Many people spend most of their time indoors, so having good air quality is important. Regular maintenance of your HVAC system will prevent poor indoor air quality. However, believe it or not, plants can help improve your home’s air in ways that an HVAC system may not be able to. There are several plants with unique benefits that are worth having in your home to boost your home’s healthy air quality.
How Plants Improve Indoor Air Quality
Besides having a positive emotional impact on your environment and reducing cortisol levels, plants do a lot to make the air in a home better.
For one thing, photosynthesis is the opposite of our breathing. When plants breathe, they “inhale” carbon dioxide from the air and “exhale” it as oxygen.
Plants reduce contaminants that homeowners usually resort to airing out, such as VOCs (volatile organic compounds). The process in plants is called phytoremediation. VOCs are present in chemical cleaners, household detergents, cosmetic products, paint, glue and plastic. You can also find VOCs in furniture, flooring, printers and dry-cleaned clothes.
They can trigger allergies or asthma in people, especially after a long-term buildup, and they can decrease productivity by causing headaches, brain fog, dizziness and eye and skin irritations. The home’s air can have three to five times more pollutants than outside air. However, simply having several plants that take full sun reduces VOCs and other air contaminants that cannot be removed from a high-grade air filter.
Plants can also neutralize toxins, rendering them neutral and harmless. Plants store pollutants to separate them from the surrounding environment as well.
Finally, having several plants increases humidity.
20 Plants that Best Improve Air Quality
With so many different indoor plants to choose from, it’s difficult to know which type of plant provides the most air-boosting benefit. The good news is that all plants increase oxygenation, while those that rate highly in VOC absorption are fortunately common and easy to grow indoors.
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera removes formaldehyde and benzene. Aloe vera is easy to grow.
- Peace Lily: The Peace Lily removes formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, alcohol and acetone. It absorbs mold spores and reduces mildew while it gives off moisture. Peace lilies are great plants for the bathroom.
- Weeping fig: Weeping figs remove formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, mold, dust and other allergens. They are easy to grow and also absorb formaldehyde and carbon monoxide.
- Spider plant: Spider plants reduce formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and carbon monoxide.
- Dracaena: The Dracaena removes formaldehyde, xylene, trichloroethylene and 94% of acetone from the air.
- Rubber plant: Rubber plants removes formaldehyde and tolerates dim light and cool temperatures.
- Snake plant: Snake plants remove formaldehyde from the air. These plants are good in a bathroom.
- Pothos: The Pothos removes formaldehyde from the air.
- Gerbera daisy: Gerbera daisies reduce benzene and trichloroethylene.
- English ivy: English ivy reduces airborne fecal particles, absorbs formaldehyde and benzene and grows best in medium to low sunlight. English ivy grows well if placed on a desk.
- Boston fern: The Boston fern likes direct sunlight and regular water misting. It is easy to grow, restores moisture and reduces formaldehyde.
- Heart leaf philodendron: The Heart leaf philodendron removes formaldehyde and other toxins from the air. This plant is toxic if it’s ingested, so it should be kept off the ground away from children and pets.
- Eucalyptus: The Eucalyptus plant has tannins in its leaves, so inhaling its scent lowers congestion problems and fights colds.
- African violet: African violets are relaxing, small and easy to care for in indirect or artificial light.
- Chinese evergreen: The Chinese evergreen removes several air pollutants and toxins from the air.
- Chrysanthemum: Chrysanthemums remove benzene and thrive in direct sunlight in hanging baskets.
- Bromeliad: The Bromeliad removes most VOCs.
- Caribbean tree cactus: The Caribbean tree cactus absorbs 80% of ethylbenzene.
- The Areca Palm: The Areca palm is also known as the Butterfly palm. It removes xylene and toluene from the air. This is a low-maintenance plant that needs little water when placed in sunlight with humidity.
- Bamboo palm: The Bamboo palm removes formaldehyde and adds moisture to the air.
Tips for Purchasing Plants
For best results, consider a variety of plants. Some plants are toxic to animals and humans and should be placed away from pets and children.
Many people enjoy tropical plants. Tropical plants, however, do not thrive in the low or dry temperatures of air conditioning. Mist their leaves every day, and keep smaller plants under glass domes to trap humidity.
Remember that plants cannot replace your HVAC system and should not be relied on for filtering air.
Professional Indoor Air Quality Testing
Sometimes, there are pollutants or other factors in the home that means you aren’t getting the healthy indoor air you deserve. If you have made structural changes to your home or if you are noticing a decrease in your home’s air quality, contact our team at S.O.S. Heating & Cooling for more information about our indoor air quality testing. We also provide comprehensive heating and cooling services.