How to Remove Harmful Chemicals From Your Home Using Houseplants

It is no secret that houseplants can beautify a home and provide an easy and enjoyable hobby. However, houseplants also provide an enormous benefit to your indoor air quality - many species can filter harmful chemicals out of the air. Compounds like ammonia, formaldehyde, and benzene can be generated from construction materials, fabrics, furnishings, paints, solvents, household cleaners, and even air fresheners. Learning how to remove harmful chemicals from your home using houseplants is largely a matter of knowing which plants to grow and how many you need.


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    Determine how many houseplants you need for cleaner air. Most of the research done on the air filtering effects of houseplants has been conducted as part of NASA's Clean Air Study program. NASA's recommendation is growing 1 houseplant for every 100 square feet (9 square meters) of your home's floor area. Ideally, these plants should be spread around your home as much as possible.
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    Reduce the emission of harmful compounds as much as possible. Before trying to combat harmful chemicals using houseplants, it helps to minimize the emission of these compounds. Tobacco smoke, synthetic fibers, and products like paints, varnishes, and solvents are all major contributors to harmful compounds like benzene and formaldehyde.
    • Smoking tobacco outdoors rather than inside your home can have a dramatic effect on decreasing the concentration of harmful chemicals inside your home.
    • Keep all paints, stains, varnishes, and solvents in a garage or covered outdoor enclosure if possible.
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    Improve your home's ventilation if possible. Another major step you can take in controlling the concentration of harmful chemicals is by ventilating your home as well as possible. Open windows during comfortable weather and consider running ceiling fans at low speeds to keep air circulating.
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    Choose plants that are effective at filtering air. Of course, only some houseplant species effectively remove the harmful compounds produced in your home. Some species effectively remove only 1 type of compound, while a few types of plants can filter nearly all harmful compounds from your indoor air.
    • Benzene is a compound produced from paints, solvents, detergents, and some plastics. Good plants for filtering benzene include English ivy, Chinese evergreen, and snake plants.
    • Formaldehyde is a harmful chemical emitted from many building materials, including foam insulation and engineered wood products like plywood. Good houseplants for filtering formaldehyde include azalea, philodendron, pothos, and chrysanthemum.
    • Trichloroethylene is another harmful compound emitted from paints, varnishes, and solvents. It can be filtered effectively by Gerbera daisy, chrysanthemum, and Dracaena marginata.
    • Some plants filter the whole range of harmful chemicals, including ammonia and xylene as well as the above-mentioned compounds. These species include peace lily, florist's chrysanthemum, and snake plants.


  • All houseplant species have a beneficial effect on indoor air quality by converting carbon dioxide to oxygen and by removing trace organic compounds from the air. Even if improving air quality is your main priority, you don't have to be too picky about plant species.
  • Under controlled conditions, some of the houseplants mentioned above can remove up to 87 percent of harmful chemicals from indoor air within 24 hours.


  • The pollutants mentioned above, including benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, can cause respiratory and nervous system damage. Some have also been demonstrated to be carcinogenic.

Things You'll Need

  • Houseplants

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Categories: Home and Garden