7 Houseplants That Purify The Air (And Are Nearly Impossible To Kill)

Written by Erin Marino
Erin Marino is the PR and Marketing Manager at The Sill. Prior to working with houseplants, she received her Bachelor's in Religion at Columbia University, with a particular focus on Tibetan Buddhism. Today, Erin lives in New York City and is passionate about indoor plants and animal rights.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend an estimated 90 percent of their time indoors. Shocking, right?

Even more surprising is the fact that the air inside office buildings, schools, and apartment complexes can contain 10 times more pollution than outdoor air. This is a consequence of toxic emissions from building materials, airborne mold, viruses, and various pollutants.

Bringing plants indoors is a sustainable way to improve indoor air quality quickly. Not only are plants aesthetically pleasing, but NASA has found certain ones to be surprisingly useful in absorbing harmful gasses and cleaning indoor air.

As another added bonus, all seven of these detoxifying plants can tolerate moderate to low light levels, because let’s be real: Not everyone has a corner office with huge east-­facing windows.

1. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)

Photo: Stocksy

  • Removes formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air
  • Thrives in moderate, indirect sunlight; high humidity
  • Great for hanging basket or planter on a pedestal or atop a shelf
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2. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Photo: The Sill

  • Removes formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air
  • Thrives in moderate, indirect sunlight; cooler temperatures
  • A great houseplant for propagating!

3. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

Photo: The Sill

  • Removes benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air
  • Thrives in moderate to low indirect sunlight.
  • Nicknamed "the cubicle plant" for its ability to grow in less-than-ideal environments.
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4. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa')

Photo: Shutterstock

  • Removes benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and ammonia from the air
  • Thrives in moderate to low indirect sunlight
  • Identifiable by its signature dark green leaves and white "flowers," which are actually leaf bracts

5. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)

  • Removes benzene and formaldehyde from the air
  • Thrives in low indirect light
  • Available in an array of visually appealing varieties
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6. Snake Plant (Sansevieria rifasciata)

Photo: The Sill

  • Removes benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene from the air
  • Thrives in moderate to low indirect light.
  • Not only is the Sansevieria unbelievably hardy, but it converts carbon dioxide into oxygen at night. (Most other common houseplants only do this during the day.)

7. Philodendron (Philodendron)

Photo: The Sill

  • Removes formaldehyde from the air
  • Thrives in moderate to low indirect light.
  • A quick­-growing trailing plant, Philodendron is known for its heart­-shaped leaves.

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