some are better than others. We’ve chosen our list of plants based on three criteria—ease of care, availability and how effective they are at purifying the air.
Rubber Tree: An Air-Cleaning Classic
There’s a reason why rubber plants have been a long-time favorite for plant enthusiasts. They’re one of the easiest plants to grow and are perfect for apartment-dwellers because they’re low-maintenance and thrive in dim, cool environments. They also just happen to be powerful toxin absorbers and air purifiers. Bonus!
Aloe Vera: The Two for One
Aloe, also known as aloe vera, has a lot of things going for it. It’s easy to care for as long as you have a sunny window, and it clears the air of formaldehyde and benzene—byproducts of common chemical-based cleaners, paints and household items—that can increase the risk of cancer. Plus, the gel inside the leaves can be used as a soothing ointment. Keep it in the kitchen and break off a leaf whenever you get a cut or a burn.
Spider Plant: The Working Warrior
The spider plant is resilient and hardy. It fiercely battles benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene (a solvent used in the leather, rubber and printing), and requires minimal care in return—even the most negligent of plant owners will have a hard time killing it. And if you have pets, it’s an ideal choice because it’s perfectly safe for your curious four-legged family members.
Garden Mum: Pretty Great
Add a pop color to a room, while at the same time clearing the air of ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde and xylene. This pretty garden-variety mum produces hearty blooms that come in a variety of shapes and colors, and was a winner in NASA research for its air-purifying properties.
English Ivy: A Winner from Across the Pond
Ranked the number-one best air-filtering houseplant by NASA scientists for its efficiency in removing formaldehyde from the air, the English Ivy is elegant and incredibly easy to grow. It requires a medium amount of sunlight and moderate temperatures. But beware—this plant is poisonous if eaten and should be kept out of reach of pets and children.
Snake Plant: Working the Night Shift
While most plants absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide during the day, this specimen works at night to purify the air. It’s one of the best at filtering out formaldehyde and requires only dim light and the occasional watering.