19 Plants That NASA Says Will Keep a Home's Air Cleaner

19 Plants That NASA Says Will Keep a Home's Air Cleaner
Image: FeelPic/iStock

snake plant
FeelPic/iStock

We love houseplants for so many reasons. They're an inexpensive, pretty way to add vibrancy and life to any space. They are cheerful and brighten up smaller homes and they can make a room feel more "finished" than it had before. Plants can also be useful for cooking and medicine (we love keeping an aloe plant in the kitchen). 

For people with green thumbs, they're a fun project, and for those of us with black thumbs, there are still plenty of low-fuss, low-light plants that can work for our homes (including many on this list). For those looking for more of a challenge, some plants can easily move between the indoors and the outdoors, while others will turn a summer patio into a lush oasis.

For those looking for indoor houseplants to keep the air fresh indoors, we've got a list of plants that aren't just beautiful to look at, but that might also make our homes healthier. As we know from our middle school biology classes, plants produce oxygen, so even plants not on this list will help add some freshness and life to the home. 

What makes the plants on the list especially interesting is that NASA did a study on them in particular. Basically, NASA researchers were interested in how to best cleanse the air in space stations (which makes sense) and its Clean Air Study revealed which plants are the most effective at removing chemicals from the air like formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and ammonia. While we've provided links to purchase them below, most of these plants are usually available for less at any greenhouse or nursery.

Psst: If purchasing an item on this list, CafeMom may receive a small cut. Each item and price is up to date at the time of publication; however, an item may be sold out or the price may be different at a later date.

  • Pygmy Date Palm

    1
    Pygmy Date Palm
    Fast Growing Trees

    This pretty, fan-shaped date palm is an excellent addition to any household because of its ability to remove toxins like formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air. Plus, it's nontoxic for pets.

    Pygmy Date Palm ($40, Fast Growing Trees)

  • English Ivy

    2
    English Ivy
    Theplantchica/Etsy

    Who doesn't love the classic look of English ivy? It's gorgeous in a hanging pot and is also capable of cleaning the air extremely thoroughly of at least four different toxins. However, it's dangerous for dogs and cats, so make sure it's out of their reach.

    English Ivy ($20, Theplantchica/Etsy)

  • Pothos

    3
    Pothos
    The Sill

    We love this beautiful, flat green-leaved plant in a ceramic pot. Pothos is great for the air inside, and helps clean it of benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and tourine -- but it is toxic to pets, so keep it up high. 

    Pothos Plant in August Planter ($41, The Sill)

  • Peace Lily

    4
    Peace lily
    PrettyinGreenPlants/Etsy

    This plant signifies balance, calm, and rebirth -- perfect for a friend who is going through a hard time (or for ourselves when we've just moved). They're also the plants capable of removing pretty much all of the toxins plants are capable of removing from our air, according to NASA. Beautiful and helpful! However, it's toxic to animals, so it's not the best choice for those with pets.

    Peace Lily ($12, PrettyinGreenPlants/Etsy)

  • Parlor Palm

    5
    Parlor Palm
    The Sill

    So easy-care, and so good for the air! The parlor palm, also known as the bamboo palm, is one of the best for clearing the air of a wide range of toxins in the home, and is also safe for dogs and cats. 

    Parlor Palm ($8, The Sill)

  • Snake Plant

    6
    Snake Plant (Laurentii)
    The Sill

    Variegated snake plant, known by the cheeky name "mother-in-law's tongue" due to its sharp appearance, is also a great air purifying plant that's basically impossible to kill. Seriously, water this guy like once a month and it's happy.  

    Snake Plant Laurentii ($11, The Sill)

  • Dracaena Marginata

    7
    Dracaena Marginata
    Plantshed

    Dracaenas remove more chemicals from the air than most plants, as they reduce the threat of literally everything on the list except for ammonia. But they're toxic to pets, so be cautious. They do well in low light and only need to be watered a few times a month.

    Dracaena Marginata ($27, Plantshed)

  • Chrysanthemum Morifolium

    8
    Chrysanthemum morifolium
    Onehappyseed/Etsy

    These are powerful air cleaners -- in fact, regular old mums might be the most powerful! They reduce all of the airborne toxins NASA studied, however, they are also toxic to pets, so keep them out of reach. They do well when they can get good air circulation and the air isn't too humid.

    Chrysanthemum Morifolium Seeds ($5, Onehappyseed/Etsy)

  • Dendrobium Orchids

    9
    Dendrobium orchids
    Orchid Insanity/Etsy

    While this kind of orchid only removes xylene and toluene, it's also a gorgeous houseplant that adds elegance and light to any space it graces, and it's also nontoxic to dogs and cats -- great for those who have pets that tend to get into the plants.

    Dendrobium Orchids ($9, Orchid Insanity/Etsy)

  • Aloe Vera

    10
    Aloe Vera In Ezra Planter
    The Sill

    Aloe vera is amazing at reducing both benzene and formaldehyde in the air, and it's also handy to have around the kitchen in case of burns. We also like to stuff a leaf in the freezer to rub under our eyes for puffiness.

    Aloe Vera In Ezra Planter ($23, The Sill)

  • Dracaena Deremensis

    11
    Dracaena Deremensis
    House Plant Shop

    This particular kind of dracaena (there are so many kinds of dracaena) effectively remove benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air. They are easy to care for, although they prefer warmth to cold, and medium to bright light. They are toxic to pets.

    Dracaena Deremensis ($8, House Plant Shop)

  • Boston Fern

    12

    Boston ferns are a classic plant for either hanging or keeping on an end table in the living room -- and with good reason! They remove formaldehyde from the air, are nontoxic for pets, and look absolutely gorgeous. 

    Boston Fern ($38, PrettyinGreenPlants/Etsy)

  • Areca Palm

    13
    Areca Palm
    Fast Growing Trees

    Areca palms do well indoors and don't need tons of light. They filter formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air, and are nontoxic to dogs and cats. They are sometimes called bamboo palms.

    Areca Palm ($50, Fast Growing Trees)

  • Kimberley Queen Fern 

    14
    Kimberley queen fern
    Bloomscape

    These ferns are so graceful with their arching fronds, and they don't need too much care -- in addition to removing formaldehyde from the air and being animal-safe. They are a more compact variation of the Boston fern, and perfect for apartment living. 

    Kimberley Queen Fern ($65, Bloomscape)

  • Spider Plant

    15
    Spider Plant
    Bloomscape

    Spider plants are difficult to kill, and work well as a hanging plant. They grow fast and are fun for people who typically think of themselves as "bad with plants" or "black-thumbed." They remove formaldehyde from the air and are nontoxic to pets.

    Spider Plant ($35, Bloomscape)

  • Flamingo Lily

    16
    Flamingo Lily
    PrettyinGreenPlants/Etsy

    Flamingo lilies are so gorgeous, they're sure to liven up any room they're placed in. They're also one of the few plants on NASA's list that can take care of ammonia in the air, in addition to formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. Flamingo lilies are toxic to pets. 

    Flamingo Lily ($20, PrettyinGreenPlants/Etsy)

  • Philodendron Cordatum

    17
    Philodendron Cordatum
    Etsy/MyLittleUrbanJungle

    Philodendron cordatum, also known as the heart-leaf philodendron, is an amazing hanging plant that can grow long, trailing tendrils down a bookcase or by the window. It also removes formaldehyde from the air. The plant is toxic to pets, so make sure it's out of their reach.

    Philodendron Cordatum ($12, Etsy)

  • Weeping Fig Tree

    18
    Benjamina Ficus Tree
    Fast Growing Trees

    Super popular for indoor decor because it's easy to grow indoors (and looks adorable). Weeping fig, also known as Ficus benjamina, is easily sculpted into whatever shape its owner desires. It helps remove formaldehyde from the air but is also toxic to animals.

    Ficus Benjamina Tree ($100, Fast Growing Trees)

  • Rubber Plant

    19
    Rubber Plant
    The Sill
    With glossy, dark-red leaves, rubber trees are unusual and beautiful (and fun fact: really used to be used in rubber production). They only need to be watered weekly, and remove formaldehyde from their air. They are toxic to pets.

    Rubber Plant ($16, The Sill)

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